Speakers Welcome New References in Annual Text to Foreign Fighters, Financing
The world could not afford to underestimate the threat of terrorism, the General Assembly heard today as it adopted by consensus a resolution stressing the need for countries to join forces, with many Member States reiterating that no one country nor Government could tackle the scourge alone.
“We will be stronger if we work together,” said Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), as he introduced the text titled, “The United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy Review” (document A/72/L.62).
The Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy, adopted in 2006 and reviewed every two years, was not meant as a magic formula for all, he said. Each country had to respond to terrorism in its own way. The United Nations role concerning terrorism was a tricky one, he noted, underscoring that 11 September 2001 was perhaps the first time that the world truly understood the threat. Since then, the international community had worked within the United Nations system to streamline and evolve its counter‑terrorism efforts. He urged Member States to pay particular attention to the crimes being committed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and come up with a unified solution to tackle threats.
By the terms of the adopted text, the Assembly stressed the significance of a sustained and comprehensive approach to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, adding that it could not be defeated by military force, law enforcement and intelligence operations alone. The resolution further stressed that when counter‑terrorism efforts neglected rule of law, they not only betrayed the values that they sought to uphold, they also further fuelled violent extremism.
Urging States to ensure that counter‑terrorism legislation and measures did not impede humanitarian and medical activities, the Assembly condemned the failure to take all precautions to protect the civilian population against attacks. It further called on States, in their fight against terrorism, to review their procedures and legislation regarding their surveillance, and their collection of personal data, with a view to upholding the right to privacy.
The Assembly also called on Member States to highlight the important role of women in countering terrorism and violent extremism. It stressed that it was essential to address the threat posed by narratives used by terrorists, and that the international community should consider developing an accurate understanding of how terrorists motivated others to commit terrorist acts or how they recruited them.
Some Member States expressed disappointment with the text, with the representative of India emphasizing that the resolution primarily reflected only a technical update to the previous text adopted two years ago. Terrorist networks were evolving, continuing to terrorize peoples all over the world, propagating their ideologies of hate, recruiting across borders, and improving their use of modern technologies. For that reason, it was deeply disappointing and worrying to see the lack of meaningful progress in the resolution’s language, reflecting an inability of Member States to act collectively to tackle the threats from non‑State actors.
Turkey’s representative, also speaking on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia, welcomed language that updated the Strategy to include references to new challenges, including the need to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, counter the financing of terrorism and address terrorist narratives.
Singapore’s delegate agreed, adding: “Even when terrorist groups are territorially defeated, their ideological roots can remain pervasive.”
Terrorism would not be defeated by Government efforts alone, several Member States said, with the representative of the United States expressing regret that the resolution had not better reflected the role of civil society. Governments would have to partner with local actors, grass‑roots organisations, and women and youth groups, to better understand the challenges on the ground. Canada’s representative said his country’s “bottom‑up” approach — working with local communities and civil society — was vital to building resilient societies essential in preventing terrorism.
Many Member States warned against associating terrorism with any one religion, nationality or ethnicity, with Saudi Arabia’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), expressing concern over the growing intolerance against Muslims around the world. On a similar note, Venezuela’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that terrorism must not be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples under foreign occupation for national liberation. “Experience tells us that terrorist groups are nourished, among others, by despair, injustice, frustration, lack of opportunities and the denial of human rights,” he added.
With terrorists often targeting the most vulnerable and marginalized communities, including minorities and women and girls, myriad delegations stressed the need to focus on their protection. Switzerland’s delegate said that the fourth pillar of the United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy, namely on human rights, had continued to be the weakest and least well funded. He called for a holistic approach to fighting terrorism, one that emphasized prevention and addressed the conditions that lead to the spread of conflict by integrating peace, sustainable development and human rights.
Sri Lanka’s delegate, noting years of living under the yoke of terrorism, said his country had recognized the importance of fostering a culture of peace and dialogue rather than one of hate and bigotry. “While terrorists have dehumanized us, the international community should not embrace the lawlessness of terrorists and must never abandon its common humanity,” he said.
Prior to the text’s adoption, both the representatives of the United States and Israel disassociated themselves from the resolution’s preambular paragraph 36, which invokes foreign occupation.
Also today, the Assembly took note of the Secretary‑General’s report titled “Activities of the United Nations system in implementing the United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy” (document A/72/840).
Also speaking today were the representatives of Finland, Jordan, Turkey (in his national capacity), Brazil, Australia, Cuba, United Kingdom, Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, Bangladesh, Iraq, Japan, Egypt, Syria, Myanmar, Colombia, Israel, Sudan, Algeria, Peru, Lebanon, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Republic of Korea, Afghanistan, Serbia, Russian Federation, Mauritius, Qatar, Philippines, Tunisia, Ukraine, Pakistan, China and Chile, as well as a representative of the European Union.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 27 June to continue its review of the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy.
