Human Rights Must Be Core in Fight against Terrorism, Sixth Committee Hears as It Takes Up Ongoing Stalemate of Draft Convention to Eliminate Global Threat
Rule of law and respect for human rights must stay at the heart of the fight against terrorism, the Sixth Committee (Legal) heard today as it opened its first meeting of the seventy-first General Assembly session.
As the Committee took up the Secretary-General’s report on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/71/182), many speakers also expressed regret at the continued stalemate that prevented the finalization of the draft comprehensive convention on the matter.
The representative of Trinidad and Tobago, speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), called on all delegations to resolve outstanding political differences, particularly regarding the legal definition of international terrorism and the scope of activities to be included in the convention, so that consensus could be achieved on the draft. That convention was the appropriate instrument to strengthen the capacity of States, especially small States, to effectively combat the scourge.
Pakistan’s delegate also pointed out that, though the international community had invested billions of dollars in counterterrorism, the conditions conducive to terrorism were not being addressed. The killings continued in Kashmir and Palestine, while extreme right parties in the West were seeking to reap political dividends through deliberate hate-mongering. It was critical that the comprehensive convention distinguish between acts of terrorism and the legitimate struggle for self-determination.
The representative of Iran, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, echoed those words. He cautioned against equating terrorism with the legitimate struggle for self-determination and national liberation of peoples under colonial or alien domination. He called on the international community to reject measures such as the categorizing of States as terrorism-sponsoring or the unilateral preparation of lists accusing States of allegedly supporting terrorism.
Turkey’s representative also emphasized that an international legal framework was essential to eliminate existing legal gaps between States. Furthermore, she stressed that members of terrorist organizations should not be allowed to benefit from the right to asylum.
Noting the “questionable legality” of some of the measures implemented to eliminate terrorism, Brazil’s delegate added that terrorist organizations focused at provoking overreaction, aiming to explore narratives of abuse and oppression. “Unfortunately, many are falling into their trap,” he said.
Highlighting the importance of women and children in the fight against terrorism, the representative of Canada, also speaking for Australia and New Zealand, noted the call by some Member States during the General Assembly’s June review of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy for stronger language to promote the role of women and youth in preventing violent extremism.
Sri Lanka’s delegate reminded the Committee that in many parts of the world, violent extremism targeted vulnerable communities, children, minorities, women and girls. The entities of the United Nations system that dealt with those vulnerable groups and peoples must be included in the fight against terrorism.
Still, despite its many past successes, such as the 2005 Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the Sixth Committee was more famous for what it had not achieved, the representative of Liechtenstein observed: a draft comprehensive convention that combatted terrorism. Given the Committee’s inability to achieve agreement on the draft, he suggested that the item be taken off the Committee’s agenda, or discussed on a biannual basis.
Nonetheless, the representative of the United States, striking a hopeful note, emphasized that “we are seeing results.” Highlighting the role of the Security Council, he noted that various Council resolutions addressing a range of issues from aviation security to countering terrorist financing exemplified the meaningful role that the United Nations could play to address new challenges that arose in the fight against terrorism.
At the start of the meeting, the Committee Vice-Chair took up organizational matters, noting that at a meeting on 13 June 2016, the Committee had elected its Chairperson, Danny Danon (Israel) and three Vice-Chairpersons: Bilal Ahmad (Pakistan), Kaswamu Katota (Zambia) and Zoltan Turbek (Hungary). The Committee had also elected Isaias Medina (Venezuela) as Rapporteur.
Four working groups were also established by the Committee for the seventy-first session and their Chairs named. Those groups were as follows: the responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts to be chaired by Patrick Luna (Brazil); a convention on diplomatic protection, to be chaired by Thembile Joyini (South Africa); and the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction, to be chaired by Georgina Guillén-Grillo (Costa Rica); and measures to eliminate international terrorism to be chaired by Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka).
The Committee also approved the organization of its work contained in document A/C.6/71/L.1/Rev.1 as per the allocation of agenda items to the Sixth Committee by the General Assembly found in document A/C.6/71/1.
Speaking on measures to eliminate international terrorism were representatives of the Dominican Republic (speaking for CELAC), South Africa (speaking for the African Group), Armenia (speaking for the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (speaking for the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as in its national capacity), Cuba, Switzerland, Qatar, Libya, El Salvador, Peru, Sudan, Venezuela, Thailand, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Philippines, Lebanon, Colombia, Maldives, United Kingdom, Kuwait, Zambia, Japan, Russian Federation, Kenya, Eritrea, and Panama. Also speaking was a representative of the European Union.
