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Helping Member States to counter terrorism
Combating terrorism is integral to the entire mandate of the United Nations. The UN Charter sets out the purposes of the Organization, which include the maintenance of international peace and security, to take collective measures to prevent threats to peace and suppress aggression and to promote human rights and economic development.
As an assault on the principles of law and order, human rights and the peaceful settlement of disputes, terrorism runs counter to the principles and purposes that define the United Nations. The United Nations has been taking concrete steps to address the threat of terrorism, helping Member States to counter this scourge. The recently adopted Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy further develops and strengthens those steps and brings them into a focused concrete plan of action.
Addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism
There is wide agreement among countries that the fight against terrorism must include an approach that also looks at its long-term components. This agreement is reflected in the global counter-terrorism strategy which addresses the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism. Its near universal membership and its global mandate make the United Nations a tool for Member States through which to address the complex, longer term aspects of terrorism. The United Nations places its counter-terrorism actions within its broader work framed by its overall efforts to promote peace, security, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law. The multitude of offices, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system works to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism including but not limited to prolonged unresolved conflicts, dehumanization of victims of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, lack of the rule of law and violations of human rights, ethnic, national and religious discrimination, political exclusion, socio-economic marginalization and lack of good governance.
Preventing terrorist acts
Through action taken by the General Assembly and the Security Council, Member States are not only creating and strengthening the legal foundations of the fight against terrorism but also taking practical measures of cooperation to restrict terrorists in their actions by denying them the financial means for their actions, denying them their freedom to move about to commit their acts and denying them the weapons to use in committing terrorist acts. The International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism requests all countries ratifying the convention to deny all financial possibilities to potential terrorists. Security Council resolution 1373 makes it mandatory for all states to eliminate the financing of terrorism, while resolution 1267 along with subsequent related resolutions freeze all the financial assets of Al-Qaida and Taliban associates. Both those resolutions call for strict travel bans against potential terrorists. Subsequent Security Council resolutions also place Al-Qaida and Taliban members under a strict arms embargo. The recently concluded International Convention for the Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism aims to prevent potential terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons while resolution 1540 of the Security Council creates a mandatory set of measures for countries to implement in order to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
Developing state capacity to counter terrorism
While the major international conventions and Security Council resolutions create obligations for states, UN offices and agencies provide assistance for states to be better able to fulfill those obligations individually as well as collectively. This work aims at providing practical help to build state capacity to prevent terrorism. The Security Council's counter-terrorism bodies along with the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime have been assisting countries in drafting appropriate national counter-terrorism legislation. The United Nations Development Programme assists Member States through its network of over 166 country offices with practical advice on strengthening the rule of law and promoting good governance.
Defending human rights
The actions of the United Nations, whether they aim at denying terrorists the means to carry out an attack, deter states in assisting terrorists, or developing the capacities of states to combat terrorism, never are at the expense of human rights. In fact the United Nations has placed the protection of human rights - of the victims of terrorism - at the centre of its counter-terrorism work. Defending the human rights of all while countering terrorism is at the heart of the global counter-terrorism strategy . Member States of the Organization have given practical evidence of their commitment to defending human rights in the context of combating terrorism by establishing the post of a special human rights investigator whose job is precisely to ensure that human rights are not curtailed as countries take steps to counter terrorism.