Introduction of and Action on Draft Resolution
MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, introduced the draft resolution titled “The United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy Review” (document A/72/L.62) and noted that the Secretary‑General’s report titled “Activities of the United Nations system in implementing the United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy” (document A/72/840) had been circulated. He said the Strategy was not meant to be a global solution, nor was it meant to be a magic formula, since terrorism was very complex. A one‑size‑fits‑all approach would never work, and each country and Government would respond to terrorism in its own way. International cooperation was vital, he said, stressing: “We will be stronger if we work together.” The Strategy would allow the international community to keep its fingers on the pulse of recent events, to learn from national experiences and hear each other’s views and concerns. The United Nations role with regard to terrorism was a tricky one, he said, underscoring that 11 September 2001 was perhaps the first time that the world truly understood the threat of terrorism. Since that time, the international community had been working to understand the Organization’s role in fighting against terrorism and work had been done within the United Nations system to streamline and evolve its counter‑terrorism efforts. He underscored that the world could not afford to underestimate the threat of terrorism, calling attention to the terrible crimes committed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). Nevertheless, there were new opportunities for solutions, provided the international community worked together.
Mr. COHEN (United States) stressed that the Strategy could not become yet another vehicle to criticize Israel at the United Nations. The United States could not accept the divisive reference to foreign occupation in preambular paragraph 36 of the resolution. That reference served to justify terrorist acts, which were categorically unacceptable under any circumstances and undermined Member States’ legitimate right to self‑defence. Accordingly, the United States disassociated itself from the consensus on the paragraph. “We must reject all terrorist acts, not pick and choose which forms and manifestations are criminal or justifiable,” he said.
NOA FURMAN (Israel) said that it disassociated itself from the content in preambular paragraph 36.
The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution without a vote.
KAI SAUER (Finland), speaking as a co-facilitator, said that, while it had been a challenging process, reaching consensus on the resolution was an important process in highlighting the crucial role of the General Assembly. Cooperation and joint determination were the only ways to defeat the scourge of terrorism. He commended the spirit of the facilitation process which had resulted in the consensual outcome. Numerous bilateral meetings with missions and regional groups were held with the aim of making the resolution more coherent and rational. He expressed appreciation that a technical change was well received by Member States, and that the resolution now better reflected the structure of the initial Strategy and its four pillars. He also expressed hope that the practical modification would help future review processes in making the resolution a relevant guide for Member States in their international efforts to counter terrorism.
SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan), also speaking as co‑facilitator, said that efforts had steered the negotiations to reflect the most urgent threats and trends in the field of international counter‑terrorism. All delegations showed pronounced dedication to their work. Small groups had discussed and streamlined language related to the United Nations counter‑terrorism architecture. Member States had managed to introduce significant updates to the draft resolution. They also agreed that the United Nations was the only platform to enhance multilateral response to the phenomenon of terrorism. Member States also reached compromises on many important issues, including on the relocation of foreign terrorist fighters, countering financing of terrorism, supporting the victims of terrorism and countering the terrorist narratives. Protecting human rights and respecting the rule of law while countering terrorism was not only a matter of principle, it was essential to the legitimacy of counter‑terrorist measures.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that terrorist acts were among the most flagrant violations of international law. Terrorism must never be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. It must never be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples under colonial or foreign occupation for self‑determination and national liberation. He stressed the need to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism. “Experience tells us that terrorist groups are nourished, among others, by despair, injustice, frustration, lack of opportunities and the denial of human rights,” he added. That must be addressed if Member States wanted to eliminate the scourge of terrorism in the long run.
The Non‑Aligned Movement expressed its resolve to take speedy and effective measures to eliminate international terrorism, he continued, urging all States to fulfil their obligations under international law and international humanitarian law. He also called on States to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in countering terrorism. The Movement believed that the fight against terrorism must take place within strengthened international cooperation, he said, calling on all States to both observe and implement the provisions of all international conventions. Urging all States to deny safe haven and bring to justice terrorists, he also expressed grave concern about financing of terrorism. Further, he noted the increasing potential links between transnational organized crime and the financing of terrorism, including money‑laundering. It was critical to address the threat posed by narratives used by terrorists to recruit fighters.
ABDULMAJEED ABDULRAHMAN M. ABABTAIN (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that terrorism continued to undermine the shared objectives of a peaceful and prosperous world. The resolution captured concerns over emerging threats and suggested appropriate remedial efforts while underscoring the need for addressing all local and external drivers of terrorism without taking a selective approach. Concerted and determined efforts were needed to address the root causes and drivers conducive to the spread of terrorism — including the unlawful use of force and aggression — and to end foreign occupation and other injustices. The resolution also underlined the need for enhanced synergy and effectiveness in various United Nations entities’ counter‑terrorism work.
