General Assembly Adopts Resolution Affirming Importance of Balanced, Integrated Implementation of Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy
The General Assembly continued its fifth review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopting a resolution on ways in which to redouble efforts to work swiftly, collectively and effectively in rooting out the scourge.
By the terms of the resolution, titled “The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review” (document A/70/L.55), the Assembly affirmed the importance of integrated and balanced implementation of all four pillars of the Strategy: addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; preventing and combating terrorism; building the capacity of States and strengthening the role of the United Nations; and ensuring respect for human rights and compliance with the rule of law.
Also by the 72-paragraph text, the Assembly urged all Member States, as well as the United Nations, to unite against violent extremism, as and when it was conducive to terrorism. It called upon Member States to strengthen international, regional, subregional and bilateral cooperation in countering the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, to engage with domestic financial institutions and share information on terrorist financing risks, and to adopt legal measures for the prohibition of incitement to commit terrorist acts.
Further by the text, the Assembly called for enhanced engagement by Member States with the work of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, and for greater coordination and coherence among United Nations entities and with donors and recipients of efforts to build counter-terrorism capacity. The Assembly stressed the significance of a sustained and comprehensive approach to addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.
More than 40 speakers discussed ways in which Member States could effectively use the tools at hand, including the Global Strategy and the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. Speakers pointed out that no country was immune to terrorism, nor could any fight it alone.
Joining many delegations in condemning recent terrorist acts, India’s representative said the heinous attacks in Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Kenya over the last few days demonstrated the need to consolidate efforts. Representatives of France, Iraq, United Kingdom and the United States called strongly for a collective approach to countering the phenomenon.
Speakers highlighted the resolutions positive elements, with the representative of the European Union delegation noting its substantial references to the role of women and youth, the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, terrorism financing and radicalization in prisons. However, it did not address some issues — including the central role of the United Nations, respect for human rights and compliance with the rule of law, and assistance to victims of terrorism — in a manner that the European Union would have expected, she said, while also voicing regret that the text did not mention the role of the Financial Action Task Force. Joint efforts were needed to create a strong front against all forms and manifestations of violent extremism, she said, reiterating that such efforts must be based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Indeed, while many speakers agreed that the Strategy had had helped to prevent and thwart attacks, the resolution fell short in some areas. Brazil’s representative pointed out that the absence of an agreed definition of terrorism was a stumbling block to consolidating counter-terrorism efforts.
That aspect arose throughout the debate, with speakers elaborating on the meaning of terrorism and calling for a unified definition. Israel’s representative said it was unacceptable to have one definition for the international community and another for his country.
Other concerns were raised, with the Russian Federation’s representative noting that not all elements of the Global Strategy had been implemented. Politically driven practices aimed at dividing terrorists into the “bad guys” and the “not-so-bad guys” had led to destabilization of the Middle East and North Africa, he pointed out, emphasizing that only by rallying together in a broad coalition could Member States effect positive results on the ground.
Saudi Arabia’s representative, speaking for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue must guide efforts to eliminate incitement, anti-Muslim movements and violence targeting specific groups. Transparency and coordination on the part of United Nations counter-terrorism entities must ensure that their efforts were not duplicated. There was also need to enhance international cooperation on the movement, recruitment and repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters, and to counter terrorist propaganda in a focused and result-oriented manner.
Syria’s representative said that, despite his country’s current problems caused by violence on the ground and the operations of terrorist groups, the Government hoped to consolidate its counter-terrorism efforts. Warning that terrorism posed a threat to all States, he emphasized the critical importance of supporting the Strategy’s efforts and implementing the relevant Security Council resolutions.
In other business, the Assembly took note of Germany’s appointment — upon recommendation by the Chair of the Western European and Others Group — to the Committee on Conferences for a term beginning immediately and ending on 31 December 2018.
General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) urged the Latin American and Caribbean States to submit candidates for their two seats as soon as possible. At its 23 December 2015 meeting, he said, the Assembly had taken took note of the appointment of Hungary and Iran to three-year terms on the 21-member Committee, beginning on 1 January 2016.
