Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen are ‘Our Common Concern’, Secretary-General Tells Security Council, Urges Collective Efforts to Fight Terrorism

SG/SM/17159-SC/12065
30 September 2015

Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen are ‘Our Common Concern’, Secretary-General Tells Security Council, Urges Collective Efforts to Fight Terrorism

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Security Council ministerial meeting on “Maintenance of international peace and security:  Settlement of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and countering the terrorist threat in the region”, in New York today:

I thank the Russian Federation for organizing this very important meeting.  And I also take this opportunity to express my deep thanks to many Foreign Ministers who are participating in this meeting.  The number of participating Foreign Ministers is just impressive, I hope this kind of solidarity will be always with us in many subjects we are dealing with.

The Middle East and North Africa are in the midst of some of the deadliest conflicts and worst humanitarian emergencies of our times.  Terrorist groups, such as ISIL [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham] and Al-Qaida affiliates are elevating the horror and complicating the search for solutions.

While each is very different, the crises and conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen all expose similar horrors.

Syria has proven to be the most intractable.  It has generated one peril after another; the use of chemical weapons, the rise of ISIL and other extremist groups, the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War and the displacement of eight million people inside the country.

We need to take urgent measures to protect civilians from widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.  We have an obligation to the Syrian people to help ensure accountability for serious crimes.  I appeal to the Council to strongly support my Special Envoy’s efforts to promote a comprehensive and credible political transition based on the Geneva communiqué.

Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen are our common concern, and their resolution is our shared responsibility.

Next year, Member States will mark the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the UN's Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  With the Strategy now long-established as the accepted framework for action, we must push for more concrete implementation.  Those efforts must be balanced and anchored in international human rights law.  We must also have a keen sense of the need to avoid unintended consequences.

The United Nations is working with many partners to expand capacity-building assistance to Member States, including to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and to address the related ills of illicit drug-trafficking and cybercrime.

It is not enough to counter terrorism; we must also prevent violent extremism, while taking care not to take steps that only breed the resentment and alienation on which violent extremism feeds.

During the course of this General Assembly, I will present to the Member States a comprehensive plan of action outlining ways we can work together in this endeavour.

The plan of action will recommend ways that Member States can address the drivers of violent extremism at the global, regional, national and local levels.

It will also set out how the United Nations system can support Member States through a holistic “all-of-UN” approach encompassing peace and security, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian action.

The current reviews of peace operations and peacebuilding are also underscoring the importance of addressing root causes.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its focus on justice, inclusive institutions and resilience, also has a strong preventive dimension.  A more sustainable world will be a safer world.

Conflicts, governance failures and systematic violations of human rights are affecting not only the Middle East and North Africa, but the world at large.  Women and girls are facing systematic brutality.  Young people are having their futures taken away from them before they have barely had a chance to dream.

We must work together to stop this downward spiral, using all UN tools.  The people of the Middle East and North Africa deserve our full support in meeting these tests and steering the region towards a path of freedom, safety and dignity for all.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.