The OIC stressed the need for further analytical information in the Secretary‑General’s reports on the resources required for providing capacity‑building support to Member States, he said, calling for concrete proposals for mobilizing resources for such projects. The organization recognized the threats posed by terrorism to women, youth and children, and stressed that sustained engagement was required to enable women and youth to act as potential agents of change and resilience to prevent radicalization within their respective communities. He expressed concern about the growing intolerance and discrimination against Muslims around the world, which was an affront to their human rights and dignity.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), also speaking on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia, said one of the Group’s priorities was preventing and combating terrorism through a comprehensive approach that encompassed not only ongoing, essential security‑based counter‑terrorism measures, but also systematic preventive measures and the respect for human rights. The continued and recent terrorist attacks around the world demonstrated the urgent need to address the threat through concerted action at the global, regional and national levels. The Group welcomed that the Strategy had been updated to include references to new challenges, including the need to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, counter the financing of terrorism and address terrorist narratives.
It was important to continue joint efforts to prevent and counter terrorism through relevant national action plans, he said, stressing the need for a “whole‑of‑Government” approach alongside a “whole‑of‑society” approach. Human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law were complementary and mutually reinforcing with counter‑terrorism measures and were an essential part of any successful counter‑terrorism effort. An effectively functioning United Nations system was an essential component of addressing terrorism and violent extremism, he said, highlighting the importance of the timely, adequate and effective delivery and facilitation by the United Nations of counter‑terrorism capacity‑building assistance to Member States.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said that while rule‑of‑law‑based security measures remained a fundamental pillar of counter‑terrorism efforts, a broader approach was needed to make societies more resilient against violent extremism. All forms and manifestations of violent extremism needed to be addressed with equal determination, while preventive measures should also focus on combating intolerance, social exclusion and all forms of xenophobia. The United Nations had a central role to play in combating the scourge of terrorism. Despite the global impact of terrorism, cooperation, information and intelligence sharing were still insufficient, he said, emphasizing: “We cannot succeed in our counter‑terrorism efforts unless we engage in genuine international cooperation”.
NELSON ANTONIO TABAJARA DE OLIVEIRA, Director General of the Department for Defence and Security of Brazil, said that terrorism was an evolving threat. The creation of the United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism had emerged as an example of the Assembly rising to the challenge of promoting coherence and consistency in the Organization’s efforts. However, the absence of a universally agreed upon definition of terrorism was detrimental to the shared goal of eliminating it. He stressed the need to overcome the stalemate preventing the adoption of the comprehensive convention on international terrorism. It was also important to clarify the relationship between various concepts such as terrorism, radicalism and violent extremism. Those phenomena may be linked in certain contexts, but they were not intrinsically correlated. Further, it was important to underscore that terrorism and transnational organized crime were not automatically linked. Terrorism could only be countered through approaches that addressed its root causes. He said it was important to address the recruitment of terrorists, adding that terrorist groups had been attracting recruits by offering them a sense of purpose, belonging and identity.
JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland) said that the United Nations had a vital role to play in combating terrorism and preventing violent extremism, underscoring various steps his Government had taken at the national and international level towards that end. Switzerland had organized an international conference to help promote and implement the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. It was also carrying out many capacity‑building projects with United Nations partners. Switzerland had welcomed the introduction of two paragraphs in the resolution aimed at strengthening respect for international humanitarian law by recalling the obligation of parties to a conflict to protect the civilian population. The fourth pillar of the United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy, namely focused on human rights, had continued to be the weakest and least well‑funded pillar in the United Nations architecture. He called for a holistic approach to fighting terrorism, one that emphasized prevention and addressed the conditions that lead to the spread of conflict by integrating peace, sustainable development and human rights.
JAMIE BELL, Acting Director General of the Counter‑Terrorism, Crime and Intelligence Bureau of Canada, said that his country was addressing terrorism and violent extremism through a bottom‑up approach, working with communities and civil societies. Underscoring the role of civilians and civil society in such efforts, he stressed that resilient societies were essential in preventing and fighting terrorism. Terrorism must never be associated to any specific region, nationality or ethnic group. He expressed regret that stronger language on gender, human rights and civil society had not been included in the resolution, adding that it was particularly disappointing that the text did not have a closer link to the women, peace and security agenda. It also did not recognize the importance of the gender dimension in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism. The text fell short of providing greater clarity and balance among the four pillars of the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia), associating herself with Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Turkey, underlined the importance of prevention as part of a comprehensive counter‑terrorism approach, as well as ensuring the protection of human rights and rule of law. A comprehensive approach to counter‑terrorism and preventing violent extremism must draw upon the skills, resources and expertise of all stakeholders, including leveraging the important role of civil society in engaging local communities to stem recruitment and radicalization. Australian agencies were working closely with international counterparts to detect and disrupt the outflow of foreign terrorist fighters from the Middle East through effective intelligence and law enforcement measures. Stressing that greater cooperation was needed to ensure that terrorists could not operate beyond the reach of the law while online, she added that countries must maintain strong and responsive national counter‑terrorism financing regimes, consistent with international standards.