The Sixth Committee (Legal) will next meet at 3:00 a.m. on 4 October, to continue its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism.
FRANCISCO ANTONIO CORTORREAL (Dominican Republic), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reiterated that group’s condemnation of all acts of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, including those cases in which States had been directly or indirectly involved. As a supporter of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Initiative, the Community had welcomed its fifth review process earlier in the year, which had kept the Initiative relevant to new trends of international terrorism. There should be a comprehensive and balanced approach to implementing the strategy’s four pillars, and every Member State was encouraged to present updates under that report. Terrorism was a serious threat to States and to the international community because it imperilled regional stability and global security. It could only be contained through greater international cooperation.
He went on to say that States must tackle conditions that were conducive to its spread, such as the dehumanization of victims and the lack of rule of law; however, none of those conditions should justify terrorism. Respect for international law was a precondition for success in the fight against terrorism. Action taken outside the international legal framework was not only illegal, it was also unjustifiable and unacceptable and could fuel the violent extremism conducive to terrorism. He also stressed his rejection of unilateral blacklists accusing States of allegedly supporting and sponsoring terrorism, as that practice was inconsistent with international law and should be discontinued.
ALI NASIMFAR (Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed its support for the provisions contained in General Assembly resolution 46/51 and other relevant United Nations resolutions. Terrorist acts represented a flagrant violation of international law and endangered the territorial integrity and stability of States, creating adverse conditions for economic and social development, among other challenges. Nonetheless, terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle for self-determination and national liberation of peoples under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation. The use of State power to suppress such peoples should be condemned, and actions, measures and the use or threat of use of force by any State against any of its Member States under the pretext of combating terrorism or to pursue its political aims should be rejected. That included the categorizing of States as terrorism-sponsoring or the unilateral preparation of lists accusing States of allegedly supporting terrorism.
He called on all States to refrain from extending political, diplomatic, moral or material support for terrorism, and voiced grave concern over the acute and growing threat by foreign terrorist fighters who travelled to perpetrate terrorist acts or receive terrorist training. States in the most affected regions must be supported in capacity-building to address that matter. There was also concern over the misinterpretation and misrepresentation of religions by terrorists to justify their instilling of hatred in the hearts and minds of youth. It was imperative to counter the narrative of terrorism through a comprehensive framework and to address its root causes by engaging clerics and community leaders from all denominations. He urged all States to consider ratifying or acceding to the thirteen international instruments to combat terrorism, and to observe the provisions of all international, regional and bilateral relating to terrorism.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), speaking for the African Group, said that there was no justification for terrorism and condemned all acts, methods and practices of terrorism, including State terrorism. While voicing appreciation for the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on the comprehensive convention on international terrorism, he stressed that the convention should not deny people their right to self-determination. The African Group would continue to work with other delegations on the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and to reach consensus on the draft convention. Emphasizing how African States were suffering because of terrorist acts, he underscored their commitment to address the scourge and he called for the convening of an international high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations in order to formulate a concerted response.
He also expressed concern about the increase in kidnappings and hostage-taking with the aim of raising funds or gaining political concessions. The financing of terrorism was a matter of grave concern for the international community. Because paying ransoms to terrorist groups was one of the main sources of funding for such groups, concrete measures must be put in place to address that matter and inter-state cooperation should be strengthened. Cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, including the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative, were welcomed, as was the Madrid Declaration and Plan of Action on Combating Terrorism in West and Central Africa. However, while African nations always endeavoured to implement related United Nations resolutions and meet international expectations, many countries were hampered by inadequate resources and weak capacity.
LIZANNE ACHING (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), aligned her delegation with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, and voiced concern that foreign terrorist fighters were being driven by profit incentives and/or radicalization through subversive materials, including printed publications, online resources, electronic media and personal evangelization. Technologies needed to be developed in order to prevent terrorists from intercepting online networks and adequate measures needed to be adopted to detect and control illicit behaviour or content on the Internet and bring perpetrators to justice. CARICOM remained fully committed to implementing the United Nations Counter Terrorism Strategy.
However, she continued, practical steps must be taken, from strengthening the capacity of States to counter terrorist threats to improving coordination of United Nations counter-terrorism activities. On a regional level, CARICOM member States were involved with the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, an organization of 27 States and territories in the Caribbean Basin committed to implementing measures to prevent terrorism. The comprehensive convention was the appropriate instrument, among other things, to prosecute terrorists and strengthen the international capacity of States, especially small States, to effectively combat international terrorism. She called for all outstanding political differences to be resolved, particularly the legal definition of international terrorism and the scope of activities to be included in the Convention, so that consensus could be achieved on the draft.
