The new Counter-Terrorism Office marked a milestone in efforts to improve United Nations efficiency in fighting terrorism, delegates in the General Assembly said today, calling on its freshly appointed head to strengthen coordination among the 38 agencies, funds and programmes, and affiliated organizations to end the scourge.
Peter Thomson (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, said this week’s terrorist attacks on internally displaced persons in Nigeria, a marketplace in Pakistan and civil servants in Afghanistan were tragic reminders of the scale of the challenge ahead. Following last month’s adoption of Assembly resolution 71/291 establishing the Office, and appointment of Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov as its Under-Secretary-General, today’s meeting was the next step for the Assembly in pursuing implementation of the 2006 Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
In the ensuing debate, delegates welcomed the appointment of Mr. Voronkov as the Office’s new Head, and outlined their broader views on how the United Nations could help States build capacity to address the spread of terrorism, adopt measures to prevent such behaviour and other steps to ensure respect for human rights. In reviewing the Secretary-General’s report (document A/71/858), many said it was critical for the new Office to support the balanced implementation of the Global Strategy across its four pillars.
With that in mind, the representative of the United States said the Office must prioritize the Secretary-General’s action plan to combat terrorism by promoting preventive measures that addressed the drivers of extremism. It should also engage local civil society, especially young people and women, and promote respect for human rights. The representative of the Russian Federation, meanwhile, underscored the need for targeted technical support from the United Nations and international community, noting that the murder in December 2016 of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey and the terrorist attack on a Saint Petersburg train in April demonstrated the importance of collective efforts.
Egypt’s delegate said the Office should help build national capacities and improve cooperation with regional organizations, such as the League of Arab States. It should also reflect on non-conventional methods and ensure financing for relevant counter-terrorism projects. Kenya’s delegate called for equitable geographic representation within the Office as its structure evolved, drawing particularly on the expertise of countries on the front lines of the war against terrorism, notably in Africa. He underscored the need to invest in deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration to win the war of ideas with violent extremist groups. Indonesia’s delegate encouraged the United Nations to consider deploying a global moderation movement, stressing: “We must be innovative.”
More broadly, speakers from Nicaragua, Maldives, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bangladesh and the Philippines were among those warning against linking terrorism to any culture, religion, ethnicity or nationality, with Saudi Arabia’s delegate stressing that fighting extremist ideology must remain a priority. Syria’s delegate expressed reservations about operative paragraph 3 of resolution 71/291, which should be reviewed, as it created a dangerous situation in giving Saudi Arabia privileges. To be independent, the Office must be free from political and financial pressures brought on by States that sought to undermine its goals.
Also today, the Assembly paid tribute to Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (Nicaragua), its sixty-third President from 2008 to 2009, who many said had dedicated his life to human rights and social justice. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, said Mr. d’Escoto would be remembered as a preeminent politician and priest, who promoted disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, and worked to fight terror and hunger throughout the world. Nicaragua’s delegate called Mr. d’Escoto a “fearless figure” of his country’s revolution who walked with the poor with an unwavering faith.
Turning to the Joint Inspection Unit, the General Assembly decided that the term of office for the person to replace Rajab Sukayri, who would resign on 31 December 2017, should be from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2019.
Also speaking today were representatives of Chad (on behalf of the African States), Myanmar (on behalf of the Asia-Pacific States), Jamaica (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States), Belgium (on behalf of the Western European and other States), Russian Federation (on behalf of the Eastern European States), Canada (also on behalf of New Zealand), Israel, Tunisia, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, United Kingdom, Kazakhstan, Iceland, China, Turkey, Argentina, Iran, Pakistan, Jordan and Morocco, as well as the European Union.
Tribute to Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann
Peter Thomson (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, paid tribute to Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the Assembly’s sixty-third President, calling him a renowned diplomat, politician, community leader and president, who dedicated his life to social justice. Mr. d’Escoto was a steadfast promotor of peace and non-violence and had played a key role in several peace processes within Central America. He was a tireless voice for unity and reconciliation. He had recognized the power of diplomacy and spent the bulk of his career ardently defending it. As President of the General Assembly, during a period of immense challenges, including the global financial crisis, Mr. d’Escoto had promoted his chamber as the central forum for global debate.