ANA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) said that the violation of legal and ethical principles damaged the fight against terrorism. The resolution enshrined significant progress in consolidating international cooperation in fighting against terrorism. Steps were needed to foster greater inter‑State cooperation for the extradition of terrorists. The efforts of some to promote messages of hate against others via the Internet, radio or television deserved the international community’s firmest condemnation. There must be a move towards the adoption of a general convention on terrorism that comprehensively defined the scourge, she said, emphasizing that politicization and double standards only served to prevent the defeat of the causes and conditions that resulted in terrorism, including inequality and aggression.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, stressed the importance of preventing violent extremism and addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism. In that regard, there was an important role for the United Nations to play for furthering national and international efforts. As the global threat from terrorism evolved, the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters was of serious concern for many and would require greater capacity‑building for many States. The General Assembly must work closely with the Security Council to ensure that the United Nations counter‑terrorism architecture remained fit for purpose and was prepared to respond to an ever‑changing environment. The fight against terrorism was too important for divisions, which was in essence the goal of terrorists.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said that over the last few years, terrorism and violent extremism had significantly evolved, becoming an ever more complex threat to international peace and security, particularly regarding the use of the Internet by terrorist groups. His delegation welcomed the work of the newly established Office of Counter‑Terrorism, but expressed regret about the resolution’s lack of language regarding the role of women and girls in preventing narratives that fueled terrorism and violent extremism. Hate and revenge should have no place anywhere in the world, he said, emphasizing that it was important that Governments promote social inclusion to combat extremist and xenophobic discourses that undermined peace.
GRATA ENDAH WERDANINGTYAS, Director for International Security and Disarmament of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, welcomed the creation of the Office of Counter-Terrorism, while acknowledging the different capacity levels among States when it came to the implementation of the Strategy. Indonesia underlined the importance of the rule of law, in line with the principle of national ownership, and in that connection, she highlighted that her country was seeking to ensure that de‑radicalization and counter‑radicalization programmes were part of its comprehensive approach to combating terrorism. Indonesia was also preparing a national plan of action on countering violent extremism and had enacted a law that laid the groundwork for criminalizing terrorist financing and freezing terrorist assets.
TANMAYA LAL (India) said that, while the adoption of the resolution was by consensus, the text primarily reflected only a technical update to the previous resolution adopted two years ago. He expressed disappointment that the resolution did not reflect substantive modifications from its previous version. Terrorist networks had continued to terrorize people all over the world, propagating their ideologies of hate, recruiting across borders, raising funds and improving their use of modern technologies. While most Member States had experienced terror attacks, there still remained a struggle to advance multilateral cooperation on countering terrorism. It was disappointing to see the lack of meaningful progress in the text’s language, which continued to reflect the inability of Member States to act collectively to tackle the threats from non‑State actors. He had hoped that Member States could agree on focusing on the need to collectively discern challenges posed by terrorist networks in terms of their use of emerging technologies, recruitment strategies and striking targets across countries.
Mr. COHEN (United States) said that the adoption of the Strategy had been a major step forward for the international community in the fight against extremism and terrorism. The 2016 review of the Strategy was a high-water mark, with key elements still enduring in today’s text. He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s action plan to prevent violent extremism. Member States must take a tailored approach, as terrorist organizations continued to radicalize and recruit people to commit violent crimes. Governments must partner with local actors, especially civil society and grassroots organizations, who understood the challenges on the ground and could serve as early warning mechanisms. To win the fight, Governments must work with think tanks and religious and culture leaders to build resilient societies, taking into account the particular vulnerabilities of women and young people. He wished that the resolution had better reflected the role of civil society. It was important to stay focused on real threats, he added, stressing that counter‑terrorism measures must never undermine human rights.
On donor funding, he said the United States would not subsidize political crackdowns in the name of counter‑terrorism. It was essential to strengthen border security and law enforcement through technology and data sharing. Terrorists had no regard for the welfare of civilians, he said, noting with concern Hamas’ continued use of civilians as human shields. Member States were obligated to prohibit their nationals to provide assets to terrorist organizations for any purpose. For the abovementioned reasons, the United States had joined consensus on all but one paragraph.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said his country had been a victim of international terrorism on two occasions, adding that since the last review of the Strategy, a number of positive advancements had been made to the text. He added that Member States must benefit from the knowledge and technical abilities that the international community had acquired over decades of fighting terrorism. Argentina had also strengthened its legislation on the rights of victims of terrorism. It had also strengthened its national capacity for preventing and combating terrorism. Under the guidance of the Ministry of Justice, the Government was reviewing the enforcement of its laws to ensure that it remained in line with international standards. The Ministry of Justice was also making progress in building the capacity of judges, and was looking at money‑laundering crimes. On human rights, he reiterated Argentina’s unwavering pledge to abide by international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Argentina remained committed to today’s resolution, he added, welcoming the strengthening of the international multilateral system.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and OIC, expressed concern over the difference of views on preventing violent extremism. There was no need for reinterpreting the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, which underlined the primacy of national strategies developed and implemented through a “whole‑of‑society” approach. The need to uphold relevant international humanitarian and human rights law when combating terrorism could not be over‑emphasized. It was critical that double standards in combating terrorism were discarded so that no Member State could forgo its primary responsibility to protect civilian populations on its territory in the name of counter‑terrorism operations.
MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), associating himself with OIC and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that despite the military advances that had been made by the Iraqi national forces, ISIL/Da’esh continued to carry out horrible killings and violent acts, representing a grave threat to international peace and security. Iraq had identified 16 counter‑terrorism priorities, including many important projects aimed at addressing terrorism financing, providing employment opportunities for young people and upgrading skills and capacities to counter violent extremism and recruitment efforts through the use of new technologies. His delegation would stand with the international community in combating terrorism, particularly those measures aimed at stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and preventing them from accessing small arms and light weapons, while also enhancing the role of women, the youth and civil society in countering terrorists.
YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) said that, to address the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, it was vitally important to take collective measures to use advance passenger information, passenger name records and biometric data, as well as to connect International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) databases to law enforcement, border security and customs agencies. Japan underscored the importance of those measures and would provide technical assistance and capacity‑building to Member States that needed it. He stressed the important role of civil society, community leaders, women and youth in tackling counter‑terrorism and preventing violent extremism. In particular, women shaped communities and family values and were well positioned to identify and intervene when the earliest signs of radicalization were presented.
MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt) stressed the need to elaborate a clear definition of the term violent extremism, particularly as it related to terrorism. Maintaining ambiguity on that concept seemed to have been a deliberate act by some. In the end, the only solution was to preserve the paragraphs from the previous review while new paragraphs were added regarding foreign terrorist fighters, hate speech and other challenges. Egypt was playing an important role in combating terrorism at all levels. In order to make the resolution as effective as possible, the entire international community must work diligently in its implementation. He drew attention to the various United Nations entities working on counter‑terrorism issues, and the need for national ownership and projects. It was inconceivable that there were countries which publicly violated United Nations resolutions by providing funding, havens and weapons to terrorists.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said his country was in line of fire of terrorism, experiencing the rise of new and evolving models of the scourge. If the international community had shouldered its responsibility from the onset and exchanged information on the scourge, terrorism would have been eliminated completely. Rather, Member States were today discussing the return of foreign fighters to their host countries. That was occurring due to the collusion of some and the indifference of many. There was a big difference between non‑violent extremism and terrorism; the former was at risk of becoming the latter. Some Governments called foreign terrorist fighters members of the moderate Syria opposition. Some Governments called them the mujahideen and martyrs when they died in Syria but terrorists when they returned to their respective countries of origin. United Nations partners must acknowledge the difference in point of view regarding violent extremism and the many national considerations which govern States’ approaches to fighting terrorism. He recalled that the United Nations Charter was based on principles of justice and respect. The Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy should be reviewed every two years because the evolving nature of terrorism demanded a response, one that rose above the selfish concerns of certain Member States.
HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that terrorism remained one of the most serious threats to peace and security in the world today, and in that connection, the return and relocation of foreign terrorist fighters was one of the most serious threats to countries. Concerted multilateral efforts must be undertaken to respond effectively against the emerging transnational and multifaceted nature of terrorism. His country was concerned about regional and international terrorist organizations providing support to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
FRANCISCO ALBERTO GONZALEZ (Colombia) said that his country firmly rejected terrorist acts and believed they were unjustifiable crimes. Member States had a duty to implement the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy in a multidisciplinary and holistic fashion, he said, stressing the importance of the promotion and protection of human rights as well as tailored gender measures. Colombia firmly supported the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism that emphasized the need to act in a coordinated way that went beyond military or security actions. The victims of terrorism must be heard and States must have mechanisms that protected their rights. He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s effort to increase coordination and consistency across the United Nations system. Colombia placed particular importance on efforts aimed at combating the funding of terrorist groups, especially funding linked to organized crime.
NOA FURMAN (Israel) said that, for the first time, a General Assembly resolution had condemned the use of human shields, one of the most barbaric tactics used by terrorist organizations daily. The asymmetric warfare of terrorism was a challenge that her country had faced for decades. Much of international law was rooted in the assumption that armies battled armies, and countries faced off against countries. But that was increasingly no longer the case. Terrorist organizations did not abide by rules, norms or laws. They were an enemy with no red lines and who hid behind civilians. The resolution condemned the exploitation of civilians and their use as human shields. It also condemned the use of schools and hospitals for storing weapons and launching terror attacks, tactics that were regularly used by terrorist organizations such as Hizbullah and Hamas. The resolution had come after another historic first in the General Assembly, when the plurality in the Assembly Hall voted to condemn Hamas for those exact crimes. A united front must be presented against terrorism, but consensus could not be the sole objective, especially when some sought to undermine values and beliefs. That was why Israel had disassociated itself from preambular paragraph 36. There was no rationale for terrorism, but unfortunately that was what some had tried to do with the inclusion of new paragraphs in the resolution.
AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said that international networks with links to organized crime were a crucial lifeline for terrorists and violent extremist groups. In that regard, he urged Member States to pool their resources and share intelligence, databases and expertise to counter terrorism. Transnational organized crime was increasingly a part of the arsenal of terrorists and directly related to financing of terrorism. As a country that had suffered under the yoke of terrorism, Sri Lanka was well aware of the need for sharing information, technology and intelligence in combating the scourge. He noted the role of the media, particularly social media, in helping disseminate the values that foster a culture of peace and a forum for dialogue rather than a platform for hate and bigotry. “While terrorists have dehumanized us, the international community should not embrace the lawlessness of terrorists and must never abandon its common humanity,” he said. Terrorism often targeted the most vulnerable and marginalized communities, including minorities and women and girls, he added, emphasizing the need to particularly focus on protecting them.
OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and OIC, said that his country’s borders were lengthy and difficult to control which made Sudan a platform for some terrorist groups. The Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy was the most important international legal framework for guiding national legislation related to counter‑terrorism efforts, he said, describing the war against terrorism as a battle to protect human values and principles. Sudan was working to combat terrorism in step with the United Nations, which had a positive impact in reducing the activities of extremist agents and groups. Last year, Sudan deposited its draft national counter‑terrorism strategy with the Organization, which was to be implemented through cooperation across the Government and all segments of society.
SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria) said the fight against terrorism must also include the rejection of xenophobia and Islamophobia, which were emerging as the new face of violent extremism. He underlined the importance of consolidating efforts to enhance cooperation at the bilateral, regional and international levels, including by building capacities and sharing good practices. It was important to recognize the role of the United Nations Counter‑Terrorism Centre and encourage Member States to provide it with adequate financial and human resources. Algeria welcomed the General Assembly’s affirmation of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of all States within the framework of the global Strategy. It was noteworthy that the resolution recognized the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, which represented a growing threat to international peace and security. As evidenced by his country’s historical experiences, the total defeat of terrorism through military means alone would never be effective.
FRANCISCO TENYA (Peru) said his country believed it was important to act more strongly against violent extremism and to address its deep‑rooted causes including poverty and inequality. Actions should also involve combating violent rhetoric and providing a message of peace and reconciliation. While fully respecting freedom of expression, the abuse of social media by terrorists to propagate their violent ideologies must be prevented. Terrorist threats meant that national and international cooperation and exchange of information should be improved. The link between terrorism and organized crime should also be tackled. An international convention on terrorism should be created and efforts on that issue should be redoubled, he said.
PAWEL HERCZYNSKI, European Union, said the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy, together with relevant Security Council resolutions and the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, helped guide European Union efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism. Expressing full support for the United Nations role vis‑à‑vis terrorism, he recalled that the bloc and the Organization had recently agreed on a framework for enhancing their partnership on the issue. He reaffirmed the importance of a balanced implementation of all four pillars of the Strategy, emphasizing that a comprehensive approach was critical as States grappled with the prospect of returning or relocating fighters from conflict zones. While the resolution just adopted by the Assembly represented a hard‑won consensus, there were still differences between Member States on fundamental issues. In that respect, the European Union looked forward to leadership from the Under‑Secretary‑General for Counter‑Terrorism and his Office.
The European Union welcomed the Under‑Secretary‑General’s support for increased efforts to prevent violent extremism and the role that civil society must play in that regard, he said. The bloc and its member States were also encouraged by United Nations reforms in counter‑terrorism and the prevention of violent extremism, and agreed with the Secretary‑General that the Office of Counter‑Terrorism should focus on the development of global policy and coordination. The European Union would be a natural partner in that pursuit, he said, adding that the bloc was encouraged by the Organization’s commitment to an “all‑of‑UN” approach, including the parameters for strengthening coordination set forth in the Global Counter‑Terrorism Coordination Compact. He went on to reiterate the responsibility of Member States to implement the Strategy and their obligations under international law.
BACHIR SALEH AZZAM (Lebanon) said the adoption by consensus of the resolution stressed the importance of the multidimensional approach to preventing and combating terrorism. The armed forces of Lebanon had succeeded in defeating ISIL/Da’esh militarily and disrupting terrorist cells. Lebanon had engaged in countering the financing of terrorism, and had made notable achievements in that regard. However, to eradicate that source of evil, its deep and structural causes had to be addressed, including prolonged conflicts and foreign occupation. His country had spared no efforts to prevent terrorism. In March, it adopted a national strategy to prevent violent extremism following a lengthy and inclusive process that brought together the Government with civil society, relevant United Nations entities and other key actors. The plan was in line with relevant international standards such as United Nations resolutions and the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy. He looked forward to the High‑level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States that would take place in two days. It would be a useful step in operationalizing and advancing the key objectives of the Strategy, he said.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) said he commended the co‑facilitators for restructuring the resolution in a way that appeared to be more accessible, understandable and visible to actors outside of the United Nations system. He acknowledged the progress made in the resolution, particularly regarding provisions on foreign terrorist fighters and in countering the financing of terrorism. It also addressed the conditions conducive to terrorism and violent extremism, including prolonged unresolved conflicts, lack of the rule of law, foreign occupation, oppression, poverty, political exclusion, socioeconomic marginalization and lack of good governance. It also stressed that when counter‑terrorism efforts neglected the rule of law and violated international law, they not only betrayed the values they sought to uphold but could also fuel violent extremism that could be conducive to terrorism. He also highlighted that the resolution did not address the urgent need to improve the efficiency of the United Nations Counter‑Terrorism Centre in order to bring it to the level of other United Nations entities by adopting its terms of reference in the General Assembly. The Centre’s Advisory Board members continued to be appointed in a non‑transparent manner and its meetings continued to be held behind closed doors, he said.