EGLANTINE CUJO (European Union) said that the Union had reviewed and strengthened its 2014 counter-terrorism/foreign terrorist fighters strategy focusing on Syria and Iraq. It had developed a network of counterterrorism experts in European Union delegations and was managing a network of 11 counter-terrorism and security experts posted to delegations in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey. That network had been expanded to Chad and Bosnia and Herzegovina and civilian counter-terrorism expertise had been added to Lebanon. The European Union was equally engaged in the multilateral fora, with the United Nations central to its partnerships.
Noting the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy, she welcomed the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action and the efforts to promote its implementation by relevant United Nations entities. The work and initiatives of the Global Counterterrorism Forum should be more strongly reflected in the Organization’s counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism agenda. The recently launched Life Cycle Initiative Toolkit for practitioners and decision makers was accessible online to all United Nations Member States. Reiterating her call for all Member States to ratify and implement all United Nations legal instruments to counter terrorism, she said that the European Union remained committed to the successful conclusion of the comprehensive convention on international terrorism.
CATHERINE BOUCHER (Canada), (also speaking for Australia and New Zealand) underscored the global spread of extremist violent groups like ISIL/Da’esh and others; that terrorist organization’s capacity to recruit young people represented a real threat to the international community. While commending the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism and the General Assembly’s June review of the Counter-Terrorism strategy, there was a call from some countries that stronger language was needed to promote the role of women and youth in preventing violent extremism. As well, violent extremism was not restricted to a particular religion, culture or ethnic group, and solutions from the international community should be tailored to local contexts.
Canada, New Zealand and Australia, she said, participated in the work of the Global Counterterrorism Forum meeting in September. Highlighting the unanimous passing of the resolution on terrorist threats to civil aviation, she also underscored the obligation of Member States to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions that addressed the funding of terrorism, and the recruitment and movement of fighters. International laws, she said, should take those resolutions into account so that action could be taken against terrorists, wherever they may be.
TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia), speaking for the Collective Security Treaty Organization, condemned all manifestations of terrorism, which could not be justified in any way. He called for the full implementation of relevant resolutions and the Counter-Terrorism Initiative Strategy. States must put a stop to threats by terrorist organizations such as ISIL/Da’esh, Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaida, and other groups. The elimination of the global scourge could only be accomplished by broadening collaboration by States. It was fundamentally important to counter terrorist and extremist ideologies. States must strengthen their efforts to counter radical propaganda and examine steps that could be taken by civil society, the media, and religious communities, among others. A successful struggle against the challenge would involve stopping the funding of terrorism as called for by Security Council resolutions 2199 (2015) and 2253 (2015) and the implementation of a financial taskforce.
KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), stated the Association’s full support to fight terrorism in all its forms. The nature of international terrorism was complex, and terrorist practice itself was constantly evolving. The review conference of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy had reaffirmed the importance of integrated and balanced implementation of all four pillars of the Strategy.
He went on to say that the ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism, which had been ratified by all ten ASEAN member States, served as a framework for regional cooperation. Terrorism could not and must not be associated with any race, religion, ethnicity or nationality. Furthermore, the principles of independence and sovereign equality of States, as well as non-interference in domestic affairs should be wholly respected as they were essential in ensuring an effective counter-terrorism response. He reaffirmed the importance that the Sixth Committee continue deliberation on the draft comprehensive convention on International Terrorism.
TANIÉRIS DIEGUEZ LA O(Cuba), associating her delegation with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, condemned States that financed and supported regime changes through the use of modern technology; that was a violation of the Charter and international law. The international community could not accept that some States, under the banner of the fight against terrorism, committed flagrant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. As well, terrorism should not be used as a political instrument. Cuba, party to 18 international instruments on terrorism, was committed to strengthening the role of the United Nations, offering new initiatives and measures to combat the scourge. She also voiced full support for convening an international conference under United Nations auspices so that an organized response to terrorism could be developed. For decades, her country had suffered the consequences of terrorist acts. A terrorist of Cuban origin, Luis Posada Carriles, who had been responsible for the mid-air explosion of an airplane off the coast of Barbados in 1976, was still free. In a few days’ time, Cubans would mark the fortieth anniversary of that heinous act.