Mr. d’Escoto founded and supported civil society to serve the poor in his country, Nicaragua, Mr. Thomson continued. He mobilized assistance to help victims of natural disasters. Seven years prior to the Assembly’s adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Mr. d’Escoto spoke at the Assembly and urged Member States to be brave enough to challenge the vast inequities in the world; he called on all people to become leaders and do their part. His unwavering faith in the human spirit and stance on human rights made a difference in Nicaragua and beyond, Mr. Thomson said, extending the deepest condolences to Mr. d’Escoto’s family and friends.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI, Chef de Cabinet of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, said Mr. d’Escoto would be remembered as a preeminent politician and priest, who dedicated his life to serving his fellow citizens. The United Nations was grateful for his important role as President of the General Assembly from 2008 to 2009, particularly his emphasis on financing for development. He would be remembered for promoting disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, and for his efforts to fight terror and hunger throughout the world. He had advocated for United Nations reform and enhancing the Assembly’s critical role, she said, expressing condolences to his family, as well as the Government and people of Nicaragua.
ALI ALIFEI MOUSTAPHA (Chad), speaking on behalf of the African States, expressed his deepest condolences to the people and Government of Nicaragua, as well as to the family of Mr. d’Escoto. “Today we pay tribute to a man of God,” he said, who defined his priesthood as a path for the cause of peace, justice and dignity for his people. He had spent his life helping the poor, sharing with the world the voice of those who had none. As a man of State for more than 10 years, he defended Nicaragua strongly and successfully in international bodies, and was dedicated to the principles of non-violent activism, always calling for the General Assembly to play a more important role in global justice.
HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Asia-Pacific States, said that, during the time Mr. d’Escoto had presided over the General Assembly, he had steered deliberations towards the most crucial issues of hunger, poverty eradication, climate change and biodiversity protection. International peace and security, disarmament and terrorism were also high on his agenda. His support for the revitalization of the General Assembly had been widely recognized. Mr. d’Escoto would be remembered for his tireless efforts to build relations with other countries, he said, stressing: “He was a man of faith, a man of God and a man of humanity.”
COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that Mr. d’Escoto was a fierce advocate of multilateralism and international law. He supported the principles of active nonviolence, solidarity and social justice. Throughout his life, he exceeded the norm and was a tireless fighter, both through his priestly role and diplomatic practice. Mr. d’Escoto advocated for peace, security, development and was an ardent fighter against hunger and poverty. While at the helm of the General Assembly and faced with the mammoth task of addressing the Organization’s response to the 2008 global financial crisis, he reminded Member States of the critical role of the United Nations.
PASCAL BUFFIN (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the Western European and other States, said that Mr. d’Escoto, ordained a priest of the Maryknoll Missionaries in the early 1960s, had dedicated much of his life to helping the poor. During his tenure as Assembly President, he was committed to fulfilling the development agenda, organizing a high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, which aimed to push for accelerated progress to improve the living conditions of the world’s poorest people. Prior to that, Mr. d’Escoto was Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua for 10 years, also serving as Senior Adviser to the President.
PETR ILIICHEV (Russian Federation), speaking on behalf of Eastern European States, said Mr. d’Escoto was a friend and colleague to many in the General Assembly Hall, having advocated for peace and justice and showing deep respect for multilateralism. Mr. d’Escoto’s priorities were addressing the problems of rising energy and food prices around the world. He also dealt with issues of terrorism, disarmament, cultural diversity, the rights of women and children, and the protection of biodiversity. “Mr. d’Escoto wasn’t afraid of expressing his real and sometimes courageous views,” he said.
MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua) said that Mr. d’Escoto was a fearless figure of his country’s revolution. He lived with the humble and walked with the poor with an unwavering faith in social justice. He remained committed to the very last minute of his life to fight without cowardice. He sowed the seeds of life in Chile and Nicaragua in moments of sorrow. He forged partnerships with countries that were fighting for independence. He met with leaders from different countries. He struggled for Nicaragua to forge close relations with the rest of the world.
