United Nations General Assembly Adopts Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was adopted by Member States on 8 September 2006. The strategy, in the form of a resolution and an annexed Plan of Action (A/RES/60/288), is a unique global instrument that will enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. This is the first time that all Member States have agreed to a common strategic approach to fight terrorism, not only sending a clear message that terrorism is unacceptable in all its forms and manifestation but also resolving to take practical steps individually and collectively to prevent and combat it. Those practical steps include a wide array of measures ranging from strengthening state capacity to counter terrorist threats to better coordinating United Nations system’s counter-terrorism activities. The adoption of the strategy fulfils the commitment made by world leaders at the 2005 September Summit and builds on many of the elements proposed by the Secretary-General in his 2 May 2006 report, entitled Uniting against Terrorism: Recommendations for a Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Resolutions: The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy 2014 – 2012- - 2010 - 2008 (link Resolutions)

Plan of Action 2014 – 2012- - 2010 - 2008 http://www.un.org/en/terrorism/strategy-counter-terrorism.shtml#poa4

The General Assembly reviews the Strategy every two years, making it a living document attuned to Member States’ counter-terrorism priorities. The fourth review of the Strategy took place in June 2014 (A/RES/68/276) and was preceded by a report from the United Nations Secretary-General (A/68/841) that included an overview of the evolving terrorism landscape, recommendations to address challenges and threats, and a compilation of measures taken by Member States and United Nations entities to fight against terrorism.

While the primary responsibility for the implementation of the Global Strategy rests with Member States, CTITF ensures that the UN system is attuned to the needs of Member States, to provide them with the necessary policy support and spread in-depth knowledge of the Strategy, and wherever necessary, expedite delivery of technical assistance.

Pillar I: Measures to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism

Pillar I of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy commits Member States to implementing measures to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, such as preventing and resolving conflicts, encouraging economic development, reducing social exclusion and marginalization and fostering understanding among peoples of varied religions and cultures through dialogue. These measures serve as effective tools for countering the appeal of terrorism by reducing the chances of radicalization and violent extremism of vulnerable groups. Pillar I also emphasizes the need to support victims of terrorism and their families and support and engage with civil society groups, particularly women and youth. The United Nations system continues to assist Member States in implementing pillar I of the Strategy.

  1. Countering the appeal of terrorism
    The Task Force Office, in partnership with the Government of Switzerland, organized a high-level international counter-terrorism focal points’ conference on addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism in Geneva in June 2013, bringing together relevant experts and officials from more than 100 Member States and regional and international organizations, as well as from the United Nations system. It yielded high-level political support for measures to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, including encouraging greater socioeconomic development, resolving and preventing conflicts, developing counter-radicalization programmes and narratives, and supporting victims of terrorism and their families.
  2. Preventing and resolving conflicts
    The Strategy calls for greater support for and making the best use of the capacities of the United Nations in such areas as conflict prevention, mediation, the rule of law, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. United Nations envoys and mediators, supported by the Department of Political Affairs, have been assisting in resolving conflict, strengthening fragile democratic transitions and transforming confrontation into dialogue. The Department has also made huge efforts to prevent election-related violence. When political tensions arise in countries where the United Nations has neither an envoy nor a mission, the Department supports the efforts of United Nations resident coordinators and country teams to facilitate a response and assist national actors in addressing emerging challenges. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations, through its field missions, also contributes extensively to long-term stabilization after conflict.
  3. Fostering dialogue and understanding
    Building understanding among peoples of diverse religions and cultures requires sustained dialogue aimed at dispelling misunderstanding and misconceptions that can otherwise lead to ignorance and hate. Under the Working Group of the Task Force on Dialogue, Understanding and Countering the Appeal of Terrorism, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, in partnership with the Task Force Office, is implementing a project in 2014 to provide skills training on dialogue and understanding for a selected group of online media professionals from the Somalia diaspora community.
  4. Promoting economic and social development
    Since its founding, the United Nations system has prioritized the sustainable economic and social development of Member States. Although not deemed to be core counter-terrorism work, activities that assist with equitable economic development and social progress have a direct impact on peace and security. The United Nations system has continued its support in this area through its agencies, funds and programmes, and particularly through its United Nations country teams in the field. The Secretary-General would like to highlight the support of the United Nations system towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The post-2015 sustainable development framework that Member States will develop is certain to have a lasting impact in addressing one of the key conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.

Pillar II: Measures to prevent and combat terrorism

The United Nations continues to support Member States in their efforts to prevent and combat terrorism. The capacity-building initiatives, coordination efforts and knowledge-building undertakings that United Nations entities have conducted since the issuance of the Secretary-General’s previous report are too numerous to fully describe in the present report. The activities listed below provide a snapshot of United Nations efforts.

  1. Activities on law enforcement and border control
  2. Activities on preventing and responding to attacks by means of weapons of mass destruction
  3. Activities on combating the financing of terrorism
  4. Activities on protecting vulnerable targets, critical infrastructure and the Internet
  5. Other activities

Pillar III: measures to build States’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in this regard

As the ability to thwart the terrorist threat is critical, pillar III of the Strategy makes capacity-building a core element of the global counter-terrorism efforts. International and regional organizations, as well as bilateral partners, are called to assist countries or regions in addressing interrelated security challenges while harmonizing their activities. Coordination and coherence are essential to streamline and enhance the delivery of capacity-building assistance. In line with its core mandate, the Task Force Office, in cooperation with Task Force entities, has developed several tools to strengthen coordination and coherence. Chief among those tools are the Integrated Assistance for Countering Terrorism Initiative and the Task Force’s matrix of projects.

The Integrated Assistance for Countering Terrorism Initiative responds to the capacity-building needs of requesting countries in an integrated manner across all four pillars of the Strategy through the provision of assistance by entities throughout the United Nations system. The matrix of Task Force counter-terrorism projects is a comprehensive database with basic information on all United Nations counter-terrorism activities and projects around the world. This practical working tool is aimed at avoiding overlaps and duplication, promoting transparency, ensuring a more rational allocation of resources to counter terrorism and, therefore, enabling a more efficient provision of capacity-building assistance across the four pillars of the Strategy.

  1. Facilitating the integrated implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy
  2. Enhancing the implementation of legal and international instruments, providing legal assistance and enhancing the capacity of criminal justice officials and law enforcement officers

Pillar IV: Measures to ensure the protection of human rights and the rule of law while combating terrorism

Pillar IV of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy clearly expresses the resolve of Member States to respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in all their counter-terrorism efforts. Pillar IV also seeks to promote and protect the rights of victims of terrorism.

  1. Training and capacity-building for law enforcement officials on human rights, the rule of law and the prevention of terrorism
  2. Basic human rights reference guides
  3. Other activities
  4. Support for victims of terrorism