DAMARIS CARNAL (Switzerland), voiced regret that the Legal Committee had not yet responded to the appeal, issued in the final document of the 2005 World Summit, for a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. Such an instrument would have strengthened efforts to counter terrorist attacks and would have given the international community a harmonized definition of terrorism as an international crime. Nevertheless, stressing that the United Nations played a key role in combatting terrorism, she said that her Government was fully determined to implement all relevant United Nations instruments in the fight against terrorism, as well as the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which was the frame of reference. Among other things, the preventive dimensions of the resolution adopted in the latest review of the Strategy referred to the impact of counter-terrorism measures on humanitarian and medical assistance during armed conflict situations. Another challenge was the large numbers of children recruited for or involved in terrorism-related activities. Juvenile justice was also an important part of the Strategy’s developments. The Global Counterterrorism Forum’s adoption of the “Neuchâtel Memorandum on Good Practices for Juvenile Justice in a Counterterrorism Context” on 21 September was another step forward.
SAOUD AL QAHTANI (Qatar) said that collective efforts must be taken to counter and eliminate terrorism. Extremist organizations were active in societies that had pressing social needs, challenges arising from marginalizing ethnic and religious groups, and long-lasting conflicts which deprived people of self-determination. Terrorists tried to associate themselves with ideologies in order to recruit young people. It was critical that States cooperate more fully to achieve a more comprehensive convention against terrorism. Qatar was actively involved in negotiations, including coming up with a specific definition of terrorism and specifying the lack of a link between terrorism and religion. However, it was important to distinguish between terrorism and legitimate self-defence, especially for countries that were occupied. His country was party to most international agreements against terrorism in accordance with the belief that international coordination was crucial to countering it.
PATRICK LUNA(Brazil), aligning himself with CELAC, said that his country was signatory to fourteen international legal instruments against terrorism negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations, as well as to the Inter‑American Convention against Terrorism. However, noting the “questionable legality” of some of the measures implemented to eliminate terrorism, he added that terrorist organizations focused on provoking overreaction, aiming to explore narratives of abuse and oppression. “Unfortunately, many are falling into their trap,” he said. Counterterrorism could only be effective to the extent that it was consistent with the United Nations Charter and norms of international law. Noting the current absence of a universally agreed-upon definition of terrorism, he called upon the international community to overcome the current stalemate in the processes leading to the adoption of the comprehensive convention and to the convening of a high-level conference under the auspices of the Organization.
IPEK ZEYTINOĞLU ÖZKAN (Turkey) said that the Turkish authorities had informed the international community about the threat posed by the Fethullah Gulen terrorist organization, a “clandestine cult” which had “dared to terrorize the Turkish people with a coup plot on the night of 15 July,” he said. As a member of the global coalition against Da’esh, his country was actively contributing to the implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions, including by preventing the travel of foreign terrorist fighters and enhancing border security. Noting that an international legal framework was essential to eliminate existing legal gaps between States, she added that members of terrorist organizations should not be allowed to benefit from the right to asylum. States should not turn a blind eye to propaganda, financial and recruitment activities of terrorist organizations. On a national level, Turkey was implementing programmes to prevent the recruitment of new terrorists and had been actively contributing to multilateral efforts on countering and violent extremism.
NAGIB I. S. KAFOU (Libya), associating himself with the Africa Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that terrorist acts should be differentiated from the struggle for self-determination. Furthermore, conflict zones were often seen as “safe havens” for terrorism, while also providing opportunity for those organizations to recruit large numbers of people affected by conflict. Libya was affected by terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida and ISIL/Da’esh, who were trying to control Libyan cities and national treasures to finance terrorism. Those groups were also giving safe haven to terrorists of different nationalities. He said that Libyan authorities should be supported through the provision of necessary equipment for border control to prevent weapon smuggling and the entry of terrorists. He also noted that perpetrators of terrorism should be held accountable for their acts, including torture and the capture of women for use as sexual slaves. A final version of the comprehensive convention was needed in order to have a clear definition of terrorism and methods for tackling its root causes.
HECTOR ENRIQUE CELARIE LANDAVERDE (El Salvador), associating himself with CELAC, said his country had ratified most regional and international treaties on terrorism. Since 2006, El Salvador had put into place a special law against terrorism geared towards prosecuting it in all manifestations, including funding. He added that as part of its domestic judicial framework, the constitutional chamber of El Salvador’s Supreme Court had passed a ruling declaring it criminal to seek to usurp State powers within the scope of terrorism. That national decision reflected his country’s firm commitment to combat terrorism and to implement measures fully compatible with legal requirements. It was a task that could only be accomplished through legitimate methods that could be monitored.
