|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Chief, Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate
“One of the things we’ve noted as we travel around the world is the importance of regional cooperation to deal with terrorism,” said Mike Smith, Executive Director, Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, because “most terrorists operate across borders”.
Mr. Smith was speaking at a Headquarters press conference of a three-day workshop, conducted by the United Nations in Dhaka, Bangladesh earlier this week, to build counter-terrorism cooperation between countries in South Asia, an area with a long history of terrorist activities. The recent bombing in Peshawar, terrorist attacks on the office of the World Food Programme in Pakistan, in Kabul, in Mumbai last year, and the years during which Sri Lanka had to deal with attacks from the Tamil Tigers were all reminders of that fact, he said.
The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), a body of the Security Council which works with the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee, monitors how countries fulfil their obligations under Council resolution 1373 (2001) and helps find technical assistance for those that need it, he explained. An extremely broad resolution, 1373 requires countries to criminalize terrorism, deny terrorists safe haven and financial resources, prevent them from crossing their borders, cooperate with other countries and bring terrorists to justice.
Although the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation had been the first such organization to have adopted a regional convention on counter‑terrorism -- in 1987 -- he said that political constraints had prevented the development of the sort of cooperation that had been envisaged. The recent workshop in Bangladesh had been a modest effort to start building “habits” of cooperation among the region’s countries on a working, rather than a political, level. Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and the Maldives had been invited to send two representatives of their police and prosecutors, with the aim of comparing notes on how they performed their counter-terrorism work and in what ways communication among them could be helpful.
The meeting had been hosted by the Government of Bangladesh and paid for by the Australian and Danish Governments, he said. Two working groups, one for police and one for prosecutors, had facilitators from United Nations partner organizations. Among other things, the latest working techniques were discussed. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was also represented in both working groups, making clear how counter-terrorism could be advanced by conducting operations with full respect for the rule of law. All participants, as well as the organizers, believed the event had provided a real opportunity to build links and wanted to do it again soon. Mr. Smith called the event a small, but significant, first step at building cooperation at the working level.
In closing, he added that a counter-terrorism workshop for parliamentarians had been held in Pakistan last week. For some years, the current and previous Pakistani Governments had been trying to pass legislation against money-laundering and financing terrorism, but had met with scepticism from Parliament. During the workshop, outside experts had explained to relevant parliamentarians why those measures were important. Representatives from other countries, including Turkey, had also explained why their countries had enacted such measures.
In response to questions, he said that his was not a sanctions mandate, but rather one that looked at the infrastructure for counter-terrorism.
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