I thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting this meeting and for the traditional Saudi hospitality that has been extended to us.
I especially want to recognize the commitment and generosity of His Majesty King Abdullah. His support has played a crucial role in making the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre a reality.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It has not been long since the Centre was established within the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force at UN Headquarters.
But in that short span of time, the Centre has generated great interest among counter-terrorism practitioners and policymakers, and attracted strong support from Member States.
The presence of so many Permanent Representatives and senior officials from capitals here today is further testimony to the breadth and depth of that backing.
I once again thank the Government of Saudi Arabia for its initiative in establishing the Centre, and to all of you for helping to develop it.
The need is eminently clear. Terrorism continues to affect all regions of the world. It has left a heavy toll of ruined lives and deferred hopes for peace and prosperity.
But the world is fighting back against this menace.
The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopted by consensus by all Member States in the General Assembly, is the cornerstone of a truly global multilateral response.
The UNCCT strengthens the CTITF’s capacity to support Member States in implementing this Strategy.
At the High-level Symposium on International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation that I convened in September last year, Member States from around the world called for increased collaboration, particularly at the regional level, on the implementation of the Strategy.
Over the past year-and-a-half, the CTITF, in partnership with relevant member entities and partners, has contributed to the development of comprehensive and integrated regional counter-terrorism strategies.
One notable success was the adoption of a regional counter-terrorism plan for Central Asia. I urge the UNCCT to support similar CTITF endeavours in other regions where terrorism is a threat and where regionally-led coordinated action has been a challenge.
I also encourage you to focus on developing institutional and technical capacities at the national level. The UNCCT can provide strong support in this area, especially in the elaboration and review of national strategies.
Capacity-building is best done with comprehensive mapping of strengths and shortcomings, and solid analysis of priority needs.
I particularly encourage the Centre to support the CTITF’s Integrated Assistance for Countering Terrorism initiative – I-ACT – which aims to ensure coherence among the various UN entities and partners working on national capacity building. A lot of work is already under way, notably in Nigeria and soon in Burkina Faso. But the needs are great and we must respond to the strong interest at the national level by engaging closely with national institutions on programme development and delivery.
A number of other key issues also merit the Centre’s support.
Suppressing the financing of terrorism is a critical area where internationally-accepted guidelines need to be effectively applied.
At the strategic level, we need to try to understand – and counter – the appeal of terrorism. That means building a culture of dialogue, spreading education and promoting inter-community engagements. I am heartened to note the strong focus that CTITF entities have given to this area.
The importance of protecting human rights while countering terrorism cannot be overemphasized. But we must move beyond rhetorical support and truly demonstrate, through our actions, our commitment to upholding human rights and the rule of law.
The UNCCT also has great potential to solidify international action on highlighting and supporting the plight of victims of terrorism. Victims and their families are among the most powerful voices in the fight against terrorism, and I urge the UNCCT to support their efforts.
Your deliberations here today will help chart a course of activities for the months ahead.
I am confident that the Centre’s work will contribute to CTITF activities, which have expanded greatly and now cover numerous thematic topics with the support of 31 United Nations agencies and international partners.
This is an important time in the struggle against terrorism.
Our resolve to tackle and suppress this threat is strong, and the UNCCT is a key tool at our disposal to achieve better coordination and effective action.
Let me again thank the Government of Saudi Arabia for hosting this meeting. I urge you to come up with solid ideas and initiatives for the UNCCT, and I wish you all a productive session.