Warning Terrorist Threat Spreading to Increasing Number of Countries, Security Council Presidential Statement Stresses Need for Comprehensive, Consistent Counter-Strategy
Speakers Urge Addressing Drivers of Radicalization, Technology Use by Terrorists,
Voice Concern Over Counter-Terrorism Steps Being Employed to Repress Human Rights
States must address the drivers of radicalization and counter terrorist use of technology, senior United Nations officials told the Security Council today, as members highlighted the need for a consistent, comprehensive approach to tackle the transnational threat posed by terrorism before adopting a presidential statement on the matter.
Through that text (to be issued as document S/PRST/2022/7), the 15-nation organ emphasized that the threat of terrorism is affecting an increasing number of Member States across most regions, which may exacerbate conflicts and undermine affected States’ security, stability, governance and socioeconomic development.
The Council reaffirmed that Member States must ensure that any measures taken to counter terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, noting that failure to do so contributes to increased radicalization and fosters a sense of impunity. Further, it underscored the importance of whole-of-Government and whole-of-society approaches, along with the need to promote tolerance and coexistence to counter terrorist narratives.
Through the statement, the Council also expressed concern over the threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters, terrorist financing, the movement of terrorist groups and organized crime, highlighting Member States’ obligations to address these issues. Further, it urged Member States, pursuant to resolution 2664 (2022), to take into account the potential effects that measures designed to counter terrorist financing may have on exclusively humanitarian activities.
Additionally, the Council underlined the need to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, recognizing that a comprehensive approach to defeating terrorism requires national, regional, subregional and multilateral action. It also expressed concern over the increased use of information and communications technologies for terrorist purposes, recognizing the need to strengthen cooperation in countering the same.
At the outset of the meeting, Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, briefed the Council that, despite leadership losses by Al-Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), such groups and their affiliates have continued to exploit instability, fragility and conflict to advance their agendas — particularly in the Sahel and West, Central and Southern Africa. Further, he expressed concern that the de facto authorities in Afghanistan have failed to sever long-standing ties with terrorist groups sheltering in that country despite the Council’s demands.
Against that backdrop, he stressed that there is no better and more-efficient remedy to the threat posed by terrorism than prevention, noting that history demonstrates the limits of merely responding to imminent or actual terrorist acts without addressing the conditions that lead to them. He therefore urged that counter-terrorism measures be employed in tandem with initiatives to address the drivers of marginalization, exclusion, inequality, injustice and lack of opportunity.
Weixiong Chen, Acting Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, then told the Council that, as ISIL/Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their affiliates become increasingly decentralized, the threat has become diffuse and diverse in nature. Further, such groups have forged strong links across borders and built robust networks, exploiting virtual platforms to exchange views, radicalize, recruit and support one another both financially and operationally. He stressed, therefore, that criminal-justice actors have a critical role to play in addressing these threats in a meaningful manner, also detailing the Committee’s efforts to help Member States counter terrorists’ use of new and emerging technologies.
Anjali Vijay Kulthe, Nursing Officer at the Cama and Albless Hospital in Mumbai and a survivor of the 26 November 2008 terror attack in that city, recounted her experience of saving the lives of 20 pregnant women and their unborn babies as armed terrorists stormed the antenatal care unit in which she was working at the time. Recalling her subsequent testimony against the lone surviving terrorist, she said that his sense of victory still haunts her today. She emphasized that the sponsors of the 26 November attacks remain free even after 14 years have passed, calling on the Council to bring the sponsors to justice and give closure to the victims’ families.
In the ensuing debate, many Council members underlined the need to counter terrorism through a comprehensive response that addresses the root causes of the phenomenon — in effect, fighting terrorism through development. Steps must also be taken to counter terrorist use of technology, they said. Members also expressed concern over the misuse of counter-terrorism measures to repress human rights and freedoms, while others underscored the need for States to take a consistent approach when tackling this threat.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister for External Affairs of India, underlined the need to address double standards, as the same criteria are not applied when sanctioning and prosecuting terrorists. Sometimes, it seems, the ownership of terrorism is more important than its perpetration or its consequences. He added that combating threats arising from the misuse of new and emerging technology is likely to be the next frontier in countering terrorism.
Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister for Culture and Youth of the United Arab Emirates, echoed those points, stressing that the Council cannot focus on certain terrorist groups to the exclusion of others as the geographical scope of terrorism is expanding. Terrorist groups have proven their ability to exploit technological advances, she noted, calling for terrorism in all its forms to be addressed through comprehensive, multilateral strategies that focus on prevention.
