Secretary-General's remarks to Security Council open debate on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts [as delivered]
New York, 15 January 2013
I am pleased to welcome Her Excellency Foreign Minister [Rabbani] Khar back to the United Nations. I thank Pakistan for convening this important debate.
As this is the first time this year, I would like to warmly welcome all the members of the Security Council and count on your leadership. At the same time I would like to warmly welcome new members of the Security Council – the distinguished representatives of Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, Republic of Korea and Rwanda.
In light of recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan, I want to repeat my heartfelt condolences to the victims and reiterate the United Nations’ strong support and solidarity for the Government’s efforts to combat terrorism and defend the country’s institutions and freedoms.
Meeting as the New Year opens, we are challenged to look back on what we have accomplished in countering terrorism, and ahead to how to overcome this deadly threat.
The past year saw solid progress. In June, the General Assembly recommitted to the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. By a consensus resolution, the Assembly strengthened our resolve to support victims of terrorism everywhere. And it reaffirmed our commitment to a comprehensive approach to terrorism grounded in respect for human rights and the rule of law.
No counter-terrorism policy can be effective without addressing conditions that are conducive to the spread of terrorism. This is the first pillar of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
Today I would like to highlight three aspects of this pillar.
First: the critical links between development and security. Nothing can justify terrorism – ever. No grievance, no goal, no cause can excuse terrorist acts.
At the same time, we must remove the conditions that feed the problem. Terrorism festers where conflicts are endemic … and where human rights, human dignity and human life are not protected and impunity prevails.
Second: the importance of dialogue and understanding. We have to drown out shrill appeals to intolerance and extremism with sound calls for compassion and moderation.
Third: the increasing use of information technology to spread hate. Terrorists and extremists are exploiting social media networks to radicalize people. This is yet another arena where we have to replace the terrorist narrative with messages of peace, development and human welfare.
Progress in all these areas will demand steady efforts by States – individually and collectively.
I welcome three upcoming international conferences.
In April, a new project on human rights training for counter-terrorism law enforcement officials will hold its first conference in Amman, Jordan. The CTITF Working Group on human rights while countering terrorism is organizing this event.
In two weeks, governments will gather in Bogota, Colombia, for the International Conference on National and Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategies, organized by the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre of the CTITF.
This summer, the CTITF and the Government of Switzerland will host a conference of counter-terrorism focal points aimed at addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.
Attention to the conditions that are conducive to terrorism does not in any way diminish the importance of other counter-terrorism priorities. The financing of terrorism remains a key threat, and States require capacity-building in response. The Counter-Terrorism Committee’s special meeting on the subject last November, chaired by Ambassador Puri of India, was an important step.
In our efforts to eliminate terrorism, I urge humanitarian, security and political actors to engage in an open and sustained policy dialogue to ensure that efforts to prevent acts of terrorism do not ever impede the timely and principled delivery of assistance – of a strictly humanitarian nature – to civilians.
This is all the more important as we cope with increasing humanitarian emergencies around the world. This year, we face challenges in Mali and the broader Sahel region, where terrorism feeds off of extreme destitution and undermines development through violence, intolerance and human rights abuses.
I welcome the Security Council’s resolve to tackle the challenges in that region head-on. I especially appreciate the Council’s sensitive approach to underlying factors that have led to this dire security situation.
Madame President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
There were far too many victims of terrorism over the past year, but none was more compelling in her struggle than Malala Yousufzai, the young Pakistani teen who was shot, along with her schoolmates, by extremists.
The Government and people of Pakistan were joined by others around the world in rallying behind Malala and offering their best wishes for her recovery. I was deeply moved by her brave efforts to champion the fundamental right to education, a value enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as in the teachings of Islam. I am proud to count myself among her supporters and well wishers.
Malala and her schoolmates have shown tremendous courage. Their grace and integrity challenge the world to respond to the terrorist threat with the comprehensive and broad-based approach that is essential to success.
I count on all members of this Council – and all members of the international community – to unite in advancing this important work.
Statements on 15 January 2013