New York

10 June 2014

The Deputy Secretary-General's Remarks at Side Event on "Criminal Justice Systems - Counter Terrorism Capacity Building"

First of all, I want to thank the Permanent Mission of Pakistan, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate for organizing this important event on the sidelines of the review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, I wanted to thank you Ambassador Khan for your clear and concise presentation of the key challenges and key tasks ahead of us.

We meet at a time when heinous terrorist acts are an almost daily occurrence.  Terrorism is a scourge that damages, disfigures and destroys lives. Here I would like to also take a moment, as the Secretary-General did yesterday, to express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims, the people and the Government of Pakistan after the appalling loss of life and injury inflicted by terrorist attacks in Karachi and Baluchistan last Sunday.

This year we have around the world seen terrorist groups target school children, passengers, commuters, reporters, market traders, nurses, police officers, aid workers and many, many innocent bystanders.  This violence and brutalization is senseless, cowardly and abhorrent.  Terrorism is an attempt to instil and infuse debilitating fear into our societies. This provocation against peace, security and human dignity must never succeed.

States cannot counter this scourge alone.  Most terrorist activities involve cross-border operations.  As the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy makes clear, an effective response requires the cooperation of the entire international community.  Discussions like this one today help us strengthen common approaches. 

Such approaches will support a balanced implementation of the Strategy across its four pillars: 

(1) addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism;
(2) preventing and combating terrorism; 
(3) building the capacity of States and the United Nations; and
(4) ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law.

I am proud to have been President of the General Assembly in September 2006 when this strategy was launched.

It is essential that our responses to prevent and combat terrorism build on a strong commitment to criminal justice.  Competent, independent and impartial criminal justice systems, based on human rights and the rule of law, provide the basis for effective prosecutions.  This is what in the end brings justice and protection to the many victims.  

Well-functioning criminal justice systems also increase public confidence and trust in the institutions of the State.  This enhances the capacity of States to combat terrorism in compliance with international human rights standards.  Successful investigations and prosecutions, in accordance with due process guarantees, serve as powerful deterrents.

The transnational nature of terrorism also makes criminal justice cooperation among States essential.  Thus, international, regional and bilateral cooperation is critical.

Yet, not all Member States have the same starting point.  For States that are working hard to establish and consolidate the rule of law and strengthen their law enforcement structures, the threat posed by terrorism can sometimes seem overwhelming as we have seen around the world.

The United Nations, therefore, continues to place high priority on national capacity-building and criminal justice training.  It is through building the capacity of rule of law-based criminal justice systems that States can ensure more accountable and more transparent responses to terrorist acts.  Criminal justice strategies, which are inconsistent with international human rights standards, undermine the legitimacy and effectiveness of efforts to eradicate terrorism and also address its root causes. 

UN assistance is based upon national ownership. Our programmes have to fit national needs and priorities and respond to the specific contexts in which criminal justice systems function.

The Secretary-General, in his report on the activities of the UN system in implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, has reaffirmed the importance of strengthening Member States’ criminal justice systems. The Secretary-General and I are committed to coherence among the many UN entities and bodies involved in this work.

The UN continues to strengthen its coordination mechanisms, not least through reforming and revitalising the CTITF Inter-agency Working Groups.  I welcome the creation of the Working Group on Legal and Criminal Justice Responses as well as the Working Group on Protecting Human Rights While Countering Terrorism. 

I also welcome the Global Focal Point of UNDP and DPKO for the police, justice and corrections areas in post-conflict and crisis situations. This is ensuring a coordinated system-wide response to field-level requests in the area of the rule of law.

As we look to the future, particularly in the context of the post-2015 development agenda, it is clear that strengthening the rule of law and protecting human rights will strengthen the necessary public trust in the institutions of the State.  This goes to the heart of Member States’ obligation to protect citizens, families and communities from violence and terrorist acts.

If we are to succeed on this front, in this pursuit, in parallel with building an effective international structure of cooperation, we will be one step closer to achieving more stable and more secure conditions for our citizens. We will fight this attack [which is waged] against our societies by instilling fear, as I mentioned in the beginning. We must succeed in making peaceful dialogue and change the order of the day, in the spirit of the UN Charter and in the spirit of the aspirations of all the people of the world who want to live lives in peace and in dignity.

Thank you