The fight against terrorism began in the building of peaceful and inclusive societies and effective and accountable institutions, as well as an international comprehensive convention, the Sixth Committee (Legal) heard today.
As speakers urged flexibility in negotiations for an urgent conclusion to the draft comprehensive convention, delegations spoke of the need to address the conditions that enabled terrorism, and shared their national experiences and strategies aimed at that goal.
The United Arab Emirates, said its representative, had helped establish and host a number of international institutions, such as the Hedayah Center, to combat intellectual extremism and exchange best practices in countering extremism. Recently, it had launched, in cooperation with the United States, the Sawab Center in order to counter, through social media, narratives promoted by Da’esh and other groups.
Describing another approach, the delegate of Morocco said his Government had restructured the religious sector by setting up a scientific body to interpret texts of the Koran and the Hadith. It was also training young preachers on the Islamic principles of dialogue, tolerance and respect for others.
Kenya’s representative pointed out that all major counter-terrorism efforts had focused on the effects of terrorism. However, a focus on root causes, such as State failure, was also critical; such circumstances created ideal conditions for terrorism to thrive. In order to reduce the vulnerabilities of Kenyan youth, his Government had established an interagency National Counter Terrorism Centre and a National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism.
A “whole of government” and a “whole of society” response was needed, said the representative of the United Kingdom, one that involved police, prosecutors, educators, and mental health and social services partnering with families and communities, as well as the private sector.
Underscoring the need for more robust international cooperation, Tunisia’s representative said her Government had criminalized not only terrorism, but travel to conflict zones as well. Noting that the increase in foreign terrorist fighters now numbered 30,000 from some 100 countries, she said it was critical to suppress the free movement of non-State actors and their extremist ideology, as well as to cut off their sources of financing.
A more concerted global effort was required, said Liechtenstein’s representative, as he called for the conclusion of the draft comprehensive convention. Despite its past contributions to counter-terrorism instruments, the Committee was best known, “somewhat unfairly”, for what it had not achieved — an agreed-upon draft convention. “With the credibility of the Sixth Committee on the line, we should acknowledge that we are unable to fulfil this task and let the work continue in another forum, but not before giving it one last try during the coming weeks,” he stated.
Also speaking today were representatives of Egypt, Malaysia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mongolia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Colombia, Venezuela and Gabon.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Observer State of Palestine and Israel.
The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 14 October, to continue its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism and to take up the rule of law.
ANTHONY ANDANJE (Kenya), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that without a coherent plan to fight terrorism, the collective objective would not be attained. Unfortunately, all major efforts had been focussed on the effects of terrorism rather than its causes, such as State failure, which created ideal conditions for terrorist conditions. Among measures taken by his Government were the establishment of an interagency National Counter Terrorism Centre and a National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism, which addressed factors that made Kenyan youth and society at large more vulnerable to violent extremist ideology. The Government also had taken measures to disrupt funding sources for terrorists and their networks and continued to work closely with local, regional and international partners. Noting that the United Nations must have a central role in combating international terrorism, he said he hoped that the Organization’s seventieth anniversary would provide the inspiration to conclude a convention on measures to eliminate international terrorism.
KARIM MEDREK (Morocco), noting that there was an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters from more than 90 countries, underscored the importance of strengthening border security and information exchange to combat terrorism. His country, a victim of terrorist attacks, had hosted several meetings on border security. It also had ratified and acceded to all 14 counter-terrorism instruments within the auspices of the United Nations. The counter-terrorism approach focused on prevention and action and included streamlining Government security, establishing a legal framework, adopting new laws and promoting security. Those efforts had enabled the Government to dismantle several cells and to seize arms intended for terrorist attacks. A law was also adopted to curb trips of young people to tension areas by criminalizing such ventures. In 2005, a national initiative had been launched to promote human development and to combat social issues. Other initiatives included the restructuring of the religious sector by setting up a scientific body to interpret texts of the Koran and the Hadith, as well as training young preachers on the principles of Islam that were based on dialogue, tolerance and respect for others.
