21 August 2020

Secretary-General, in Observance Message, Urges Long-Term Assistance, Justice for Terrorism Victims, Stressing Survivors’ Voices Must Be Heard

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the high-level event to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, “Not Forgotten:  Stories of Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism”, today in New York:

Today, we commemorate the third International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism.

We stand in solidarity with the families who have lost loved ones, the wounded survivors, and those whose lives have been forever changed by acts of terrorism.  We pay tribute to their courage, resilience and fortitude.  And we commit to raising their voices and seeking truth and justice.  We cannot undo the damage done, but we can defend their human rights and dignity.  We have a duty to ensure they are always heard and never forgotten.

This third International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism takes place while the world is in turmoil.  The COVID-19 crisis has changed the way we live and interact with each other.  Vital services for victims, such as criminal justice processes and psychological support, have been interrupted, delayed or ended while Governments focus attention and resources on fighting the pandemic.

As many commemorations and memorials have been cancelled or moved online, due to the pandemic response, victims have not been able to receive the comfort of being physically together in solace and solidarity.  This includes the first-ever United Nations Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism, which has been postponed to next year due to COVID-19.  And, of course, we have had to hold today’s commemoration virtually.  It does not compare to being together in person, to remember and to honour loved ones.  But it is important that we keep a spotlight on this important issue.

We have come a long way in our collective efforts to support victims of terrorism.  But we still have much to do.  My report in April recommended establishing a voluntarily funded programme to support Member States to provide long-term, durable assistance to victims.  I look to the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism to lead on the implementation of the report’s recommendations and I thank the Permanent Representatives of Afghanistan and Spain for their strong leadership and vision.  The United Nations will continue to support Member States’ efforts to draft and adopt legislation and national strategies to help victims.

I am always inspired and deeply moved by the bravery and resilience of the survivors of terrorist attacks.  Their message to me remains clear:  “We are here, we must not be forgotten, and we need your support.”  So, let us continue remembering and honouring all victims of terrorism, even and especially in times of crisis.  Victims should remind us every day of the importance of our counter-terrorism efforts.  We need to listen to them.

Let us put in place measures that uphold their rights to justice, protection, support and rehabilitation, so they can rebuild their lives.  Let us do everything in our power to prevent terrorist attacks and demand that those responsible are held accountable.  And let us stand together, bound by the shared values and freedoms which unite us against terrorism in all its forms.

For information media. Not an official record.