ANGEL V. HORNA (Peru), associating his delegation with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said States must prevent terrorism and deal with issues that led to its spread. Peru had begun implementing the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to tackle violent extremism. It was important to avoid using the religious narrative, avoid radicalisation and make sure all were included in society. States must also tackle terrorists’ modes of financing and their links to transnational organized crime which had been feeding those groups with weapons and resources. He called for Member States to step up customs measures and deal with money laundering. His Government had given powers to its financial sector to freeze the assets of those linked with terrorism, and was making efforts to allow the unit to have access to bank documents as detailed by the Constitution.
ELSADIG ALI (Sudan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, condemned all forms of terrorism, including State-sponsored terrorism, and called for a comprehensive, coherent and sustainable response to the scourge. His Government attached great importance to international treaties on counterterrorism and was active in the Organization of the Islamic Conference to that end. The Counterterrorism Strategy was one of the most important international legal frameworks for guiding national and international norms and national mechanisms should be aligned with that strategy. On a national platform, Sudan had taken various measures to combat terrorism, such as establishing a national agency and drawing up a national strategy. While also leveraging civil society organizations and media, Sudan was also tightening border controls and strengthening the fight against organized crime.
ISAIAS ARTURO MEDINA MEJIAS (Venezuela), associating himself with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the “illegal military intervention in Iraq and Libya” had been designed to overthrow the Governments, in violation of the United Nations Charter. Conditions then enabled ISIL/Da’esh, Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. The collapse of State institutions led to a “hotbed” for developing violent extremism and illegal arms trafficking, as well as the training of foreign fighters. Citing the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization, he noted that chaos in Libya had led to the rise of local radical groups, which had stepped up their relationships with international terrorist networks. In addition, ISIL/Da’esh was a direct result of the destabilizing intervention in Iraq. His country had complied with its obligations by submitting reports on measures taken as required by the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, and by carrying out reforms needed in national laws to apply controls on funding terrorism and controls on chemical weapons and nuclear material. He also condemned the recruitment and use of children to carry out terrorist attacks, and said that children accused or convicted of breaking the law, particularly when they had been deprived of their freedom, must have their rights and dignity respected.
CHULAMANEE CHARTSUWAN (Thailand), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned movement, said that her country had been working to enhance its domestic legal framework to respond to terrorist threats. Along with the Transnational Organized Crime Act, which was promulgated in 2013, her Government was committed to fully implementing, at the regional level, the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism. In terms of international terrorism and the usage of weapons of mass destruction, Thailand was active in several cooperation frameworks such as the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, as well as fully supporting the United Nations Counter Terrorism Committee and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate. The finalization of the draft comprehensive convention would represent a signification contribution to the fight against terrorism. However, she stressed that root causes of terrorism and radicalization, such as poverty, social marginalization, lack of access to resources, and a sense of injustice, must be addressed.
INA KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of capacity building, as well as strengthening national, regional and global cooperation in the area of prevention. Indonesia had worked to strengthen democracy and accommodate the rights of minorities. Her country had limited the appeal of extremism by acknowledging economic inequality and was working hard to reduce poverty and combat corruption. It had also encouraged the political participation of Islamist parties that might otherwise have been violent outsiders, appealing to those who felt they had no relevance. Underlining the importance of a three-pronged approach to dialogue, empowerment and reintegration in countering terrorism and implementing de‑radicalization strategies, she said the objective was to build trust, eradicate the ideology of terrorism and employ former terrorists to preach the error of their ways. In addition, it was essential that de-radicalization programmes were complemented by counter-radicalization in order to provide the public with narratives to counter those of terrorists.
YEMDAOGO ERIC TIARE (Burkina Faso), pointing out that his country had been the victim of terrorism, highlighted the attack of 15 January, this year, which killed 30 people. Heinous attacks in many countries were proof that no State was spared. Burkina Faso had undertaken institutional and legal reforms to prevent and eliminate terrorism, which included a mechanism to better define terrorist attacks, as well as the ability to incriminate those who praised or vindicated terrorism. Cross-border and international cooperation was important as an effective means of grappling with terrorist threats, and he noted in particular the support given to his country by France, the United States and Côte D’Ivoire. Underscoring the connection between terrorism and cross-border crime, he emphasized the importance of Sahel country initiatives to combat terrorist activities. He stressed the importance of the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action, adding that his country awaited the finalization and adoption of a general convention on terrorism. Furthermore, the root causes of terrorism, such as poverty, discrimination and displacement, should also be tackled.
ALINA JULIA ARGÜELLO GONZÁLEZ (Nicaragua), aligning herself with CARICOM, stated that the so‑called war against terrorism was causing millions of deaths and creating huge refugee movements. Hundreds of terrorist attacks had taken place over the course of the current year and the international community had seen pictures of families living through horrors. It was necessary to go beyond words. Terrorists should be prosecuted and extradited where necessary, without double standards. She voiced her support for the adoption of a comprehensive convention against terrorism and called on all Member States to be flexible. In order to change the current world into a better world, families and societies must make a true commitment to peace and equality among nations.
