Sunday, 23/2/2020 | 2:17 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

General Assembly on Counter-terrorism

Note:  A complete summary of today’s General Assembly plenary will be available after its conclusion.


JOËLLE JENNY, Director for Security Policy and Conflict Prevention of the European External Action Service of the European Union, said terrorism had become more diffuse and pervasive.  Old threats remained, but with the development of new threats and vulnerabilities, there was a need to adapt and consider the implications drawn from recent terrorist attacks.  Welcoming the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, she said radicalization turning into violent extremism could best be contained at a level closest to vulnerable individuals and in the most affected communities, with the United Nations system playing a role in bringing different actors together.  The biennial review of the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was a valuable indicator for Member States to detect implementation gaps.  But, two years was a very short period to implement long-term counter-terrorism strategies and plans.  That approach should be reconsidered to ensure a contemporary response to the ever-changing nature of terrorism.

She acknowledged positive elements in the resolution, including its substantial references to the role of women and youth, the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, the financing of terrorism and radicalization in prisons.  It also stressed the importance of national criminal justice systems based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.  However, the resolution did not address some issues in a way the European Union would have expected, including the central role of the United Nations, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and assistance to victims of terrorism.  She also regretted that the document did not mention the role of the Financial Action Task Force.  More than ever, united efforts were need to create a strong front against all forms and manifestation of human rights and violent extremism, fundamentally based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.

NAME TO COME (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said the tenth anniversary of the Strategy was an opportunity to renew efforts to combat terrorism at national, regional and international levels.  The resolution captured concerns of emerging threats and underscored the need to address local and external drivers.  Those root causes must be dealt with, including ending foreign occupation, unilateral coercive measures and economic, political and social injustice.  Transparency and coordination of United Nations counter-terrorism entities must ensure that efforts were not duplicated.  He anticipated seeing complete proposals that focused on mobilizing resources for capacity-building projects.  There was also a need for enhancing international cooperation on the movement, recruitment and repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters and for countering propaganda in a focused and result-oriented manner.

Turning to other concerns, he said sustained engagement was required to ensure women and youth could become agents of change.  Condemning terrorism in all its forms, he rejected all attempts to associate any country, religion or nationality with that scourge.  Upholding international law, humanitarian law and fundamental freedoms must occur when combating terrorism.  Interfaith and intercultural dialogue must guide the quest to eliminate incitement, anti-Muslim movements and violence with regards to targeting a specific group of people.  Given the nature of the challenges, the Strategy was a living document and should help guide States’ efforts to combat terrorism.

STEFAN BARRIGA (Liechtenstein) said all four pillars of the Strategy must be implemented evenly by States and the United Nations, although, in practice, this was often not the case.  Measures to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law as the fundamental basis for the fight against terrorism were often just an afterthought.  At worst, counter-terrorism operations were undertaken without due regard for the rights of innocent civilians.  Overly broad domestic definitions of terrorism threatened the right to freedom of expression and association.  Governments must scrupulously abide by the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality in their actions, which underpinned both human rights law and international humanitarian law.  If the international community wanted to do more than just fight the symptoms of terrorism, then there must be true commitment by all Member States to fully cooperate in all relevant United Nations organs.  In particular, it would require greater cooperation within the Security Council, which had been unable to effectively address a number of violent conflicts, partially due to the threat or use of the veto.

CARLOS SERGIO SOBRAL DUARTE (Brazil) stressed the importance of efforts to keep the Strategy relevant and contemporary.  Counter-terrorism would benefit from the conclusion of the comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism, as it would complement existing instruments, provide a comprehensive legal framework and direct efforts in a more coherent way.  Prevention was always the best policy when addressing terrorism.  Promoting inclusion should be at the heart of steps aimed at countering terrorist narratives.  Strategies that focused on the use of force and unilateral interpretations of Security Council mandates had demonstrated their limitations in tragic ways.  Brazil’s commitment to fighting terrorism, including its financing, had been translated into domestic legislation.  In its preparations for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, his country had redoubled its efforts to prevent and counter terrorism, including through the creation of platforms for sharing intelligence.

CATHERINE CALOTHY, Under-Secretary for the Struggle against Terrorism and Organized Crime of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, said the United Nations must help States counter terrorism in an efficient and coordinated way, with each body of the Organization doing its duty without duplication, in line with their respective competencies.  “There can be no effectiveness without coordination,” she said.  Welcoming the resolution’s call for Member States to adopt the Secretary-General’s recommendations for preventing radicalization, she hoped for a swift military defeat of Da’esh in Syria and Iraq, but emphasized that the phenomenon of radicalization would continue.  Prevention was an issue that no State could ignore.  She asked if instruments of cooperation were being used to the fullest, saying that Interpol’s database could not help stop foreign terrorist fighters if it was not kept complete and consulted.  She went on to call for concerted action by the international community and concerned private enterprises to address trafficking in cultural assets, saying terrorist groups were destroying cultural heritage while financing their activities by pillaging archaeological sites and museums.

