New York

30 June 2016

UN Secretary-General's Remarks to the General Assembly Review of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy

I would like to thank the President of the General Assembly and the co-facilitators, Ambassadors Martín Garcia Moritán and Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, Permanent Representatives of Argentina and Iceland respectively, for their hard work in steering this Fifth Review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

I have been closely following the negotiations on the draft resolution and I have to admit that I am profoundly disappointed that this year of all years might be the one that does not see the adoption of a consensus resolution.

All Member States agree that international terrorism is affecting them at unprecedented levels and that it requires our concerted action.

People the world over look to us to act with unity and resolve to address this major scourge of our time.

The urgent necessity of tackling and preventing terrorism has been brought home to us once again this week in the most tragic and horrific way.

The terrorist attack at Istanbul airport is an attack on all of us; on our most fundamental values; and on our solidarity and unity of purpose.
I express my deepest condolences to everyone affected, families, friends, colleagues of those killed and injured, and to the Government and people
of Turkey.

This review marks the 10th anniversary of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. 

Important shifts have occurred in the global terrorism landscape since the adoption of the Strategy by consensus in 2006.

While there has been important progress in its implementation, the strategy has encountered unforeseen challenges.

The spread of poisonous violent extremist ideologies through modern information technologies, our limited success in preventing new conflicts, the easy availability of arms, the flow of foreign terrorist fighters across borders and heightened media attention have all contributed to creating an environment where terrorists have taken control of vast swaths of territory, resources and populations.

The result is a vortex of protracted conflicts, ungoverned spaces and terrorism.  

Terrorism transcends cultures and geographical boundaries.  It cannot be associated with any one religion, nationality or ethnic group.
It affects all countries.

Violent extremists and terrorists are posing a direct assault on the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and undermining efforts to maintain peace and security, foster sustainable development, promote respect for human rights and deliver vital humanitarian aid.

We are at an important juncture. We need to take tough decisions and make difficult choices, while staying true to the commitments we have made under the Strategy across all four of its pillars.

Military and security measures have their rightful place.

However, as leaders of governments and institutions, we must ensure that
our responses are fully consistent with our commitments under the United Nations Charter and international human rights law.

Protecting human rights and respecting the rule of law while countering terrorism is not only a matter of principle. It is also essential to the legitimacy and efficacy of counter-terrorist measures. When we fail to uphold the values that unite us, we end up feeding the grievances that can lead to terrorism.

As I said in my Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, we need to take a more systematic, preventive approach to address the drivers
of violent extremism. This lies at the heart of my call to Member States to develop national plans of action, with the support of the United Nations where and when requested.

Terrorists not only shed the blood of civilians, but divide and polarize our societies.

This is a leadership challenge.
We must never be ruled by fear.  We must refrain from assigning collective guilt to whole communities and religions. 

I am concerned about the growing drift in many countries and regions towards bigotry, anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, homophobia and outright racism. 

Terrorist groups are exploiting these negative trends and using them as a recruitment tool.

We have a fundamental moral duty to oppose all forms of discrimination and exclusion, and to denounce such demagoguery, which in the past has led to unspeakable horrors.

We have to build societies in which all legitimate human expressions have a place; societies that include, rather than exclude.

The only responsible answer to provocation and incitement is shared resolve to uphold universal values.  The United Nations General Assembly is the forum to forge and reinforce a global consensus in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

In the face of the rapidly evolving global nature of the threat, the basic tenets of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy are even more relevant than they were 10 years ago. Now, more than ever, we need strong and effective international cooperation at the bilateral, regional, interregional and global levels, and balanced implementation across all four pillars.

The time has come to fully and comprehensively implement the Global Strategy. I therefore hope that the focus will be on implementing
the commitments we have made through collective action.

While Member States bear the primary responsibility for the implementation of the Global Strategy, the UN System stands ready to provide strong, well-coordinated support, particularly through its Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which has the main responsibility for coordination and coherence in this critical area.

If we want to make real and sustained impact on the ground, we will need to mobilize the necessary resources.

However, apart from a generous contribution from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, few new resources have been provided to the United Nations, while demand has risen exponentially.  No amount of coordination by the United Nations can make an impact without sufficient resources.

I would like to conclude by remembering the thousands of victims of terrorism over the past ten years. The pain, suffering and loss of so many men, women and children peacefully going about their lives is a tragedy
for us all.

We have an urgent moral duty to do all we can to prevent and end this carnage.

Taking collective preventive action against terrorism, in the spirit of our United Nations Charter, is the only way to secure peace and prosperity for succeeding generations. 

In closing, I appeal to you to show the world your resolve by acting in unison and adopting a resolution by consensus.

Thank you.