In the United Nations, he pushed for reform so that all countries could have rights, be equal and ensure peace, she continued. To the last minute, Mr. d’Escoto believed in fighting for the sovereignty of all people. He believed in justice and respect for international law. Mr. d’Escoto “will continue to accompany us as we wage a daily battle for our people”. Christian socialist principles of solidarity made it possible to build peace in Nicaragua. They also made possible the fight against social injustice and exclusion. Mr. d’Escoto felt the suffering of the Palestinians “as if it was his own”, she said, stressing that “he wished to see Arabs and Jews and Christians live in peace”.
Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy
Mr. THOMPSON said that, this week, the world had witnessed horrific terrorism, targeting internally displaced persons in Nigeria, a marketplace in Pakistan and civil servants commuting to work in Afghanistan. They were tragic reminders of the scale of the challenge faced in fighting terrorism and violent extremism. Every decent tenet of human philosophy and religion, of human rights, thought, principles and culture abhorred such behaviour. It was with that in mind that the General Assembly last month adopted resolution 71/291 to establish the Office of Counter-Terrorism, an important step in strengthening the United Nations capacity to prevent terrorism and violent extremism. Since then, Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov had been appointed to head the Office. Today’s meeting was a next step to pursue implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he said, stressing that sharing knowledge and increasing cooperation would enable global efforts in that regard.
MICHAEL GRANT (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said it was critical that the new Counter-Terrorism Office ensured the balanced implementation of all four pillars of the Global Strategy, including the prevention of violent extremism. The world must work together more than ever to prevent and respond to terrorism and violent extremism. Collaboration among a broad range of partners, including civil society, youth, women and the private sector, was crucial. Since the Global Strategy was adopted in 2006, the threat posed by terrorism had evolved; the response must also be adapted to reflect the changing picture. International counter-terrorism efforts must ensure enhanced efforts focused on preventing violent extremism and promoting human rights.
ANCA CRISTINA MEZDREA, European Union, endorsed the Secretary-General’s prevention agenda, and welcomed the establishment of the new Counter-Terrorism Office, which should take into account the drivers of violent extremism in its work. A comprehensive approach must also involve youth, women, local communities and terrorism victims in executing policies. She stressed the need for more efficient coordination in the United Nations system, and between the Organization and other forums. It was important to foster a spirit of systematic cooperation and to monitor the impact of the Organization in its future work. She advocated a balanced approach across the Global Strategy’s four pillars and pledged to cooperate with the new Office in that regard.
DANNY DANON (Israel) said it had been one week since three family members had been knifed to death in his country. “We must understand what drives terrorists,” he said, cautioning against being led by false narratives. Israel’s adversaries were blaming last week’s attack on a supposed change in the status quo on the Temple Mount. Israel had reiterated its commitment to safeguarding the status quo and was committed to keeping Temple Mount open, safe and secure for all worshipers and visitors, having amended its security procedures in Jerusalem as an act of good will. The real cause of terrorism in Palestinian society was the same as it was throughout the world: de-legitimization of the other and the glorification of senseless violence against innocents as legitimate forms of expression, he said, welcoming the creation of the new Counter-Terrorism Office. Israel did not have the luxury to pretend that Hamas and Hizbullah were political organizations or resistance movements. They were violent extremist terrorists and the international community must not pretend otherwise.
MOHAMED IBRAHIM EL SHINAWY (Egypt) stressed the need to improve coordination among United Nations agencies charged with combating terrorism. The Organization must supervise the global fight against terrorism while respecting the sovereignty of States and avoiding all interference in their domestic affairs. Technical support should be carried out with Member States’ approval. Terrorism must not be linked to any religion. The new Counter-Terrorism Office should focus on building national capacities so that Governments could be equipped to fight terrorism, he said, stressing the importance of stronger cooperation between the Counter-Terrorism Office and regional organizations, including the League of Arab States. The Office must work with the International Forum to Combat Terrorism, reflect on non-conventional methods and ensure financing for relevant counter-terrorism projects. A country approach that empowered States would allow Governments to better finance their counter-terrorism activities, he added, stressing the need to also combat hate speech and speech that promoted extremism.