MOHAMED SALEH ALSHAMSI (United Arab Emirates), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the statement to be made by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that his region had seen a wave of terrorist acts and had become a safe haven for terrorist groups. Terrorist organizations had developed advanced methods to finance their efforts and had created thousands of victims. He said there was a need to shed light on the lies promoted by terrorists, and that his country was working with the United States by using social networks and a centre in Abu Dhabi to counter the message put out by ISIL/Da’esh. The United Arab Emirates had subscribed to 15 international instruments to counter terrorism, and passed a number of laws in national legislation to convict terrorists and prevent terrorist networks from taking root. “Mistakes are made,” he said, adding “in that context the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act law in the US comes to mind.” He also said that his country, by participating in the international alliance against ISIL/Da’esh, had been able to weaken Da’esh and to affect a large part of its financing. He noted his country and the United Kingdom were co-chairing a committee geared to building a counterterrorism centre in Washington.
JÖRN OLIVER EIERMANN (Liechtenstein) stressed that measures to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law had to be the basis for the fight against terrorism. Regrettably, such measures were often just an afterthought and many counter-terrorism operations were undertaken without due regard for the rights of civilians. The United Nations was at the centre of global efforts to combat terrorism and the respective roles of the Security Council, General Assembly and Secretariat were complementary and mutually reinforcing. The Sixth Committee also had made important contributions in the past, including the 1997 Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, the 1999 convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the 2005 Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Somewhat unfairly, though, the Committee was more famous for what it had not achieved: agreement on a general convention on counterterrorism, which would fill the gaps between the various sectoral conventions. Since 2005, when the Heads of State gathered at the World Summit Outcome mandated the Sixth Committee to conclude negotiations during the sixtieth session, the Committee had failed 11 times to complete that mandate. He suggested that the item be taken off the Sixth Committee’s agenda. If that was not possible, he agreed with the European Union’s suggestion to discuss the issue on a biannual basis.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, pointed out that her country had been the principal victim of much terrorism, losing more than 60,000 lives. A national plan was being executed that focused on countering and preventing terrorism, while promoting the rule of law, and social and economic empowerment of women and youth. The international community had created numerous counterterrorism structures and had invested billions of dollars but terrorism continued to morph into more dangerous forms. An important factor was an unwillingness to address conditions conducive to terrorism. Furthermore, the international community had not yet addressed longstanding situations of conflict. The killings continued in Kashmir and Palestine, while extreme‑right parties in the West were seeking to reap political dividends by deliberately hate-mongering. She called for the provisions of the comprehensive convention to distinguish between acts of terrorism and the legitimate struggle for self‑determination.
ANDRIY TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine), associating his delegation with the European Union, said that since 2014, his country had learned from its own experience “what foreign-grown terrorism feels like”. There was roughly a 39,000-strong terrorist force in Donbas, stemming in large part from the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation was using its State-controlled mass-media to spread disinformation to its own population, creating the fertile ground for the spread of terrorist propaganda. For over two years, his Government had provided the international community with “extensive and irrefutable” evidence of direct involvement of the Russian Federation. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation had tried to avoid responsibility, shifting attention away from itself by using other conflicts throughout the world, in particular in Syria, to blame others for the same tactics it continued to pursue in Ukraine. The financing, planning and inciting of terror acts was contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. States Parties were obliged to bring to justice those who had participated in such acts. While he expressed support for the European Union’s call for the rationalization of work under the present agenda idea, he said that any decision should not affect the continuity of the Committee’s work.
LOURDES ORTIZ YPARRAGUIRE (Philippines) said terrorism remained one of the gravest threats to international peace and security, adding that his country reaffirmed its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms. The Philippines had prepared a framework for countering violent extremism through the “whole‑of‑nation”‑ approach, which gathered non-traditional Government agencies, academia and private sector agents in countering radicalization. Through the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, his country had also mobilized Muslim leaders, especially women, through the establishment of a national network. The Philippines also continued to raise security awareness in local communities, training community members to monitor and prevent terrorist attacks against vital installations and critical infrastructure.