NAME TO COME (India) said the heinous attacks in Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Kenya over the last few days demonstrated the need to consolidate efforts to counter the scourge of terrorism.  The international community must combat terrorist networks, which were spreading over borders.  Broadly agreeing with the text, he regretted that the exponential rise in attacks had not been reflected and a counter-terrorism convention must be adopted.  It would also be useful to have a senior official and entity to bring more focus to counter-terrorism efforts, which would demonstrate a united approach to eliminating that threat. 

NAME TO COME (Russian Federation) said the formation of a single, comprehensive approach was necessary to root out terrorism.  The Strategy was also a basic foundation and had helped to prevent and thwart attacks.  Not all elements of the Strategy, however, had been implemented.  Politically driven practices in dividing terrorists into the “bad guys” and the “not-so-bad guys” had seen the destabilization of the Middle East and North Africa.  Only by rallying together in a broad coalition could results occur on the ground.  In the resolution, steps had been taken towards shaping an instrument that would further guide actions.  Compromises had been made during negotiations.  Other actions to prevent violent extremism could include scaled up involvement of civil society, religious groups, media and non-governmental organizations. 

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) expressed hope that the resolution would be implemented in practice so that his Government could attain the Syrian people’s goals.  The text included several important additions, including some compromises to reach consensus on its adoption.  Despite the problems in Syria due to violence, the Government hoped to consolidate efforts to fight terrorism and to provide for security and peace.  Terrorism was a threat to all.  It was critical to support the Strategy’s efforts and implement relevant Security Council resolutions.  Events in Syria and terrorist acts committed there for years had involved dozens of States.  That phenomenon had demonstrated that terrorists had been able to operate, including financing, with help from States, he said, pointing out that the Eastern Turkistan movement and other such groups had been supported by national secret service agencies.

He regretted to say that certain Security Council members had suspended action on a Syrian request to include on its list of terrorist organizations a group that had pledged allegiance to Al-Qaida.  The Secretary-General’s report had shown that terrorist groups were indeed operating in many States and such extremist and terrorist ideologies must be stamped out as should groups that received financial and weapons support from States.  Israel’s occupation of Arab territories was State-sponsored terrorism.  The United Nations must act to rectify that.  The only way to counter terrorism was to create an international alliance within international law.  Any attempt on the part of States to interfere in Syria without approval from the Government had contravened international law, he continued, adding that air strikes that had been conducted under the international alliance had damaged infrastructure across Syria.  The needs of the victims of terrorism must be addressed, from Libya to Palestine.

Statement by Switzerland to come.

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said the Strategy remained valid and relevant.  No country was immune from the plague of terrorism and partnership was needed to counter it.  For that reason, the United States had joined consensus around the resolution that would be adopted today, despite several aspects which proved challenging to accept.  The key question was how to work together to counter terrorism.  While the Security Council had come together to address terrorism-related issues, it was the Strategy that provided the general framework for addressing terrorism in all its manifestations.  International cooperation and any measures taken to address terrorism must comply with international law.  In practical terms, that meant recognizing that countering terrorist ideologies should be used as a reason to suppress political dissent.  In the struggle against terrorism, “truth is unquestionable on our side,” not media restrictions, Internet filters or attacks on political opponents.

The Secretary-General’s plan of action for the prevention of violent extremism contained a valuable set of recommendations supported by the United States, including its first recommendation that legislation and policies be grounded in respect for human rights and the rule of law.  The plan of action was a living document and a catalyst for more research into drivers of violent extremism.  She welcomed the resolution’s request for the Secretary-General to present to the General Assembly, by May 2017, suggestions on improving United Nations implementation of the counter-terrorism Strategy.  She called for the appointment of a high-ranking official who would help implement the Strategy and lead an “all-of-United Nations” approach.  In the absence of such a position, the international community’s efforts would be less than the sum of its parts and Member States would face uncoordinated development of their priorities.  Nothing in today’s text changed the obligation of States to prevent their nationals or those on their territory from providing assets to terrorists.  The terrorism threat landscape remained dynamic and the United States was committed to working closely with the global coalition to counter Da’esh.