Also speaking during the counter-terrorism debate were representatives of Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Georgia, Colombia, Germany, China, Canada, Ukraine, Pakistan, Dominican Republic (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Iceland, Spain, Mexico, Cuba, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Peru, South Africa, Egypt, Chile, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, Libya, Norway, Venezuela, Turkey, Bangladesh, Serbia, Indonesia and Argentina.
A representative of Saudi Arabia spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 7 July, to conclude its review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
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.
ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (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.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (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.
VLADIMIR ANDREEV (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.
STEPHAN HUSY (Switzerland) said his county prioritized enhancing prevention by addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and to radicalization. Counter-terrorism measures must be undertaken without prejudice and in accordance with international humanitarian law. Stronger emphasis must also be placed on planning, coordinating, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the Strategy. During the seventy-first session of the General Assembly, it would be important to ensure that the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture and efforts to prevent violent extremism truly addressed the needs of Member States, he said.
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.
ANÍBAL FERNÁNDEZ DE SOTO CAMACHO (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.
HEIKO THOMS (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.
WU HAITAO (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.
DAVID DRAKE, Director-General, International Security and Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada, asked why terrorism had grown in spite of international efforts over the past 10 years. There was no simple answer, but part of the problem was due to the orientation of international efforts, with unequal implementation of the Global Strategy’s four pillars. The spread of violent extremism would not be halted without eliminating the conditions that had led to its rise, he warned. It was Canada’s experience that addressing violent extremism meant working from the bottom up. Today was Canada’s national day, when it celebrated diversity as a source of strength, he said, adding that his country stood ready to help implement the Secretary-General’s recommendations for preventing violent extremism, but was disappointed by the lack of agreement on such areas as the role of women and youth and the way forward on reforming the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture. The United Nations must remain the key forum for unifying the international community in addressing such a critical issue.
ANDRIY TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine) said the document to be adopted today could hardly be called ambitious because it did not properly reflect major tendencies and advances in countering terrorism and violent extremism. Ukraine deemed military invasion and prolonged international conflicts to be among the major drivers of violent extremism and terrorism. “It is undeniable that the terrorist component in the Russia Federation’s undeclared war against Ukraine is clearly visible and emerged as an important phenomenon in the everyday life of the occupied areas in the east of Ukraine,” he said, citing among examples the downing of a Malaysian airliner and the shelling of civilians in Ukrainian cities. Ukraine expected the Russian Federation to heed the resolution’s call to refrain from organizing, instigating, facilitating, participating in, financing, encouraging or tolerating terrorist activities, and to stop using its own territory for training terrorists and organizing terrorist acts, he said.
MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq), aligning himself with the OIC, said more than 100,000 victims of terrorism since 2003 had been targeted by Da’esh and other groups, which had also undermined national stability. International cooperation was essential. All Member States must honour their commitments to Security Council resolutions on, among other things, preventing financing, funding and logistics of armed terrorist groups. Iraq had made anti-terrorist efforts, including establishing a review of its aims and the creation of a legal framework. Training and rehabilitation programmes had been part of those efforts and the resolution had addressed those issues. Religion had nothing to do with terrorism, he said, emphasizing the need to root out the sources of extremist ideas and to work with States to create relevant, effective legislation. Working with religious communities must also shape solutions to tackling the spread of violent extremism. Iraq would make every effort to implement the Plan of Action, given that it had been most affected by violent extremism.
Mr. ROET (Israel), noting that his country had suffered three terrorist attacks in the last two days, said that while the international community was discussing national and political strategies, Israeli citizens were being brutally killed, day after day. While the enormous effort put into the negotiating process over the last few weeks was understood, each delegation had its own priorities, which made for an extremely watered-down text, he said, adding that many of the key issues had been left on the “cutting floor” for the sake of agreement. Israel had been clear from the beginning that the draft resolution must not single out any one specific situation. Nevertheless, he said, attempts to single Israel out were as clear and blunt as he had ever seen in the General Assembly Hall, which achieved nothing except narrow political purposes aimed at delegitimizing that country. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was being dealt with in many forums across the United Nations, yet a certain group of countries insisted on turning every negotiation, every event and every meeting into a mini-Security Council. It insisted on constantly hindering dialogue and wasting the valuable time of all Member States. Israel would not call for a recorded vote on the draft resolution, but would disassociate itself from portions of its preamble, he said.