YOUSSEF HITTI (Lebanon) said that his country had recently launched consultations with key actors to elaborate a comprehensive national plan consistent with international law, in particular the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action. “We can no longer let terrorist groups take advantage of the failures of the international community to solve acute crises and exploit the flaws of our societies,” he said, adding that preventative efforts must be redoubled, in particular through the empowerment of women and youth. The right to self-determination and the right to resist foreign occupation should not be associated with terrorism by a certain delegation, which remained strangely silent when terrorist acts were committed by its nationals against civilians living under occupation for almost half a century. Such mix-ups reflected the need to devise an explicit and unified definition of terrorism, to be reflected in the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism.
VASSANA MOUNSAVENG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said that his country was among those Member States which had ratified 13 relevant international conventions on counterterrorism, among other actions. At the regional level, Lao People’s Democratic Republic was a party to the ASEAN Counter Terrorism Convention and a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering. In cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other international organizations, it had conducted workshops and seminars to promote awareness on international counterterrorism conventions among Laotian officials, judges, prosecutors and lawyers, as well as member of the National Assembly, with a view to ensuring all Government sectors were aware of their roles and duties and could contribute to the implementation of the relevant international conventions on counterterrorism.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ BLANCO (Colombia), associating himself with CELAC, said that those who resort to terrorism had no limits when attacking States. In recent years, ISIL, Al-Qaida and Boko Haram had used violent extremism to promote a rhetoric of hatred through the world. He highlighted the importance of the rights of victims, including their right to be heard and that there be mechanisms to protect those rights. He also noted the importance of the work of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. In regards to recent events in Colombia and the peace agreement that was recently held for referendum after decades of conflict and terrorist activity, he said that despite the results of the national referendum, where the citizens of Colombia denied approval of the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (FARC-EP), he believed that it was the only way to achieve peace with respect for differences.
AHMED SAREER (Maldives) stated that as a country where Islam was woven into the very fabric of society, his country would not tolerate the possibility of violent extremists distorting the message of Islam to promote terrorism. Calling for cooperation between domestic agencies and international organizations, he added that a number of robust measures to prevent terrorism had been taken on the national level. Specific laws had been enacted and such legislative measures were complementary to international strategies, as for instance, in addressing the issue of foreign terrorist fighters. In addition to policy measures, Maldives was also undertaking institutional measures in order to effectively liaise with international security partners. Domestic efforts alone could not win the battle against terrorism, especially for countries that lacked the resources to meet the evolving problems of international terrorism.
JONATHAN DOWDALL (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, pointed to dangerous trends in global terrorism, including the continued spread of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and its use of the internet to recruit and radicalize individuals, and the recent attacks by lone actors in Europe and elsewhere. To combat the rise of violent extremism, strong leadership from the United Nations was required. The United Kingdom would build on the review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism. To that end, his Government had proposed a national joint statement that outlined principles for such global leadership to prevent violent extremism, and he invited Member States to join that statement by 7 October. He also noted the various attacks on airports and flights in recent years that led to his country’s proposed Security Council resolution, adopted unanimously on 22 September [resolution 2309 (2016)]. Member States must take up that resolution and work together, as well as with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), to raise aviation security standards globally.
BASHAR ABDULAH E R S ALMOWAIZRI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the statement to be made by the OIC, said that his country has always struggled against terrorism. It was also party to 18 conventions against terrorism, as well as additional bilateral agreements. He urged Member States to do their utmost to adopt the convention against terrorism so that “terrorism” and “State terrorism” were defined and did not hinder people’s right to self-determination. He emphasized the importance of combatting money-laundering, as reflected in his country’s law on money laundering and financing of terrorism by which a monitoring group would be established. The group, he said, would also analyse information about income suspected of being connected to crime and terrorism. He said Kuwait would be hosting a meeting of a task force to combat funding for ISIL/Da’esh on 24 October.
KASWAMU KATOTA (Zambia), associating his delegation with the Africa Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his Government worked to suppress terrorism through various actions, including implementing national legislative reforms and various anti-terrorism treaties. The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, No. 2 of 2015 would enable the establishing of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre. That Centre would provide policy and administrative framework mechanisms to enable implementation of the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act, the United Nations Convention on the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism, and Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1373 (2001), among others. In addition to forming such a strong framework, his Government had also established the Financial Intelligence Centre, which was responsible for the receipt, request, analysis and dissemination of the disclosure of suspicious transaction reports to law enforcement agencies and designated foreign authorities.
JUN HASABE (Japan) said that the limitations in counter-terrorism capacity of any country had global implications. As a result it was vital for the international community to assist countries. His country would support improved border controls by providing equipment such as fingerprint readers and surveillance cameras, as well as capacity-building programs including seminars for immigration and customs officials. Japan would play a leading role in stabilizing Asia and making it resilient to terrorism by mobilizing all the tools available, including Official Development Assistance (ODA). Approximately 45 billion yen over the next three years would be provided towards that end for Asia as comprehensive counter-terrorism measures, including capacity building, countering violent extremism, and social and economic development assistance. He also noted Japan’s support of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, and said that he expected an early conclusion of the negotiation process for the draft convention.