Mr. SALEM AL ZAABI (United Arab Emirates), associating himself with OIC, said that the spread of terrorism in the Middle East had a devastating impact, resulting in a considerable loss of life and the displacement of millions. The international community must not give terrorist groups the latitude to reorganize following the losses they had suffered. The strategy reaffirmed the commitment of Member States to prevent the financing of terrorist acts and criminalize the provision of funds for terrorism. The strategy also addressed the growing use of information and communications technologies by terrorists and their supporters. In that context, it was important to distinguish between the freedom of expression and thought and hate speech. The strategy also underscored the importance of fostering tolerance and plurality to staunch extremism and terrorism, while also recognizing the important role played by women in combating terrorism.
HAM SANG WOOK (Republic of Korea) said the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy must be effectively implemented to better address threats posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters and terrorist use of new technologies. Informal dialogues among Member States could lead to a stronger Strategy in two years’ time. Initiatives relating to the prevention of violent extremism must take heed of those countries demanding greater respect of national ownership, and for terrorism and violent extremism not to be associated with any religion, nationality or ethnic group. The Office of Counter‑Terrorism should play a strong role in promoting the strategic coordination of the United Nations response to terrorism. It could do so by helping Member States, at their request, to build their capacity to prevent terrorism through strong regional and international partnerships.
MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) said that the task of countering terrorism was one that the people of his country had been engaged in for more than two decades. That struggle had persisted on the basis of national efforts to defend territorial integrity and sovereignty. Afghanistan was a proud nation, which defended its people and territory from elements of various terrorist groups that had arrived from outside of the country. Its security forces had braved the challenge of fending off those groups. The fight against terrorism was a core element of its nation‑building efforts, as Afghanistan continued to build a democratic and prosperous society, grounded in the rule of law. It was also working to ensure peace for its people and it was making important investments in that area. If successful, that would have a profound and positive impact on countering terrorism and reducing violence.
SANDRA PEJIC (Serbia), associating herself with the European Union, said fighting terrorism was her country’s strategic goal. In that regard, it considered the United Nations to be the most important forum for active engagement, with the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy providing a comprehensive approach to address the problem. Recalling the visit to Serbia in March of the Counter‑Terrorism Committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1373 (2001), she said the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters must be addressed through international and regional cooperation. She emphasized significant steps taken by her country recently, including the adoption of a National Strategy for the Prevention and Countering of Terrorism as well as steps to strengthen institutional capacities vis‑à‑vis terrorism and extremism.
MIKHAIL I. SHABALTAS (Russian Federation) said he was in favour of a balanced approach to countering terrorism, which should be reflected in the resolution on the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy review. Based on an unprecedented threat, there should be a broad counter‑terrorism coalition, he said, and the imperative of combating terrorism should be coupled with States observing international law and the Charter of the United Nations. He welcomed the creation of the United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism and had great expectations for it. He was in favour of neutralizing any form of support for terrorism, including the illegal supply of weapons and income from the illicit trade of narcotics. A number of States had supported a shift to contentious subjects such as the role of gender when planning counter‑terrorism measures. That approach could position terrorists as the victims of regimes. A balanced approach was also necessary when it came to the reintegration of terrorists. The global community faced the problem of foreign terrorist fighters who, after the defeat of ISIL/Da’esh, had returned to their countries or had travelled to third countries. Some of them had blended in or fallen off the radar of law enforcement, he said.
RISHY BUKOREE (Mauritius) noted that the Secretary‑General’s report underlined the need for the continued support of the United Nations to Member States in developing and implementing responses to terrorism. Mauritius was party to several international treaties that contained the obligation to apprehend, prosecute or extradite those that carried out terrorist acts, while the country’s Constitution guaranteed and safeguarded the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals. Substantive legislative amendments had been put in place in December 2016 to reinforce the country’s legal framework against terrorism, while in July 2017 Mauritius’ Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism was also amended.