The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution without a vote.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), speaking in explanation of position, noted that her country had made huge sacrifices in the fight against terrorism, saying that, despite differing views, the draft resolution reinforced the world’s collective commitment against the drivers of terrorism and extremism. The joint determination of Member States to address some of the most pervasive root causes of terrorism and violent extremism — including through the resolution of conflicts, ending foreign occupation, protecting the rule of law and ensuring respect for all religions, values and cultures — was clear. The draft resolution stressed that when counter-terrorism efforts violated international law and fundamental freedoms, they betrayed shared values and fuelled violent extremism, she said, pointing out that the use of drone strikes violated the fundamental rights of the victims and further fuelled violence and extremism. Pakistan had proposed several paragraphs to strengthen the text’s legal and humanitarian aspects regarding the use of drones, although it was unfortunate that Member States had been unable to make the desired progress on the draft.
MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, said that today’s message in the Assembly strongly indicated a collective commitment to enhancing cooperation in preventing and combating terrorism. “Today you have sent a message to the world that the pain, suffering and destruction being caused by terrorism is not just a major concern for all of us, but a matter that you are addressing as a matter of priority,” he added.
JUAN AVILA (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the terrible attacks in Turkey made it more important for Member States to commit themselves to implementation of the Global Strategy, adding that CELAC shared the Secretary-General’s concerns about the spread of violent extremism. Calling for greater attention to the use of social media by terrorist groups, he emphasized the important role of civil society as well as the need to ensure full respect for the freedom of expression and association while ensuring that terrorists and their sympathisers did not abuse non-profit organizations.
CELAC was committed to an intensive international effort to safeguard cyberspace and ensure its use for peaceful purposes, he added. Regarding Al-Qaida and Da’esh, he said the Community recognized the measures adopted by the relevant Sanctions Committee and supported the role of the Ombudsperson.
He went on to condemn the recruitment and use of children for terrorist acts, and stressed that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons could stoke terrorism. CELAC recognized the important work of regional and subregional organizations in implementing the Global Strategy and urged the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to continue its capacity-building efforts in the Latin America and Caribbean region. The Community deemed it necessary to elaborate a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, he said, urging the Assembly to address pending issues essential to reaching such an agreement.
EINAR GUNNARSSON (Iceland) said that, from the highly organized mass murder in Istanbul to the recent brutal murder of an Israeli child in her bed, the international community was faced with a vortex of hate, fuelled by violent extremism and equipped with an arsenal of modern weapons. The challenge was to root out the complex webs of tacit or active support, sympathy and encouragement, which were often hard to identify. The Secretary-General’s report painted a frightening picture of the sophistication of ISIL and other similar movements in manipulating young people through visual and social media, he noted. Since there was no simple approach to identifying potential terrorists, it was absolutely necessary that the United Nations demonstrate a “singleness of purpose” in that regard. The resolution was a step towards improving coordination within the Organization, he said, declaring: “We need to be honest about identifying internal and external drivers of violent extremism and terrorism.”
JAVIER FRANCISCO GARCÍA-LARRACHE (Spain) said the resolution’s inclusion of certain elements of Security Council resolution 1267 (1999) was a positive step, as were the paragraphs highlighting the important role of women in the fight against terrorism. Furthermore, UNODC had a key role to play in global counter-terrorism efforts. Every effort must be made to take advantage of all the resources of the United Nations and Member States in order to defeat terrorism. Noting that the international community had missed a good opportunity to strengthen the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture, he expressed regret that more had not been done to strengthen the role of victims in preventing and stopping violent extremism.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said there was urgent need to coordinate a more efficient and comprehensive approach to terrorism through dialogue. Over the years, the Strategy had become a reference point for preventing and combating the threat of international terrorism, he said, adding that Member States had benefited from it over the last decade. However, its four pillars had not been equitably implemented. Emphasizing the urgent need to deal with new elements of terrorism and extremism, he said Mexico placed a great deal of emphasis on the Strategy’s preventive approach.
RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) describing the Global Strategy as a milestone that reflected the General Assembly’s central role in countering terrorism, emphasized his country’s unswerving determination to fight terrorism and its root causes. However, the international community could not accept acts of aggression, interference in the internal affairs of States, or violations of human rights carried out in the name of confronting terrorism, he emphasized. Cuba rejected double standards and unilateral actions that contravened the United Nations Charter and the norms of international law. It recognized that a great deal remained to be done and that the international community must take concrete steps towards the adoption of a comprehensive convention on terrorism, he said.
PHILLIP TAULA (New Zealand) noted that hardly a week passed without an incident to remind the international community of terrorism’s significant cost. Since the last review, the Security Council, General Assembly and other relevant bodies had taken significant steps to supress the financing of terrorism, counter terrorist narratives and address the evolving threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters. Positive developments had also been made in the effective and transparent use of sanctions. Expressing strong support for the Secretary-General’s Action Plan, he said engagement with local communities was a key pillar. However, “we do not accept that terrorism and violent extremism can be overcome by Governments alone”. Going forward, the international community must continue to assess whether existing structures and processes were fit for purpose, he emphasized. “As the methods employed by terrorist groups continue to evolve, so must the methods of the United Nations.”
CAITLIN WILSON (Australia) said that, a decade after the adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, few people could say that their lives had gone untouched by the threat of terrorism. The Strategy’s tenth anniversary and the recent attacks must serve as a reminder of the task at hand, she said, noting that her country’s approach was based on criminal justice, the rule of law and protecting human rights. Calling attention to the gravity of the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, she stressed the need to enhance international cooperation and develop effective measures. “We know that the global terrorist threat cannot be defeated by security solutions alone,” she said, adding that the international community could not afford to wait until people had already radicalized and turned to violence. Intervening early and tackling its root causes while drawing on the strength of local communities and civil society were among the best defence mechanisms, she said.
HIROSHI MINAMI (Japan) noted that, since the beginning of 2016, the international community had witnessed terrorist attacks taking place all over the world, almost every week, which meant that the threat of terrorism remained very high. All Member States would need to be engaged in order to effectively combat terrorism and violent extremism. Japan had strengthened its national counter-terrorism efforts, including by putting biometric rules in place to secure its borders. Emphasizing that no country could fight terrorism alone, he pointed out that foreign terrorist fighters travelled to the Middle East and returned to their home countries to attack civilians, either with or without the direction of terrorist groups. Japan welcomed the portions of the resolution that called for greater engagement with civil society, women, youth and other parts of the private sector, he said.
FRANCISCO TENYA HASEGAWA (Peru), associating himself with CELAC, said the Strategy was a valuable tool in the fight against terrorism, adding that, 10 years on, it was more relevant than ever before and must be implemented in a coordinated, comprehensive and balanced way, across all pillars and guided by the obligations of Member States, in accordance with international law. Peru was particularly pleased to see the resolution’s recommendations aimed at reducing inequality and strengthening social fabrics in order to avoid the radicalization of individuals and ensure their inclusion in society. The international community must also prevent and combat the links between terrorism and trans-national organized crime, he said.
MAHLATSE MMINELE (South Africa) said that, since the Strategy’s adoption, the international community’s collective and individual successes had been tempered by terrorism and violent extremism, calling for new and innovative ways to deal with them. South Africa appreciated the important work carried out by the United Nations family, which had a central role in leading the international campaign against terrorism. While current initiatives would improve the cooperation and coordination among United Nations entities, the creation of any mechanism must be measured against its contribution in helping international efforts, rather than duplicating them, he emphasized. Terrorism could not be defeated militarily, he emphasized, adding that in order to counter terrorist narratives and ideologies, the international community must address the root causes of terrorism.
MOHAMED ELSHINAWY (Egypt), noting the evolution in the methods and scope of terrorism, said many countries had agreed to implement the Secretary-General’s recommendations, but they would not always be able to do so because they lacked financing. The Plan of Action contained no suggestions on how to address that hurdle, he noted. By reaching consensus on the resolution, Member States had sent a strong message that they were committed to fighting terrorism, he said, pointing out that the text contained important paragraphs on foreign terrorist fighters, financing and the use of communications technology, as well as the links between terrorism and criminal organizations.