STEPHEN TOWNLEY (United States), stating “we are seeing results”, pointed out that over the last year, the flow of foreign terrorist fighters had declined substantially due in large part to the global community’s efforts. His country had information-sharing agreements with 56 international partners. Approximately 60 countries had laws in place to provide the ability to prosecute foreign terrorist fighters. From aviation security to countering terrorist financing, various Security Council resolutions were strong examples of the meaningful role that the United Nations could play to address new challenges that arose in the fight against terrorism. The Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy remained just as valid today as it was when it was adopted ten years ago. Citing the Secretary‑General, he said that the strategy’s four pillars still served as the best way to ensure that “counterterrorism is not counterproductive.” Of particular note was the General Assembly’s recognition of the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action and the establishing of a concrete timeline for that body to review and decide on how best to shape the United Nations architecture to more effectively implement the Global Strategy.
SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka), aligning herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stated that international networks with linkages to organized crime were a critical lifeline for terrorist groups. Such networks enabled terrorists to propagate their ideologies, raise funds and acquire arms. “Our wildlife and forests, our flora and fauna are being ravaged,” due to transnational organized crime, she stated. The Global Counterterrorism Strategy served as a rallying call to action and represented a common strategic and operational framework to fight terrorism. Furthermore, in many parts of the world, violent extremism targeted vulnerable communities, children, minorities, women and girls. It was therefore imperative to proactively include and engage those entities of the United Nations system that dealt with minorities, women, children and girls.
MAXIM V. MUSIKHIN (Russian Federation) said the review of the Global Strategy confirmed that a comprehensive approach to terrorism had been established, with military and law enforcement activities accompanied by system-wide attempts to prevent terrorism. He noted however, that “the results of our work are far from ideal,” and that in international terrorist cooperation there was still a double standard being applied, as well as the “politicization” of how to identify terrorists and extremists, which were being divided into “bad” and “not entirely bad ones.” He also noted the growing threat of foreign terrorist fighters who return home from conflict areas with expertise and networks. That matter should be combated with system-wide links between customs, immigration, border control and financial bodies. In the last two years, more attention had been given to preventing violent extremism. At the same time a number of States were “seriously at odds” on how to define that concept, and there was an absence of consensus in the Secretary-General’s plan. Referring to the earlier statement by the representative of Ukraine, he noted that the Russian Federation had responded to those comments in the General Assembly and Security Council.
JAMES NDIRANGU WAWERU (Kenya) stated that nearly all the deadliest international conflicts the United Nations was grappling with today concerned violent extremist movements and non-State actors. Countering the narrative and ideologies of terrorist groups was an important preventive measure. The Secretary-General’s Plan of Action had correctly advised that law and order measures alone would not win the war. His country’s strategy was anchored on the need to inspire and facilitate an all-inclusive rejection of all extremist ideologues. Investments had been made in technology and skills, and prevention and counter radicalization were being added to complement the traditional security approaches. Furthermore, it was crucial to engage all faith-based communities and provide support to families and society to accept back reformed extremists.
SANHAR PETUS (Eritrea), associating herself with the African Group and the statement to be made by the OIC, said that the rise of terrorism meant that innocent people were being killed, which impeded development, and that young people were being lured to join extremist groups. Eritrea was located in a region where extremism and terrorism had claimed many lives and had led to foreign intervention. Emphasizing that Eritrea supported regional cooperation, she urged that that the root causes of terrorism and State-sponsored terrorism be examined. Her country had enacted anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws, and had participated in regional and international conferences on violent extremism and counter-terrorism. She noted that the rise of terrorism in the region was a real threat to her country’s economic development and asked that the United Nations lift its “unjust sanctions” against Eritrea so that it could contribute further to efforts to combat terrorism.
ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama) aligning herself with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed her country’s commitment to tackle and combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations in strict keeping with the international norms protecting human rights. Her Government’s criminal legal code had defined terrorism as a crime in 2003 and in 2011 the country had created a council for coordinating the fight against international terrorism. With a global vision of its responsibility, Panama had also supported international efforts to combat the financing of terrorism, by taking specific measures such as prison sentences for conviction under such crimes. In addition, Panama was working with other Central American countries to prevent, detect and fight terrorism, including nuclear terrorism.