It is a great pleasure to attend this high-level event that brings together the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the United Nations. I thank the Russian Chairmanship of the SCO for co-hosting this event.
We face an increasingly complex global peace and security environment. Improving our understanding of the nexus between terrorism, transnational organized crime and drug trafficking is essential. So, this meeting has a particularly relevant meaning at the present time. I welcome the Security Council’s adoption in July of resolution 2482, on the links between international terrorism and organized crime.
These interconnected issues are important to the stability and security of the Member States of the SCO, and we are your natural partners in tackling them. Breaking up trafficking organizations and addressing the criminal use of fixed routes is crucial to countering movements of foreign terrorist fighters and arms, including to and from Iraq and Syria.
Our two organizations are also committed to promoting peace in Afghanistan and supporting the Afghan people as they build a more stable and prosperous future. Addressing the cultivation of opium, which provides revenue to the Taliban, can play a part in undermining their ability to destabilize communities and to wage war.
The SCO is a leading player in regional diplomacy, promoting multilateralism and fostering cooperation to address the most pressing peace and security issues in Eurasia. Your organization represents the largest combined population of any regional grouping in the world: over 3 billion women and men, more than half of them children and young people.
Earlier in September, the Security Council debate 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 highlighted the important role of all three organizations in facilitating the exchange of critical information and knowledge, implementing joint investigations and operations, and addressing root causes.
To deepen our partnership with the SCO, the United Nations Secretariat is strengthening its institutional links with your organization. I also welcome the recent General Assembly resolution on UN-SCO cooperation.
The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and other UN entities are developing cooperation frameworks with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure.
I am particularly proud of our engagement with SCO on the United Nations Joint Plan of Action for the Implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia – the first regional initiative of its kind.
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 look forward to the further active engagement and close cooperation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.
Addressing terrorism and its links with transnational crime and drug trafficking takes many forms. Security measures are vital, but they are just one part of the solution.
The United Nations system is working with SCO countries to support holistic efforts to prevent and counter terrorism by dealing with root causes, with full respect for the rule of law and human rights.
For example, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is engaged across Central Asia in promoting a human rights-based approach to countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.
I urge all SCO countries to provide space for OHCHR and other agencies to engage in this vital work. Indeed, respect for human rights is an essential tool in the successful fight against terrorism.
The UN development system is supporting governments to build the resilience of societies and reinforce the social compact, so that individuals and communities have prospects of a better future. Providing paths for young people to access education, training and opportunities is essential, also a prevention against terrorism.
Terrorist and extremist groups often share a misogynistic ideology that subjugates women and girls. Our work to promote gender equality and the rights of women and girls is central to efforts to tackle extremism, organized crime and the trafficking of people and drugs.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has also supported SCO Member States in areas including the handling of digital evidence.
The Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee’s Executive Directorate has conducted assessment visits to many SCO countries, most recently China and Tajikistan. The Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization participated in several of these visits.
I am confident that in joining our efforts, the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization can make a positive contribution to the lives of people in Eurasia, strengthening regional cooperation at all levels.
Together we can seize today’s opportunities for progress. I count on your engagement and wish you a very fruitful meeting.