CARLOS OLGUÍN CIGARROA (Chile), associating himself with CELAC, said his country rejected and condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and supported efforts to counter it while respecting human rights and conforming to international law and international humanitarian law. He emphasized the need for close international cooperation in helping States implement the Global Strategy, with the participation of the private sector, women, young people and religious leaders. However, a great deal remained to be done, he said, adding that, besides an international convention to counter terrorism, there must be a better understanding of the drivers of violent extremism and the recruitment of young people by terrorist groups. He went on to emphasize the need to establish synergies between the Global Strategy and the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action.
OMAR MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the OIC, denounced any and all types of terrorist acts, including those carried out by States. The review of the Global Strategy was occurring against the backdrop of new forms of terrorism, which would require a new determination to counter them on the international community’s part. However, military interventions, the threat of or use of force, unilateral measures and the imposition of unfair sanctions clearly represented a very serious threat to global peace and security, he said, emphasizing that it was important to ensure that terrorism did not become associated with any one particular religion or ethnicity. Terrorism was an international phenomenon and must be denounced, irrespective of the perpetrator. Sudan was concerned about the aggressive spirit displayed against Muslims, which only served to deepen hatred.
MOHAMMED AL-SHAMSI (United Arab Emirates), associating himself with the OIC, said his country had adopted a comprehensive and multi-policy strategy to combat terrorism, focusing on the empowerment of society by encouraging participation in State-building and providing alternatives to the options posed by terrorist groups. The United Arab Emirates was working to provide youth with opportunities to fulfil their aspirations by investing in long-term development efforts to ensure the nation’s stability. He said that his country had also worked to promote the participation of women in all sectors of society. Emphasizing the crucial importance of putting laws and regulations in place to deter extremism and terrorism, he said that the Government had enacted amendments to its Terrorism Act in order to provide new tools for the prosecution of terrorists, while at the same time offering rehabilitation to those who rejected terrorism.
KAREL VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said that, while the resolution would enable the international community to step up efforts in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism, it was less ambitious than he had hoped for. The United Nations role should be strengthened to counter foreign terrorist fighters, with special attention to women and youth. Effective counter-terrorism strategies required a balanced approach. “When preventing and countering terrorist threats, no community can go at it alone,” he said, and added: “We need to share more information, stop more terrorists and secure our homelands.” Member States had different views on what drove violent extremism and terrorism and how to best counter that phenomenon, but the text sent a strong signal that the United Nations and Member States stood united against violence, intolerance and hatred.
IBRAHIM O.A. DABBASHI (Libya) said that, without a doubt, conflict resolution would deny terrorists the use of whole regions as safe havens. He stressed the need for regional cooperation, capacity-building and technical assistance, saying many countries that were victims of terrorism — including his — needed help. Libya’s Parliament and Government would like support to counter such groups as Da’esh, Al-Qaida and Ansar al Sharia, as well as wider international cooperation and assistance to implement relevant Security Council resolutions regarding foreign terrorist fighters and the financing of terrorism. He noted the close link between terrorism and other kinds of crime, such as money-laundering and trafficking in weapons, drugs and people. In Libya, Da’esh, Al-Qaida and Ansar al Sharia sought to control towns and oil resources. They threatened the unity and stability of Libya and neighbouring countries. The international community must take a strong position so that Libya could strengthen the rule of law, uphold its international obligations and stop the spread of terrorism. It also needed to provide the Libya army with the weapons, material and technical assistance.
THOMAS DAHL (Norway) said respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of expression must be upheld in order to counter radicalization and violent extremism. Supporting balanced implementation of the Strategy, he said the new Action Plan had given a much-needed emphasis to its Pillars 1 and 4. Improved coordination would help strengthen the United Nations’ role and appointing a coordinator would be an important step in that regard. Regarding Norway’s efforts, he said Parliament had adopted in April a white paper on global security challenges, which provided a framework for international efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism. He urged increased focus on the threat posed by foreign fighters returning home, stressing that 20 of the 34 who had returned to Norway had been indicted for, and four convicted of terrorism-related crimes. Real or perceived marginalization was a factor in the radicalization process, making Sustainable Development Goal 16, on peaceful inclusive societies, all the more important.