ABDULRAHMAN YAAQOB Y.A. AL-HAMADI (Qatar) said the resolution was particularly important for strengthening collective action in combating terrorism and for building the capacity of the United Nations to support Member States in that regard. He welcomed new elements in the resolution, including those that related to the United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism. He reiterated Qatar’s condemnation of terrorism in all its forms. Qatar was taking action at every level to combat terrorism and tackle its root causes. It had a global approach to combating terrorism, and was a front‑line partner in international efforts in the military, financial and legal spheres in that regard. It also focused on strengthening efforts to combat the conditions that gave rise to terrorist groups. Qatar encouraged freedom of expression and freedom of the press to combat all attempts to use the fight against terrorism as a pretext for political purposes, he said.
TEODORO L. LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines) said his country valued the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy because it advocated for the necessity of developing a holistic approach. It did so by focusing on broadening the issues of counter‑terrorism and highlighting the growing nexus between transnational crime organizations and terrorist groups. It also focused on engaging more actors, not just States, international and regional organizations, but also private stakeholders, non‑governmental organizations, religious bodies and youth in order to prevent the threat of radicalization. The Strategy also affirmed the importance of human rights and international humanitarian law. Those issues resonated with his country because of the attack in the city of Marawi in May 2017 by hundreds of men belonging to an ISIL/Da’esh‑inspired terrorist organization called the “Maute Group”. Terrorists were able to gather together a motley assortment of extremists, criminals, mercenaries and foreign fighters to take control of the city and re‑establish their shattered caliphate in the Middle East, he said. Terrorism was a global problem that no country could tackle alone, and needed strengthened and continued international cooperation, which was what the Strategy provided.
MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia) said that no country was immune from the global threat of terror, attaching great importance to the balance and implementation of the Strategy across its four pillars. The fight against terrorism must be addressed at the regional and international level, he added, underscoring the role of Governments and civil society in that regard. He also emphasized the important role of women in countering terrorism and violent extremism. The threat had not diminished in the last several years. Technical assistance was vital to advancing the response in tackling terrorism and preventing the promotion of violent extremism. Tunisia would actively support the Office of Counter‑Terrorism in order to bring coherence to the United Nations work.
SERGII SHUTENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed the adoption of the resolution. At the same time, he regretted that despite the intensive negotiations, several important elements, particularly related to civil society engagement and the role of women and youth in counter‑terrorism efforts, were only partially included. The Strategy remained a milestone framework for international efforts to end terrorism, including tackling the root causes and the conditions conducive to its spread. For more than four years, the Russian Federation had employed a broad range of hybrid warfare techniques to promote the ideology of the so‑called Russian world, which implied an exclusive role for the Russian Federation in the internal affairs of several sovereign States, including Ukraine. The Russian ideology not only tolerated but encouraged violations of international law and the perpetration of the most serious crimes, including terrorist acts. Deceitful propaganda disseminated by the State‑controlled media was one of the key elements of the ongoing hybrid aggression against Ukraine. Terrorist acts and all crimes against humanity should be resolutely condemned and punished, he said.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with OIC, said that the resolution adopted did not end the journey. It was a milestone and there was a long way to go, as terrorism continued to be the most complex challenge of the time. Pakistan condemned terrorism and reaffirmed its commitment to fight it whatever the cost, and would continue to address the conditions conducive to terrorism in a balanced manner. It was critical that Member States addressed the root causes of terrorism and conflict. That meant ending foreign occupation and eliminating all forms of discrimination, including xenophobia and Islamophobia. The resolution noted that when counter‑terrorism efforts sidestepped the rule of law, they betrayed the values they sought to uphold.
ZHANG DIANBIN (China) said that the international community must foster a sense of a shared responsibility and future for humankind and collectively work to counter terrorism. It was essential to uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter when fighting against terrorism. China would continue to actively participate in and advance negotiations and talks on countering terrorism. Simply put, China stood ready to tackle all the threats to international peace and security, including terrorism and violent extremism.
JORGE ANDRÉS IGLESIAS MORI (Chile) said that terrorism threatened the basic values of all civilizations and culture as well as international peace and security. Chile believed that the protection of human rights must be embedded in all measures to counter terrorism. The swift and ongoing evolution of violent extremism and terrorism required that the fight against those scourges be renewed every two years. Terrorism could not be associated with any nationality or religious group. The participation of civil society and the private sector was central to ensuring a multidimensional approach in combating the global threat. Gender mainstreaming was a vital as well.
LUKE TANG (Singapore) said that the scourge of terrorism remained a serious and persistent threat to global peace and security. No country was immune to the threat nor could address the challenge alone. It was essential for the United Nations to send a clear and unified message of its collective resolve to address the global threat. He welcomed the new language in the resolution concerning foreign terrorist fighters. “Even when terrorist groups are territorially defeated, their ideological roots can remain pervasive,” he continued. Terrorism could not be defeated by Government efforts alone. A whole‑of‑society approach was essential to defeat terrorism and counter violent extremism, he added, emphasizing the role of community and religious leaders in helping counter the spread of extremist ideology.