Report of the Secretary-General: H. Drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations


Haitian National Police destroys seized marijuana and cocaine with the support of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the Unites States Embassy. ©UN Photo/Victoria Hazou

Confronting transnational threats, organized crime, terrorism, violent extremism and asymmetric violence has become an everyday matter for many United Nations personnel working in mission and non-mission settings around the world. These issues force the United Nations to redirect attention and resources at the expense of other fundamental priorities. In many contexts, the United Nations is challenged to “stay and deliver” in some of the most non-permissive and unstable environments, while ensuring the safety and security of personnel. This is not an easy task. Eight out of the 11 countries that face the highest levels of threat from Al‑Qaida-affiliated terrorist groups host United Nations peace operations; seven of those eight missions are political missions, which do not have peacekeeping troops at their disposal and therefore face distinctive security challenges. Violence threatens more than the physical security of United Nations personnel. When staff are unable to operate or forced to leave, we cannot continue to deliver on our core mandate, the search for long-term, sustainable and inclusive political solutions which address the root causes of violence.

Underscoring how terrorists have taken advantage of political, social and economic cleavages in society to establish and advance their cause, most terrorist activities during the reporting period occurred in countries mired in new or old conflicts. A rising number of conflicts saw terrorism result in large-scale humanitarian crises and refugee flows. The rise of terrorist groups fuelled by violent extremist ideologies is also a growing concern. Focusing on short-term law enforcement and security measures without addressing the drivers of violent extremism will not, by itself, be successful. For this reason, I presented a Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (A/70/674), which contained more than 70 recommendations to Member States and the United Nations system. The Plan proposes the development of national plans of action that identify context-specific drivers of violent extremism to more effectively address them. In addition, an agenda of forward-looking recommendations to strengthen international counter-terrorism cooperation was presented in my biennial report to the General Assembly on the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (A/70/826 and Corr.1), marking its tenth anniversary. The report aimed to inform Member State consultations ahead of the General Assembly’s fifth review of the Strategy, which was conducted on 30 June and 1 July, just after the submission of the report. Those consultations are expected to produce a resolution adopted by consensus that will chart the work of the Organization on counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism for years to come.

Pending the review, work continued during the reporting period on the implementation of all four pillars of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Many United Nations entities assisted Member States in enhancing their capacities to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism through a strengthened and coherent, “all-of-United Nations”, approach, including through the Integrated Assistance for Countering Terrorism initiative and the capacity-building implementation plan for countering the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. Support was also provided to Member States in building the capacity of their criminal justice, border control and law enforcement systems, in particular to more effectively address the newly emerging challenges relating to terrorism, such as the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, the growing nexus between terrorism and transnational organized crime and the financing of terrorism, including through trafficking in cultural property.

 While significant progress in countering piracy off the coast of Somalia has been made, it remains fragile and reversible as credible reports suggest that commercial ships remain a target of Somali pirates and smaller vessels remain vulnerable. Long-term security off the coast of Somalia needs to be built up first on shore, where capacity-building efforts have yet to produce lasting and sustainable results in tackling the root causes of piracy such as a fragile economy, youth unemployment, weak judicial capacity and weak governance structures. The United Nations has been providing support to Somalia and the region through a Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

The General Assembly held a special session on the world drug problem in April. In the lead-up, many United Nations entities supported Member States with evidence and analysis of the impact of the world drug problem. In the resulting outcome document (resolution S-30/1), the Assembly recognized the need for a comprehensive, integrated and balanced approach to addressing the multifaceted challenges presented by drugs around the world. In doing so, it emphasized the importance of scientific and evidence-based approaches to supply and demand reduction, while addressing cross-cutting themes such as the protection of human rights, health, mainstreaming gender and age perspectives in drug-related policies and identifying new and emerging threats posed by new psychoactive substances. At the special session, the General Assembly laid the groundwork for the 10-year review of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action of 2009 relating to the world drug problem, the main policy document guiding international action in this area. I look forward to an inclusive dialogue that is open to new ideas and approaches in the lead-up to that review.

The United Nations continued to support Member States in preventing crime and reforming their criminal justice systems in line with international standards and norms. The first United Nations Chiefs of Police Summit reiterated the importance of United Nations policing in building and strengthening the capacities of host-State institutions to prevent and address transnational organized crime as well as situating policing in broader legal and security sector reform. Having supported the revision and adoption of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) and other instruments, the Organization is providing technical assistance to address the global prison crisis, promote justice for children and enhance police and justice responses to violence against women and girls. The United Nations Joint Global Programme on Essential Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence is supporting countries in providing greater access to a coordinated set of essential and quality multisectoral services for all women and girls who have experienced gender-based violence. The Global Programme on Violence against Children is assisting countries in implementing their international commitments.

In support of the implementation of General Assembly resolution 69/314 and in line with its mandate the United Nations conducted the first global wildlife crime threat assessment, highlighting the vulnerability to organized crime of protected species of wild fauna and flora. United Nations entities continue to work together towards a common strategy on combating this illicit and tragic trade by addressing issues relating to demand and supply, creation of robust legal frameworks and effective international cooperation. My report to Member States on the implementation of resolution 69/314 (A/70/951) is available.

Ten additional States ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption during the current biennium, bringing the number of States parties to 178. The implementation review mechanism completed more than 100 reviews and in November 2015 States parties launched the second cycle of the review mechanism.

The Organization continued to support the implementation by States of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto by providing enhanced technical assistance to counter all forms of organized crime, including the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons, especially in the context of conflict areas and the Mediterranean. The Security Council called on all Member States to do everything in their power to combat human trafficking, especially for sexual purposes, citing the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the Lord’s Resistance Army and Boko Haram as prime perpetrators. Efforts were also stepped up to ensure policy coherence while addressing illicit financial flows, issues relating to foreign fighters, and the recovery of stolen assets. The latter are an important part of the discussion on financing for development as the international community embarks upon implementing the 2030 Agenda, which explicitly recognizes the links between governance, the rule of law, justice, security and sustainable and equitable development for all.