9 December 2008

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Security Council meeting on “Global Security and International Terrorism”, in New York today, 9 December:

I thank the Government/Permanent Representative of Croatia for convening this timely meeting, and I welcome H.E. President [Stjepan] Mesić, who is chairing this meeting in person.

Terrorism is a global scourge.  The carnage it inflicts is appalling and morally reprehensible.  It seeks to foment distrust between States and peoples.  It tries to tear societies apart, undermine institutions and weaken the bonds that tie communities together.   The awful attacks in Mumbai two weeks ago are only the most recent example of mad, misguided individuals run amok. 

Terrorism is a leading threat to international peace and security.  Combating it must be one of the international community’s main priorities.  Those armed with planes and guns today could well arrive with more potent force tomorrow.  And so those who believe that terror is a legitimate means by which they can achieve their goals must be shown that they will fail.

The best response to a corrosive, malevolent ideology is a strong assertion of collective resistance.  We need to defend the human rights that terrorism so brutally violates.  We need to defend the values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the sixtieth anniversary of which we commemorate tomorrow.

The United Nations has a responsibility to lead the international community’s efforts to confront this menace, which no cause or grievance can justify.  As a universal organization, with independent and impartial standing, the United Nations is uniquely well placed to play this role.

And indeed, the Security Council and General Assembly have strongly condemned terrorism time and again.  They have sought to promote the universal norm that terrorism is never acceptable, adopted important legal instruments and law enforcement measures, and addressed the economic and social dimensions of terrorism.  The Assembly’s adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2006 was a landmark that demonstrated the unanimous and unequivocal commitment of the international community.

United Nations mechanisms such as the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and subsidiary bodies of the Security Council are also important parts of the picture.  United Nations agencies such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization are providing advice and technical assistance.  In some countries, the United Nations might be the only acceptable donor for political reasons.  In others, the United Nations may add value simply by giving legitimacy to bilateral or regional programmes because the United Nations has determined that they meet international norms and standards.

We are also employing the convening power of the United Nations in this struggle.  At last month’s high-level “Culture of Peace” gathering, leaders and senior officials from more than 70 Member States representing diverse faiths and communities rejected the use of religion to justify the killing of innocent people and acts of terrorism, violence and coercion.

And in September, I convened a symposium here at Headquarters that placed a much needed spotlight on the plight of victims.   The awful paradox is that the voices of terrorists often garner more attention than those of the people who bear the brunt of their cruelty.  This is only the beginning of our efforts to correct this imbalance, give a human face to the victims of terrorism, and thereby build a culture that rejects terrorism.

In closing, let me remind you that we meet just two days shy of the first anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations offices in Algeria.  That horrendous attack took the lives of 17 of our colleagues and injured some 40 more.  It was all too reminiscent of the attack on the United Nations compound in Baghdad more than five years ago.  And just a few weeks ago, a suicide bomber attacked the United Nations compound in Hargeisa, Somalia, killing two staffers.

It is more apparent than ever that the United Nations, too, has become a deliberate target.  Yet these tragedies have deterred neither our will nor our ability to serve the international community.  The United Nations will continue its vital work wherever and whenever needed.

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For information media • not an official record