16 February 2007


16 February 2007
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Fight against terrorism ‘our common mission’, says Secretary-General


As he briefs General Assembly on UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s statement to the General Assembly on the follow-up to the adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in New York, 16 February:

Terrorism hurts all nations -- large and small, rich and poor.  It takes its toll on human beings of every age and income, culture and religion.  It strikes against everything the United Nations stands for.  The fight against terrorism is our common mission.

The march of technology continues to outpace our efforts to stop it from strengthening the terrorists’ arsenal of destruction.  And so the threat of terrorism continues to grow.  The challenge before us is clear:  we must take collective and concerted action to prevent terrorism from posing an existential threat to humankind.

Last September, the General Assembly took a historic step forward by adopting the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Never before have 192 countries agreed on an analysis of the threat of terrorism.  Never before have they come together to formulate a comprehensive collective response.  By adopting the Strategy, the General Assembly reaffirmed its position as the primary deliberative body of the United Nations.

For the first time, Member States resolved to take concrete actions to combat terrorism in a coordinated manner, at the national, regional and international levels.  For the first time, they agreed that conditions exist that can be conducive to the spread of terrorism.  They agreed that to defeat terrorism, we must take on those conditions.  And they agreed to take political, operational, and legal measures to prevent and combat terrorism in all its forms, while strengthening the individual and collective capacity of States and the United Nations to do so.  Finally, of fundamental importance, they agreed that protecting human rights and the rule of law is central to the fight against terrorism.

In the course of a few short months, the UN system has mobilized around the Strategy with vigour.  Much of the work for implementation has been shouldered by the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, whose institutionalization was welcomed by Member States last September.  The CTITF brings together 24 UN entities across the UN system, working together under mandates from the General Assembly, the Security Council, and various Specialized Agencies, Funds and Programmes.

Already, the Task Force has developed a programme of work, and established working groups to carry forward a first set of initiatives to implement the strategy.  These cover a broad range of aspects of the strategy.  They include:

-- Assisting Member States in implementing the strategy in an integrated manner;

-- Factoring counter-terrorism prevention into conflict prevention, through the use of my envoys and special representatives;

-- Providing a forum for addressing political and economic exclusion, in particular among youth;

-- Enhancing technical assistance assessment, delivery, and follow-up;

-- Improving UN coordination in planning the response to a terrorist attack that uses nuclear, chemical, biological or radiological materials;

-- Bringing together stakeholders and partners to discuss the abuse of the internet for terrorist purposes and identify innovative means to counter it;

-- Finding ways to meet international standards for countering financing of terrorism;

-- Establishing best practices on protecting vulnerable targets -- including UN field staff -- and creating a mechanism to share experience in this regard;

-- Assisting countries in strengthening domestic legislation to protect human rights in order to comply with international standards; and

-- Bringing together victims from around the world to identify their needs and possible Government responses.

Today, you will hear about various aspects of the strategy from the chairs of four of the Task Force working groups.

Already, I can say that over the past few months, we have witnessed how UN entities can accomplish far more by working together than any one of them could on its own.  But let me be clear:  whatever we do can succeed only if you, the Member States, take full ownership of the strategy and its implementation -- within your countries as well as regionally and globally.

We stand ready to work with you.  To support our joint efforts, the Task Force has created a Counter-Terrorism Online Handbook.  Its purpose is to give Member States, regional organizations and United Nations country teams a single, easily accessible tool for information on Task Force activities and resources.

Just as the strategy itself is a living document, the Handbook will be updated and expanded on an ongoing basis.  Today, I am proud to unveil the first version.  I urge you to take full advantage of this tool, and of the numerous resources the United Nations system has to offer in our effort to fight terrorism.

Together, we must demonstrate that we are up to the task.  Whether we like it or not, our generation will go down in history as one that was challenged to protect the world from terrorism.

We are challenged to do so by victims and survivors in New York, Bali, Nairobi, Riyadh, Bombay, Casablanca, Istanbul, Dar Es Salaam, Beslan, London and Madrid -- where the trial of the 2004 bombings opened just yesterday, reminding us that the wounds of such an attack never fully heal.

We are challenged to do so by the people of communities and countries whose economies and well-being are damaged by the impact of terrorism.

We are challenged to do so by those who could become the vulnerable targets of the next attack.

We cannot fail any of them.  Let us unite in this mission.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.