New York

29 May 2015

Secretary-General's remarks to Security Council meeting on Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts (Foreign Terrorist Fighters)

Since the adoption of Security Council resolution 2178, the flow of foreign terrorist fighters that have joined the ranks of Da’esh and other terrorist groups continues to grow.

There has been an estimated 70 per cent increase in FTFs worldwide between the middle of 2014 and March 2015.

This trend means more FTFs in the front-lines, a bigger pool of expertise available to terrorists, and a menace to their countries of origin once they return.

The 1267 Al-Qaida Sanctions Monitoring Team estimates that more than 25,000 FTFs from over 100 Member States have traveled to Syria and Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, Yemen and Libya.

No country can tackle this challenge alone.  Member States have to enhance their cooperation and exchange information, develop effective border controls and strengthen their criminal justice systems, in accordance with the rule of law and human rights standards.

Full compliance with international law is central to success.

This includes, in particular, international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law.

When counter-terrorism efforts ignore the rule of law and violate fundamental rights, they not only betray the values they seek to uphold, but can also end up further fuelling violent extremism.

To ensure consistency with human rights principles, measures to implement resolution 2178 must be clear and precise, as required by the principle of legality.

Exceptional and lawful restrictions imposed on rights must be specific, necessary and proportionate.  The United Nations stands ready to assist Member States in implementing these standards.

Ultimately, we have to address the conditions conducive to young men and women being lured by violent extremism.  Radicalization is the essential precursor to individuals becoming FTFs.

Building effective, accountable and inclusive governance and institutions is an important element of preventive efforts.

Youth today are the group most prone to radicalization, violent extremism and recruitment as FTFs.

Most FTFs are young males aged between 15 to and 35 motivated by extremist ideologies.  However, we should also address the conditions and factors leading women and girls to join the ranks of Da’esh and other terrorist groups.

I welcome this growing emphasis on addressing the underlying drivers of violent extremism at the global, regional, national and local levels to prevent radicalization.

I intend to present a Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism to the 70th Session of the General Assembly later this year.

I also welcome other Council initiatives, including the upcoming Counter-Terrorism Committee Special Meeting on stemming the flow of FTFs, which will be held in Madrid on 27 and 28 July.

In support of the implementation of Security Council resolution 2178, I have instructed the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force in the Department of Political Affairs to establish an inter-agency working group on FTFs to coordinate the work of all relevant United Nations entities.

The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre’s project on “Enhancing the Understanding of Foreign Terrorist Fighters’ Phenomenon in Syria” that I announced at the  Security Council Summit last September is aimed at understanding the underlying drivers of the FTF phenomenon with a view to assisting Member States in crafting better policy responses.

I welcome the recent interest that many  affected countries have expressed in this project.

I remain concerned that recent events, particularly in Iraq and Syria, which have seen the advance of Da’esh and other groups with the growing support of FTFs, demonstrate that this is an increasing threat to international peace and security that requires even more concerted action by the international community.

The United Nations will continue to work actively with Member States to forge more comprehensive and creative approaches to address this multidimensional threat, emphasizing the importance that we should attach to ensuring that they are fully anchored in the rule of law and human rights. Thank you.