Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ statement at the Security Council ministerial debate on “The Contribution of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Commonwealth of Independent States and Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Countering Terrorist Threats”, in New York today:
I am grateful for the opportunity to address the Council on cooperation between the United Nations and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in countering terrorist threats.
We face an unprecedented threat from intolerance, violent extremism and terrorism. It affects every country, exacerbating conflicts and destabilizing entire regions, and it is constantly evolving. The new frontier is cyberterrorism: the use of social media and the dark web to coordinate attacks, spread propaganda and recruit new followers.
In response to this unprecedented threat, we are taking unprecedented action. The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and related Security Council resolutions provide a comprehensive framework. Pursuing and dismantling terrorist groups is vital, but it is just one among many measures. We must complement security measures with prevention efforts that identify and address root causes, while always respecting human rights.
We must build the resilience of societies so that people and communities reject terrorist narratives that prey on fear and hopelessness. We must reinforce the social compact, including the provision of basic services and opportunities, particularly for young people. Most recruits to terrorist groups are between 17 and 27 years old. We need to provide paths that offer a sense of hope and purpose to our young men and women, including education, training and jobs. We need comprehensive and inclusive approaches, starting at the grassroots, where families and communities are on the frontlines.
The subjugation of women and girls is something many extremist and terrorist groups have in common, regardless of ideology. This is not a coincidence; it is foundational to their purpose. Gender equality and engaging women and girls must be central to our efforts to prevent and counter terrorism. We also need to support victims of terrorism who have the greatest moral authority and who consistently call for justice. Among the victims are the children of foreign terrorist fighters who will need help to overcome trauma and stigma as they grow up.
International cooperation is the first priority of our counter-terrorist strategy. No single country or organization has all the answers to the cross-border challenges posed by terrorism and by returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters. Countries need to cooperate with one another as well as with partners, including the private sector and civil society, to successfully address these challenges.
The three organizations that are the subject of this ministerial debate are playing an important role in promoting regional counter-terrorism cooperation by facilitating the exchange of critical information and knowledge, and the implementation of joint investigations and operations. The United Nations is strengthening its institutional links with each of them.
Our partnership has established frameworks for joint activities, exchanges of information, and collaboration on capacity-building assistance to Member States in line with the principles established by the Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact, which guides all United Nations activities on counter-terrorism.
I am particularly proud of our engagement, together with the Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, on the United Nations Joint Plan of Action for the Implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia. By developing a Joint Plan of Action, the first regional initiative of its kind, the parties involved have shown what can be achieved with collective action, leadership and political will. The Joint Plan of Action contributes to strengthening the capacities of Central Asian Member States to enhance border security, prevent violent extremism conducive to terrorism, and foster dialogue with religious leaders.
I would like to commend the important work of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States to harmonize the counter-terrorism legislation of its members. Parliamentary engagement is critical in creating comprehensive approaches that are effectively resourced and anchored in human rights and the rule of law.
Terrorism is fundamentally the denial and destruction of human rights. Terrorist groups share an agenda that is authoritarian, intolerant and frequently misogynistic. Our efforts to counter terrorist ideology must be founded on respect for the dignity and human rights of all.
The counter-terrorism cooperation between the United Nations and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is deepening as it covers a growing range of issues. I look forward to our continued cooperation as we work together to end the threat of terrorism and build a more secure and prosperous future for all.