MICHELE SISON (United States) welcomed recent efforts to streamline the response to implement the global counter-terrorism agenda while reducing duplication with the 38 United Nations bodies involved in counter-terrorism. That would help better identify and respond to emerging terrorism threats. More than a decade old, the Global Strategy had aged well, she continued, adding that it was imperative to ensure its balanced implementation. Years of experience had shown that terrorism could not be defeated with countering violence alone. The United Nations was uniquely positioned to combat extremism and hate speech. The Office must place priority on the Secretary-General’s action plan to combat terrorism by promoting preventive measures that directly addressed the drivers of extremism. The United Nations and the new Office should engage local civil society, she said, stressing the important role of youth and women groups in particular in fighting terrorism. She also encouraged the Office to promote respect for human rights as a core element of successfully implementing the Global Strategy.
KARIMA BARDAOUI (Tunisia) condemned terrorism in all its forms, no matter its motivations. The creation of the Counter-Terrorism Office reflected the need to strengthen coordination, coherence and cooperation in combating such behaviour, she said, welcoming the nomination of Mr. Voronkov as its new Head. She advocated an integrated and balanced approach of the four pillars of the Strategy, emphasizing the importance that terrorists understand that the international community was mobilized and resolute in eradicating terrorism. For its part, Tunisia had acceded to various legal instruments. It had ratified 14 international conventions, including the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. It also had ratified all regional conventions, including the Arab Convention to Combat Terrorism. At the national level, Tunisia had adopted a law in 2015 to prevent money-laundering, and in 2016, devised a national strategy to combat extremism and terrorism, which she called the “starting point” for concerted action.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said nuclear terrorism, radiological terrorism and cyberterrorism were some of the terms used for “apocalyptic” threats that had emerged as non-State actors adapted their strategies to strike and threaten innocent people. “Developing a comprehensive global response ought to be our highest priority,” he said, stressing the need for an early conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which would reflect the unwavering common commitment to cooperate in combating terrorism. “Imagination and integration remain two of our major shortcomings,” he said. He asked where terrorists were trained and how their work was financed, expressing equal concern that the reaction to terrorism differed from one geography to another. South Asia, for example, had seen international efforts fatigue from a long war in Afghanistan. He cautioned against “buying individual peace” by striking deals that diverted terrorists elsewhere, and instead, persuade States to stop using terrorism as a card in the games they played.
VASSILY ALEKSEEVICH NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said his country had continuously called for increased cooperation to combat global terrorism. The United Nations have the central role in that effort. In implementing the Strategy, primary importance must be placed on national counter-terrorism efforts. The murder in December 2016 of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey and the terrorist attack on a Saint Petersburg train in April had demonstrated the fact that the modern world must work together to fight terrorism. He underscored the need for targeted technical support from the United Nations and international community. He welcomed the appointment of Mr. Voronkov and reiterated his country’s commitment to fighting terrorism, which must be undertaken with unwavering adherence to international law, including respect for the sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States. A balanced approach of all four pillars of the Strategy was needed, as were broad, systematic efforts to eliminate the conditions that led to terrorism. The most important focus now was on combating foreign terrorists and the funds that supported them.
Ms. RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua) noted that her Government and its people had been victims of State terrorism. Terrorism must never be linked to any nationality or religion, and those qualifications must not be used to fight terrorism. Nicaragua remained committed to the full implementation of the four pillars of the Strategy, which she said must be implemented by national Governments appropriately. Nicaragua had developed a set of policies to fight scourges like crime, as well as arms and human trafficking. She attributed her Government’s successes in fighting crime and violence to its decision to work directly with communities.
AMMAR ALARSAN (Syria) said the appointment of Mr. Voronkov to head the Counter‑Terrorism Office was an important step in implementing the Strategy. Its independence required that it be free from political pressures and financial polarizations by States that sought to contravene its goals. Syria had reservations on operative paragraph 3 of Assembly resolution 71/291 and called for reconsidering that paragraph during the review of that text, as it had created an unwarranted dangerous situation in giving Saudi Arabia privileges. He underscored the importance of transparency outlined in Security Council resolutions on combating terrorism which required that counter-terrorism task forces and other bodies be reviewed.