MOHAMED IBRAHIM ELSHENAWY (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the African Group, said that, rather than taking a military approach alone, an unconventional approach which addressed underlying causes was needed to combat terrorism. It was important to combat the spread of extremist ideologies, which religious leaders in Egypt were undertaking. All who committed terrorist acts or assisted them should also be held accountable. He reiterated the importance of implementing relevant Security Council resolutions and in particular Libya’s call regarding resolutions 2214 (2015) and 2178 (2014). As a supporter of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy he said the Organization must assist Member States in its implementation. He looked to compromises and consensus to reach a clear definition of terrorism so as to enable a conclusion of the draft convention on the elimination of international terrorism. Thus, it was more pressing than ever to convene a high-level conference on the matter. Furthermore, anticipating the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Counter Violent Extremism, he recommended that the Secretary-General consult with countries in its preparation. It was through bilateral, regional and international cooperation that the fight against terrorism must be relentlessly pursued.
JONATHAN DOWDALL (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union Delegation, said that a comprehensive counter-terrorism and counter-violent extremism strategy required a “whole of government” approach, involving police, prosecutors, mental health and social services, and the education sector. It also required a “whole of society” approach, which included partnerships of families and communities who would expose extremists’ hateful beliefs and deny them the space in which they could operate. In addition, private sector partnerships, including with internet service providers, could reduce terrorism-inciting online material. He called on Member States to take specific domestic measures to confront violent extremism, adopting a “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach as best practice.
RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) associating himself with ASEAN, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the atrocities committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on innocent civilians in Syria and Iraq had distorted the faith and teachings of Islam and were, in fact, the antithesis of the principles of Islam. Underlying causes and contributory factors, such as funding and the supply of weapons, must be addressed. He advocated for a “Global Movement of Moderates”, promoted by ASEAN, which called on countries and societies to censure and reject extremism and support moderation. Furthermore, an international concerted effort to drown extremist narratives was an effective way to counter terrorism. However, a clear distinction must be made between acts of terrorism and legitimate acts of resistance to foreign aggression. More so, measures against international terrorism should not infringe upon the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of States. To achieve a comprehensive instrument on international terrorism, clarity was needed on what that instrument was meant to achieve. To that end he recommended taking stock of existing international instruments on the matter to see how to contribute further.
NOUR ZARROUK BOUMIZA (Tunisia), associating herself with the OIC and Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern with the atrocities that continued to be committed by terrorist groups in the eastern part of her country. The phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters had reached a most concerning magnitude and represented a considerable threat to States of origin. Terrorists had built international networks that enabled the free movement of foreign fighters and had learned to harness technology to disseminate extremist ideology. The increase in foreign terrorist fighters numbering 30,000 from some 100 countries, according to a recent report by the Executive Directorate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, was of major concern. Underscoring the need for more robust international cooperation, she said her Government was working hard to respond urgently to the terrorism threat by strengthening legislation, including a national law that not only criminalized terrorism, but travel to conflict zones as well. Other initiatives included the establishment of a legal branch for antiterrorism operations, as well as bilateral agreements with countries, in particular to evaluate the threat of terrorism and cut off its sources of financing.
CLAUDE STANISLAS BOUAH-KAMON (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, condemned attacks by Boko Haram and stressed concerns with terrorists in border countries such as Mali. His Government had ratified 16 international counter-terrorism instruments and was taking measures domestically, including, among other measures, a recent law criminalizing terrorist acts. That law provided for severe punishment to anyone instigating terrorist acts in promotion of a political, religious or ideological agenda or engaged in recruitment for terrorism, among other things. Convinced that terrorism could not be eradicated without the involvement of the international community, he stated his support for an international convention on terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations. He also called on Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support efforts combating terrorism in the Sahel countries.
SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia) said his country, a party to the majority of international counter-terrorism instruments, was considering accession to the remaining instruments. It had strengthened its counter-terrorism legislation through amendments of its anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering laws, among others. He welcomed the visits of the representatives of the Counter-Terrorism Committee to his country, as well as their recommendations on implementation of the provisions of resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005). Mongolia had established an integrated border management system that relied on cooperation and coordination between its law enforcement agencies, including the police, customs and border security. To enhance the protection of human rights, it had established a national commission and would continue to engage in constructive dialogue with United Nations human rights mechanisms.
STEFAN BARRIGA (Liechtenstein) noted the Sixth Committee’s past contributions, particularly its drafting of numerous international conventions in the field of counter-terrorism. However, it was best known, “somewhat unfairly”, for what it had not achieved — an agreement on a general convention on counter-terrorism, which would fill the gaps between existing conventions. In 2005 the Committee had been mandated in the World Summit Outcome to conclude negotiations during the sixtieth session. The Committee had failed to meet that mandate ten times since. “With the credibility of the Sixth Committee on the line, we should acknowledge that we are unable to fulfil this task and let the work continue in another forum — but not before giving it one last try during the coming weeks,” he said. That would require flexibility and political will from those delegations who had not yet expressed support for the Coordinator’s compromise proposal. Having supported that proposal from the start, he said it struck a reasonable balance between entrenched positions and ensured that the Convention would not jeopardize applicable rules of international humanitarian law.
NANG PHY SIN THAN MYINT (Myanmar), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that despite scaled up cooperation, particularly with the adoption of a global strategy to fight terrorism in 2006, the recent rise of violent extremism and violent terrorist fighters had made the threat even more formidable. Thus, a cooperative global response was needed that complied with international law. She detailed legislative measures her Government had taken, among them the enactment of a domestic law on combating terrorism in 2014, and the incorporation of preventive and control measures in the current drafting of rules for a recently enacted law on suppression of financing for terrorism. In addition, law enforcement agencies had worked with international experts to identify legal texts to be aligned with international standards. To eliminate conditions that led to terrorism, measures had been stepped up to suppress narcotic-related crimes, both nationally and regionally, and the country’s law enforcement agencies cooperated with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to fight transnational crime. The country had also joined ASEAN’s Convention on Counter Terrorism and was State party to 11 international counter-terrorism instruments.
SALEH AL SAAD (United Arab Emirates) said that his country, in its fight against terrorism, had developed legislation and acceded to relevant international conventions. It had also established a national committee for combating terrorism to follow up on the implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and other related international and regional instruments. At the international level, his country had supported efforts, including the international coalition against Da’esh and the Global Counterterrorism Forum. It had participated in establishing and hosting a number of international institutions to combat intellectual extremism such as the Hedayah Center to help build capacity and exchange best practices in countering all forms of extremism. It had also hosted the Muslim Council of Elders and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, with a view to spread a culture of tolerance and peace and promote rapprochement among religions. Recently, the United Arab Emirates had launched, in cooperation with the United States, the Sawab Center in order to counter narratives promoted by Da’esh and other groups through social media, and to allow moderate voices to reach millions of people who rejected terrorist practices and the “misleading” notions of those groups.
RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN, said his country had strengthened cooperation in information-sharing, and had participated in regional and international forums on preventing and combating terrorism. To date, it had ratified conventions and protocols of the United Nations and the ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism. It had enacted legislation, including the law on anti-terrorism, law on anti-money laundering and terrorism financing, and law on drug control. On the basis of such legislation, as well as regional and international treaties, his country had achieved remarkable success in preventing and suppressing terrorism and transnational crimes. Cambodia was in the process of setting forth and promoting the “Safe Village, Safe Commune” policy, which aimed to encourage the active participation of villagers and civil society organizations to ensure security and safety in villages and communes throughout the country.
VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that for more than a decade his country had been modernizing its law to respond to new forms of terrorist threats. At the regional level the country was committed to implementing the ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism. Internationally, Thailand was party to nine of the 18 anti-terrorism conventions and protocols and was in the process of ratifying or acceding to the remaining instruments. He noted further that Thailand would be the venue for upcoming regional workshops on effectively countering terrorism organized by the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate in October of this year. Turning to the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, he said that it should contain a precise definition of terrorism, without reference to “State terrorism” and that a finalized version of the draft was prerequisite to the convening of a high-level conference on the matter. He called upon States to make an extra effort towards finalizing that document.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ BLANCO (Colombia), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the international community had a pressing obligation to forge social and cultural environments in which violence was not worshipped. It must build educated, fair, inclusive and cohesive societies where there was no space for terrorism. His country’s success story in recent years could help in that regard, particularly in relation to the processes of reintegration and reconciliation. Underscoring the clear links between terrorism and transnational organized crime, such as trafficking in weapons, human tracking and smuggling of migrants, he called on the international community to confront the “economy of terrorism”. However, the fight against terrorism would not be fully successful if it continued to lack a comprehensive convention that would complement existing instruments, bridge existing gaps and strengthen the counter-terrorism framework. The seventieth session must see the culmination of that negotiation process, he stressed.
ISAÍAS ARTURO MEDINA MEJÍAS (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, denounced international terrorism, particularly when it directly or indirectly involved the actions of States, irrespective of justification. The fight against terrorism could not afford such dichotomies. There was no such thing as good terrorists or bad terrorists. Foreign occupation or military aggression against States and peoples fostered terrorism, as demonstrated by the interventions in Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011 which contravened the Charter and had enabled groups such as ISIL and Al Qaida, among others, to grow. The collapse of State institutions had become a breeding ground for extremism, illicit arms traffic and the free flow of foreign terrorist fighters. The chaos in Libya had created fertile ground for local groups to ramp up their partnerships with established extremists. Thus, ISIL was a direct result of the intervention in Iraq, which then was able to spread.
Da’esh had systematically and deliberately violated human rights in contravention of international law and international human rights law, and committed war crimes, he said. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. The Syrian Government’s all-out war against such groups should be supported. Robust measures were needed to prevent the financing of terrorism. He also urged stepped-up cooperation to address the spread of terrorism through the Internet and social media. While there was a link between international terrorism and organized crime, they were different phenomena and must be assessed separately. He also proposed establishing a permanent, independent Ombudsman for the Security Council sanctions committees. On concluding the draft convention on international terrorism, he said that agreement on concepts and terminology such as “terrorism” and “State terrorism” must be unanimous.
ANNETTE ANDRÉE ONANGA (Gabon), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said the upsurge of heinous acts of terrorism proved that no country was spared from that phenomenon. Her country had ratified almost all counter-terrorism instruments within the auspices of the United Nations. Underscoring the need for intensified cooperation, particularly in information exchange and surveillance of terrorism financing sources, she appealed to Member States to help build the capacity of developing countries. Three workshops had been held in her country’s capital of Libreville, aimed at developing an integrated strategy to combat terrorism, weapons proliferation in central Africa, terrorism financing and money laundering. As combating terrorists was a collective responsibility, there must soon be consensus on a draft comprehensive convention. It was unfortunate that the slowness in that process contrasted with the increase in terrorist acts.
Right of Reply
In exercise of the right of reply, an observer for the State of Palestine, associated herself with the OIC and the Non-Aligned Movement, and said that following yesterday’s statement by the occupying Power, she was compelled to provide an example of the impunity with which Israel behaved. On 31 July this year, a group of “terrorist Israeli settlers” broke windows in a family home and threw in flaming materials, leading to the death of the family and orphaning their four-year old child who lay in a hospital, recovering from burns all over his body. Prime Minister Netanyahu had justly named the act terrorism, yet after four months there was no recourse. Without action, those statements were merely lip service, she said, calling for justice.
Responding to his counterpart, the representative of Israel said that since taking the floor yesterday, the brutal terror campaign against his country had escalated. Detailing four more attacks that had taken place since yesterday he described injuries that had been sustained by people in Jerusalem, as well as in the central parts of the country. Israel was in the midst of wave of terrorism incited by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, he said.