HENRY SUÁREZ (Venezuela), associating himself with CELAC, said his delegation rejected all terrorist acts; irrespective of the motivations and regardless of where they may take place. Venezuela’s fight against terrorism was reflected in its national and regional plans, and its adherence to many treaties and conventions on the subject. Terrorism adversely impacted socioeconomic developments and foreign occupation and interference were part of the factors that triggered it. The military intervention in Iraq and Libya aimed at defeating sovereign Governments created conditions that resulted in the creation of terrorist organizations. The recent surge of terrorism was due, in part, to financial and military support of violent non-State actors. The presence of foreign fighters had increased worldwide, which was cause for great concern. Terrorism could not be associated with any particular religion, civilization or ethnic group. Terrorism must be separated from the legitimate fight against colonialism.
IPEK ZEYTINOĞLU ÖZKAN (Turkey) said that in the last decade terrorist attacks had become more frequent and Istanbul had been targeted recently. Expressing condolences for those who lost lives in that and other attacks, she said that moving forward, associating terrorism with a religion was the wrong approach. There were no “good” or “bad” terrorists, she said, noting that Turkey was fighting against terrorist groups including Da’esh and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The United Nations had a central role to play in combating terrorism and the Strategy provided apt guidance on taking action in that regard. Respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and international law were an essential part of a successful counter-terrorism action plan, she said, underlining that a broad, balanced approach was needed to build communities’ resilience to the spread of terrorism.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), aligning himself with the OIC, said the ever-new threats were a concern. At the moment, a situation was unfolding in Bangladesh involving armed assailants. Institutional gaps in the United Nations system to address the underlying causes of terrorism must be addressed and corrected. The issue of needed resource flows must be also be addressed earnestly, beginning with an assessment of the funds required to implement initiatives. Bangladesh’s counter-terrorism efforts included working with educators, religious leaders and civil society to reach youth and other groups. Bangladesh was also seeking to bolster initiatives to target terrorists’ online presence and strengthen law enforcement capacities, among other things.
BORIS HOLOVKA (Serbia) said that, for a decade, the Strategy had been the cornerstone of joint efforts to eliminate terrorism. Serbia had worked to implement all relevant United Nations documents, with the Strategy’s pillars having led national efforts. Preventing radicalization was of paramount importance, he said, noting that terrorist recruitment was active in his region. As such, national preventive and social inclusion measures were needed by relevant governmental agencies. Promoting good governance and respect for human rights was essential for reducing the spread of terrorism, he said, noting that Serbia had launched an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) initiative to counter violent extremism. Today, joint efforts were needed more than ever before as terrorism posed an ever increasing threat. Failure to do so was unacceptable.
MUHAMMAD ANSHOR (Indonesia), associating himself with the OIC, said the Strategy should build on such promising developments and consider the challenges ahead. The United Nations could help by reaching out to global and regional groups, or counter-terrorism frameworks. In addition, preventive measures should encompass a range of aspects, from preventing the spread of terrorist narratives to averting terrorist attacks. Such measures were closely linked to addressing conditions conducive to terrorism, such as poverty. It was important to strengthen the United Nations role in building State capacity to prevent and combat terrorism, he said, advocating more effective monitoring and evaluation, and from States, national plans that optimized “soft measures”, such as education and dialogue.
MARTIN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said that countering terrorism required an integrated and multidimensional approach. It could not be faced only through defensive or security measures. Argentina attached great importance to prevention, he said, emphasizing the role of education and the media. Addressing the use of the Internet by terrorist groups and the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, required sustained cooperation, which was possible only through an exchange of experiences and best practices at the international level. While foreign terrorist fighters did not pose an imminent threat to Argentina or its region, they could not be ignored, he said, adding that terrorist networks could remain a serious threat for decades to come.
Right of Reply
The representative of Saudi Arabia responded to his counterpart from Syria, saying that the reality in that country spoke for itself. When the representative of Syria had said foreign Governments were financing terrorism, the statement had meant to divert attention from that Government’s actions. With regard to Israel, he said, that State had been killing Palestinians. The representative of Israel, however, had not mentioned that fact or Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. The resolution adopted today was the best evidence of efforts being undertaken by Saudi Arabia, he concluded.