GEORGE CHULUKHADZE (Georgia) said his country was an active member of a global anti-terrorist coalition and it participated in multinational operations.  While Georgia enjoyed low statistics of terrorist-related crimes, the Russian-occupied territories continued to represent a major challenge for the Government in its efforts to combat terrorism.  In fact, those areas served as safe harbours for terrorists and other radical and extremist groups, as well as organized criminals that threatened security in the entire region.  Drawing attention to recent terrorist attacks, he stressed that Member States must identify and monitor terrorism drivers in their societies.  In that regard, it was essential to take a “whole-of-society” approach via community engagement and empowerment of local communities.  Modern technological progress was effectively used for spreading terrorist ideology and waging psychological warfare.  As investigatory practice indicated, recruiters and foreign terrorist fighters were using modern encrypted networks.  Given that, global efforts must focus on monitoring and early detection of terrorist activities in networks, with proper assistance from other countries.  Among other things, he noted that public-private partnerships were a key tool for countering radicalization, including by removing terrorism-related online content.

NAME TO COME (Colombia), condemning the recent attacks in Istanbul, said such acts showed that those resorting to terrorism knew no boundaries.  Rejecting terrorism in all its forms, he said the scourge must not be associated with any religion, ethnicity or nationality.  Emerging terrorist threats posed grave problems, including the spread of violent extremism, used by groups such as Al-Qaida, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Boko Haram.  The Plan of Action must be used to advance gains in fighting that sinister phenomenon.  Global counter-terrorism efforts must produce desired results and victims must be heard and recognized.  International cooperation must branch across areas such as national capacity strengthening and information-sharing.  As such, Colombia pledged to work together to put the Strategy into action.

DAVID ROET (Israel), extending condolences to the people of Turkey after the recent attacks, said there had been diverse views of the Strategy.  Some States had wished to insert language that ran counter to accepted principles.  Pointing out one example, he said that, according to the OIC, killing in the name of national liberation did not constitute terrorism.  Yet, in recent days terrorists had murdered Israelis.  The United Nations must decide if it wanted to be a relevant actor in facing challenges terrorism posed.  It was unacceptable for there to be one definition of terrorism for the international community and another for Israel.  As a unified group, it was imperative that all members acted decisively to combat terrorism.  Staying silent over the politics of resolutions would embolden the world’s enemies.  Israel was facing terrorism on multiple fronts, he said, emphasizing that the world must come together to form an even stronger counter-terrorism network.

NAME TO COME (Germany), condemning the Istanbul attacks, said strong, united action was needed to combat terrorism, including implementing Security Council resolutions and international standards.  For its part, Germany had criminalized terrorist activities, including travel, visits to training camps and financing.  While legal measures were signs of progress, more was needed, including identifying the root causes and drivers.  Prevention efforts must also be strengthened.  Deploring that the membership could not agree on investing more towards those and related actions, he said, now, an all-Member State approach was needed.  Germany had advocated for a complete overhaul of the United Nations counter-terrorism system that would improve the fight against that scourge.  That fight was a collective effort that would last for years, if not decades.

NAME TO COME (China) said terrorist organizations were better organized than ever before, employing more brutal tactics and engaging more frequently across borders and the Internet.  Extremist forces were inciting hatred, discrimination and violence that were causing devastating damage.  The Strategy’s review process was an opportunity to take stock.  China appreciated progress in some of the Strategy’s elements, including efforts to improve legislation.  The international community should, among other things, uphold a unified approach that recognized the United Nations involvement.  Redoubled efforts must address terrorist recruitment of young people and the distortion of religious doctrines.  Cross-border terrorist movements must be halted as should financing flows.  The international community must also take steps to crack down on financing, petroleum trafficking and using the Internet as a recruitment platform.  For its part, China had established laws to aid national anti-terrorism efforts.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said the resolution was an opportunity to raise global ambition and do more together to prevent and halt terrorism.  “Collectively, we could have done more,” he said.  The United Nations must improve its performance in that area.  Defeating terrorism and combating violent extremism started at home.  For its part, the United Kingdom had implemented new legislation in line with its international obligations.  That included updating measures to stop people travelling to join Da’esh and equipping law enforcement and local government with the powers to tackle extremism.  The United Nations must fulfil the vision and ambition proposed in the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.  If implemented, it could help protect vulnerable people from radicalization.  Among other things, it was essential that the international community push for a more coordinated, effective and strategic approach to countering terrorism by the United Nations.  While respecting and valuing the work of its staff around the world, he noted that their efforts could be further enhanced through better coordination so that entities avoided duplication and maximized their impact.