While countering terrorism has been on the agenda of the United Nations System for decades, the attacks against the United States on 11 September 2001 prompted the Security Council to adopt resolution 1373, which for the first time established the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC).

Five years later, all Member States of the General Assembly for the first time agreed on a common strategic framework to fight the scourge of terrorism: the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The Strategy is a unique instrument to enhance the efforts of the international community to counter terrorism along four pillars:

  1. Addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism;
  2. Preventing and combatting terrorism;
  3. Building Member States’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in this regard;
  4. Ensuring the respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis for countering terrorism.

At the time of the adoption of the Strategy, the General Assembly also endorsed the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), which had been established by the Secretary-General in 2005 in the Department of Political Affairs. Consisting of 38 entities of the UN and affiliated organizations, CTITF works to promote coordination and coherence within the UN System on counter-terrorism and to provide assistance to Member States.

Established in 2011, the UN Counter Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) provides capacity-building assistance to Member States and carries out counter-terrorism projects around the world in line with the four pillars of the Global Strategy.

As suggested by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his report (A/71/858) on the Capability of the United Nations to Assist Member States in implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre were moved out of the Department of Political Affairs into a new Office of Counter-Terrorism headed by an Under-Secretary–General.

The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism was established through the adoption of General Assembly resolution 71/291 on 15 June 2017. Mr. Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov was appointed as Under-Secretary-General of the Office on 21 June 2017.

The office will aim to have a close relationship with Security Council bodies and Member States, strengthening existing and developing new partnerships.

The Security Council works to enhance the capacity of Member States to prevent and respond to terrorist acts through its subsidiary bodies, which include the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, as well as the 1540 Committee on the non-proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. The Committees are supported in their work by different entities; whereas the Counter-Terrorism Committee has its Executive Directorate (CTED) to carry out its policy decisions and conduct expert assessments of Member States, the 1267 Committee draws on a Monitoring Team.