He placed responsibility for the international failure to fight terrorism in Syria on States’ non-adherence to the Global Strategy and their violation of relevant Council resolutions, as well as on States’ hesitation to hold terrorism‑sponsoring Governments accountable. He cited religious centres funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in that regard, on the pretext of spreading religious directives, while really promoting radical Wahhabi ideology. Syria had provided the Security Council proof of the outflow of foreign terrorist fighters from neighbouring States, notably through Turkey. Yet, it had taken the international community three years to recognize the danger of that situation. Some in the United Nations addressed foreign terrorist fighters through a limited perspective relating to their return to their home countries. Governments must be held accountable for such dangerous actions, he said, and financing must be cut for terrorist groups.
SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka) called the Global Strategy a “rallying call to action”, adding that all acts of terrorism were criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation. International networks with linkages to organized crime were a critical lifeline for violent extremists and terrorist groups, and in that context, it was imperative for all Member States to pool their resources and share intelligence. Due consideration must also be given to ensuring that human rights and the rule of law were observed in global counter-terrorism. Every effort must be made to prevent refugee and asylum status from being abused for the purposes of perpetrating terror, although borders should not be closed so tightly that there was a failure to protect the poor, weak, vulnerable and marginalized.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), welcoming the Secretary-General’s proposal to restructure the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture, said it must include national, regional and international cooperation, and more effective monitoring and evaluation. Indonesia had always called for the architecture to be reinvigorated. To make progress, it was essential to understand that terrorism bore no relation to any ethnicity, religion, civilization or culture. Indonesia was taking both a hard and soft approach to such work. Its soft approach focused on countering radicalization, involving religious leaders, local governments, psychologists and sociologists, among others. Its hard approach focused on strengthening law enforcement and the promotion and protection of human rights. The new Office was a strong statement of ambition and efforts to implement the Strategy, he said, encouraging the United Nations to consider deploying a global moderation movement. “We must be innovative,” he said.
ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives), condemning all acts of terrorism and violent extremism carried out by whomever on whatever grounds, said his country had taken several steps to curb foreign terrorist fighters. In 2015, the Government had enacted an anti-terrorism act, making it a criminal offence for any citizen to fight as a terrorist on foreign soil. A prevention of money-laundering and financing act criminalized such behaviour in Maldives. Together, that legislation offered a robust framework to prevent terrorism and violent extremism. Further, the national counter-terrorism centre was the lead authority in coordinating such work, and in 2016, it had organized the first international meeting on terrorism and violent extremism. He recommended amplifying streamlined counter-radicalization efforts, adding that the new counter-terrorism structure would help the United Nations to effectively address root causes. It was critical for the new Office to take a comprehensive approach and support the balanced implementation of the Strategy across its four pillars.
MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) noted that, in recent years, the scale and scope of terrorism had expanded worldwide, moving across borders, regions and continents. “The enemies of humanity are still terrorizing communities,” he stressed, underscoring that “no country is more familiar with terrorism than my country”. In Afghanistan’s two-decades-long struggle against the scourge, thousands of its people, including those serving in the national and security forces, had lost their lives. Afghan forces continued to fight a nexus of international and regional terrorist groups, confronting the Taliban, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida. Those groups and others had conducted horrific atrocities on people. Earlier in the week, the Taliban attacked a hospital, a bus, and carried out another bombing, which killed hundreds of people.
“Terror and bloodshed is a frequent occurrence in Afghanistan,” he explained, adding that the Afghan people and security forces would never allow terrorists to disrupt their long struggle for stability and peace. Beyond the battlefield, Afghanistan had been collaborating with its neighbours to combat terrorism and extremism in the region and beyond, and had recently taken new measures to meet the provisions of various international treaties, conventions and Security Council resolutions. It had also amended its criminal code to unify all its legislative bodies and implemented measures to combat money-laundering. The Office must operate with a clear and strong mandate, he added.
Mr. CLAY (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, said his delegation had long advocated that the United Nations system deliver a more coordinated, strategic and impactful response to modern terrorist threats. The establishment of the Office was a good step in that direction. “The hard work starts today,” he said, stressing that preventing violent extremism must lie at the heart of the work of the Office. A balanced approach to counter terrorism by the United Nations was impossible without “proper appreciation of prevention”. The United Nations was well-suited to meet the challenges posed by violent extremism. “This doesn’t mean every UN intervention around the world can or should be about prevention,” he continued, adding, however, that most were legitimately relevant to prevention. At a minimum, it was important to avoid unintentionally causing harm — a very real risk if prevention expertise was entirely absent from United Nations programming.
BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) said that implementing reforms of the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture would result in more definitive coordination in the fight against terrorism. It was imperative for countries to take effective measures both to counteract the destructive activities of returned militants, and work for their de-radicalization and gradual integration into civilian life. That included women, as well. The Office must give special attention to preventing the wide-spread use of the Internet by terrorist groups to recruit and spread their ideology. Such a proliferation on the Internet was largely due to the lack of unified approaches to control the realm. He underscored the role of regional organizations in securing and stabilizing Central Asia. Equally vital was to shut down the channels of financial support for terrorist activities through the illegal trade in drugs, natural resources and cultural heritage sites.
AHMED ABDELRAHMAN AHMED ALMAHMOUD (United Arab Emirates) welcomed the appointment of Mr. Voronkov to head the new Office, which he encouraged to enhance cooperation between States and the United Nations, and to preventing extremism and terrorism, in turn, by preventing crises. He advocated the sharing of best practices, expressing his country’s intention to cooperate with others against ISIL. The United Arab Emirates had donated $50 million to rebuild Mosul, and $350 million to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre. It also had cooperated with the United States in establishing the Sawab Centre to raise awareness and to fight terrorist networks. Noting that 60 per cent of Arab societies were composed of young people under age 25, he said it was important to protect youth and that the United Arab Emirates had appointed a 22-year-old minister to involve young people in decision-making. Some 55 Arab countries, along with the United States, had participated in the Riyadh counter-terrorism summit in May.
SESSELJA SIGURDARDÓTTIR (Iceland) said that, despite reports of terrorist outrages continuing to devastate communities around the world, some encouragement could be drawn from the progress achieved in realigning United Nations efforts to fight terrorism. Balanced and effective implementation of all four pillars of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was fundamental. The agenda for preventing violent extremism by focusing on the values of tolerance and pluralism would provide the necessary ingredients for building peaceful and inclusive societies, she said. It was vital that the United Nations demonstrate unity of purpose in tackling terrorism and violent extremism, she emphasized, while expressing her delegation’s support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to ground his counter‑terrorism proposals in the broader context of his wider reforms relating to peace, security and development.
ZHANG DIANBIN (China) welcomed the appointment of Mr. Voronkov and stressed that terrorism must not be identified with any ethnicity, religion or culture. The United Nations should help countries build anti-terrorism capacity in order to implement the Strategy in a balanced manner. China looked forward to seeing the new Office get off to a good start, and he encouraged it to adhere to the United Nations Charter for exercising the Organization’s stewardship and forging efficient synergies. Tracking terrorists using the Internet should be a focus, he said, noting that the Office’s support for States would be indispensable. China looked forward to the United Nations building a broad support base through communications.
GÜVEN BEGEÇ (Turkey) welcomed the appointment of Mr. Voronkov. Assistance to States for the balanced implementation of the Strategy should be its main task. Other efforts should focus on countering radicalization, building State capacity, and combating intolerance and xenophobia. The new Office should pursue close dialogue with States, and cooperate with the Department of Political Affairs. The streamlining of counter-terrorist acts with the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate was also essential. Turkey had experienced terrorism from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Da’esh and others. He advocated bilateral, regional and international cooperation to stop the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, noting that Turkey had established a no-entry list which included 53,000 names, as well as risk analysis units to detect such fighters. He cautioned against substituting one terrorist group for another, as a selective approach was counterproductive. Also, the process leading to terrorism might have different triggers, he said, citing a lack of the rule of law, human rights violations and ethnic or religious discrimination in that context. Terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality or ethnic group.
ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), expressed commitment to the new Under‑Secretary-General and the Office to combat terrorism, adding that Saudi Arabia would contribute funds to the Office and focus particularly on building its capacity. Combating terrorism was an international responsibility, requiring coordination between States and various organizations. He warned against linking terrorism to a culture, religion or nationality and condemned terrorist acts in the strongest terms, “no matter who carries them out or who the victims are”. Terrorist activities could never be justified and combating them could not be achieved through military means alone. Fighting extremist ideology must remain a priority, he continued, outlining several ways his country was doing so, including through the creation of centres for rehabilitating ex-terrorists and by addressing the root causes of terrorism.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said terrorism was a threat not only to international peace and security, but also the socioeconomic development of nations. His country had been a victim of international terrorism in 1992 and 1994, and for those reasons was one of the first nations to call for the establishment of a coordinated and streamlined global response to fight the scourge. Underscoring that the fight against terrorism required a multilateral approach, he said: “We cannot tackle terrorism with the implementation of security policy alone.” In the fight against terrorism, it was critical to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Terrorism had acquired new facets in recent years, he pointed out, commending the Secretary-General’s establishment of the new Office and calling it a step in the right direction to coordinate and mobilize the resources to fight violent extremism.
ARTHUR AMAYA ANDAMBI (Kenya) expressed hope for equitable geographic representation within the ranks of the Office of Counter-Terrorism as its structure evolved, drawing particularly from the expertise of countries on the front lines of the war against terrorism, including those in Africa. The war against terrorism would take place at the subregional level once neighbouring States put uniform measures in place to counter the violent extremism that led to terrorism. Recalling that Kenya had launched its national strategy to counter violent extremism in September 2016, he said the country had learned several lessons since then, including: the need to prevent conflicts and to resolve existing ones expeditiously; investing in de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration as the key to winning the war of ideas with violent extremist groups; and the need for Governments to formulate inclusive policies to address the various socioeconomic and political drivers fuelling the narratives of violent extremists.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) hoped the United Nations counter-terrorism structure would improve in ways that bolstered coordination across the system, as well as promote the Organization’s capacity to address the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism. Iran expected the Office’s new Head to bring more professionalism, efficiency, impartiality, transparency and predictability to such work. Iran supported implementation of the Strategy in an integrated and balanced manner, stressing that it was vital to address all drivers of violent extremism. Success hinged on tackling the destructive ideologies that manipulated people to incite them to terrorism. Defeating violent extremism was unthinkable without countering the takfiri ideology used by groups from Al-Qaida to ISIL/Da’esh in crafting distorted narratives by misrepresenting Islam.
He said that ideology could not be eliminated solely through military or political means, stressing that efforts must entail major cultural and ideological components. Moreover, double standards and categorizing “good” and “bad” terrorists based on short-term interests would only undermine international trust and cooperation. Iran had been the target of State-sponsored terrorism, with 17,000 Iranians killed in recent decades, he said, citing the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran — known as the MKO — in that context. He expressed regret that some States, in short-sighted political agendas, had delisted or harboured members of such dangerous groups, and even offered them support. He condemned the use of force to suppress people struggling against foreign occupation and in exercise of their right to self-determination, especially in Palestine.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) reaffirmed her country’s condemnation of terrorism no matter by whom or for what purpose, emphasizing its commitment to implement all measures to address factors that caused terrorism to spread. Qatar respected its Security Council commitments and was committed to cooperating with the Council’s committees and expert groups to implement the Strategy. Pointing to several projects to prevent violent extremism, she said Qatar had concluded various bilateral agreements, notably with the United States, to combat terrorist funding. It had updated legislation to address emerging threats and was a partner in international efforts to combat terrorism militarily, legally and financially. It would enhance efforts to build technical capacity to prevent violent extremism from leading to terrorism. She cited a 2006 meeting organized by Qatar on preventing extremist violence among youth, and other projects that sought to reinforce tolerance in support of peace.
TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines) said the roots of terrorism could not be traced seriously to any cause — inequality, religious or ethnic differences — but only to the fallen nature of man, which could corrupt any idea. “There can be no political accommodation with terrorism,” he said, cautioning against buying safety by yielding to its demands. He disagreed that one man’s terrorist was another man’s patriot. Today’s terrorists had no country, no cause other than delight in inflicting death. Terrorism was an evil that must be fought through a global effort on every front by every society. In May, terrorists affiliated with ISIL/Da’esh and backed by foreign fighters proclaimed control of Marawi, in Mindanao in the Philippines. “We did not see it coming,” he said, because the Philippines was a diverse democracy. The presence of foreign terrorist fighters spoke to the transnational nature of the takeover. Such operations did not recognize borders and their reach had expanded. To end them, Governments must work together. International cooperation must cover the entire counter-terrorism spectrum, from border control and countering terrorist narratives, to finally, fighting.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) called for collective efforts to project a united front in implementing all four pillars of the Strategy. In Bangladesh, counter-terrorism efforts were guided by the United Nations and focused on addressing the unique challenges on the ground. The Government maintained its unequivocal status that “a terrorist is a terrorist” and was making sustained efforts to uncover where terrorists were operating. Noting capacity-building programmes to address national challenges, he said that cost-effective screenings and detections were critical. He underscored his Government’s partnership with the United Nations to explore various counter-terrorism methods including asset-freezing. Bangladesh remained concerned about the fast-evolving and extensive use by terrorists of the Internet to promote their ideology. Terrorists continued to tap into the Arab world’s challenges, as well as Islamophobia, he said, noting that his Government was partnering with academia and civil society to spread alternative narratives. Emphasis was also being placed on building community resilience through policing and the empowerment of women. He hoped to see progress on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and said that seamless flow of information among Governments was critical.
Mr. AHMED (Pakistan) said that while the international community had invested billions of dollars over the past decade to fight terrorism, it had not been able to eliminate its root causes. In order to comprehensively combat terrorism, the scourge could not be separated from its political context. In that regard, the Strategy remained the main document to best meet the technical requirements of States. Meanwhile, non-interference in the internal affairs of States remained “sacrosanct”. Pakistan had lost more than 60,000 lives to terrorism. Such a costly history had only strengthened the country’s resolve to fight the scourge. He looked forward to working closely with the United Nations, the Office and Member States towards that end.
Mr. BAZADOUGH (Jordan) said Member States must cooperate to fully implement the Strategy. Challenges towards doing so included how to deal with land that had been liberated from terrorist groups. Member States must work together to combat terrorism by preventing terrorists from using social media. The new Office was tasked with ensuring a safe future for the international community and had a responsibility to also address the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism. His delegation was working with Norway to set up a group that would work with the Office to raise awareness about conditions that fuelled extremism, as well as reiterate the need for young people to participate in the fight against it.
Mr. BOUTAQA (Morocco) said the fifth review of the Strategy in 2016 had seen changes to the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture, having identified “anomalies” and duplications in the Organization’s work. The aim was to improve synergies. The Secretary-General’s measures had given new impulse to the Strategy and responded to States’ expectations. Expressing support for the new Office, he welcomed the appointment of Mr. Voronkov to a “difficult mission”, underlining that terrorism should not be connected to any religion civilization ethnic or other group. Morocco had signed most of the counter-terrorism instruments and had mobilized its law enforcement bodies in such work. It aimed to train young preachers in tolerance, moderation, peaceful coexistence and mutual respect, as taught by Islam, and had launched de-radicalization and demobilization programmes for former terrorists. Going forward, Morocco would work with the new Office on bilateral and trilateral levels, and he encouraged it to coordinate United Nations counter-terrorism activities.
Right of Reply
The representative of Israel, to remarks by his counterpart from Iran, said that regime armed terrorist groups and bolstered the murderous Government led by Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Iran violated Security Council resolutions and continued to develop its ballistic missile programme, having gone as far as to launch one flaunting a Star of David, which was a direct threat. Given that reality, Iran’s accusations against Israel could only be seen as attempts to divert the discussion.
The representative of Iran, in response, said countering terrorism could not be separate from countering the practices of the Israeli regime. In the fifth review of the Strategy, delegates reaffirmed their determination to end foreign occupation. With a long record of terrorism, the Israeli regime was the best example of a State terrorism sponsor. It had been stubborn in following its illegitimate policies of occupation and terror, having conducted terrorism in Iran through the brutal assassination of Iranian scientists. Further, Israeli agents offered support to Al-Nusra in Syria. The gravest form of terrorism was under way in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In the absence of an international unified response to end such occupation, Israel continued to commit crimes against humanity and war crimes against Palestinians.