Ramses Cleland, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, also underscored that differential treatment of terrorist groups undermines efforts to combat terrorism. Spotlighting the need to leverage technology against cyberterrorism, he reported that Ghana’s national strategy for prevention and suppression of terrorism places special attention on protecting human rights while combating terrorism.
On that point, Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, said that respect for human rights and the rule of law are vital to preventing the growth of radicalism and extremism. Underscoring that the most-effective way to counter terrorism is to prevent it, he said that, unless the Council addresses the root causes of the phenomenon, it will forever be addressing the same security challenges. The Council must heed the calls of its African partners, act on the clear link between climate change and instability, and partner seriously with civil society, he added.
Also speaking were high-level officials of the United States, United Kingdom and Kenya, along with representatives of Norway, France, Albania, China, Russian Federation, Mexico, Brazil and Gabon.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 12:33 p.m.
VLADIMIR VORONKOV, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, said that despite leadership losses by Al-Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), terrorism has become more prevalent and geographically widespread. In recent years, such terrorist groups and their affiliates have continued to exploit instability, fragility and conflict to advance their agendas, particularly in the Sahel and West, Central and Southern Africa. In Afghanistan, the sustained presence of terrorist groups continues to pose serious threats to the region and beyond, and he expressed concern that the de facto authorities have failed to sever long-standing ties with terrorist groups sheltering in that country despite the Council’s demands. He pointed out that terrorist groups in these and other contexts often adapt opportunistically, partly by resorting to illicit financing methods and other criminal activity. Other groups have morphed into or grafted themselves onto insurgencies that occupy territory and purport to assume State responsibilities.
He went on to express concern over the way terrorist groups misuse and abuse technology to advance their agendas, including the use of online video games and adjacent platforms to recruit, propagandize, communicate and even train for terrorist acts. He also expressed concern over the rise in terrorist attacks based on xenophobia, racism and other forms of intolerance, as well as those carried out in the name of religion or belief. Reiterating the Secretary-General’s call for the development and implementation of national plans to address this threat, he outlined several principles to guide collective counter-terrorism action going forward. He stressed that there is no better and more-efficient remedy to the threat posed by terrorism than prevention, noting that history demonstrates the limits of focusing on the need for security forces to respond to imminent or actual terrorist acts without addressing the conditions that lead to them.
He therefore urged that counter-terrorism measures be employed in tandem with initiatives to address the drivers of marginalization, exclusion, inequality, injustice and lack of opportunity. Second, he said that addressing complex conditions driving terrorism requires multifaceted, integrated responses, and that “whole-of-society” approaches should be community-based and conflict- and gender-sensitive. Further, human rights must be at the centre of effective counter-terrorism responses and regional arrangements should be leveraged, as the threat posed by terrorism is transnational and regional-based approaches offer an opportunity to tailor responses to specific contexts. On that point, he pointed out that the Office of Counter-Terrorism is co-organizing a summit on counter-terrorism in Africa with Nigeria. This summit presents an important opportunity for considering how the United Nations can further support counter-terrorism efforts on the continent, he added.
WEIXIONG CHEN, Acting Executive Director, Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, noting a continuously evolving terrorist landscape, said terrorist groups such as Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their affiliates continue to recalibrate their strategic and operational methods. With those groups and cells becoming more locally based and decentralized, the threat has become diffuse and diverse in nature. Away from their traditional theatres, battlefields have emerged in the Sahel, in West, East, Southern and Central Africa and in parts of Asia. Meanwhile, Da’esh persists in its attempts to regroup in its traditional geographic centre. Noting an increase in threats from terrorism based on xenophobia, racism and other forms of intolerance, he said that those groups have become more transnational in nature. They have forged strong links across borders and built robust networks, exploiting virtual platforms where they exchange views, radicalize others into terrorism, recruit and support one another financially and operationally. Against this background, criminal justice actors have a critical role to play in addressing those threats in a meaningful manner.
Terrorists continue to exploit online platforms, including gaming platforms, to recruit and radicalize, raise funds, plan and coordinate operations, and disseminate propaganda, he said, noting that the Counter-Terrorism Committee held a special meeting in India on 28 and 29 October on countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes. That meeting focused on three key areas: the Internet, including social media platforms and related online spaces; countering terrorism financing and new payment technologies; and misuse of unmanned aerial systems. It brought to the forefront overarching considerations of a “One-UN” approach, upholding human rights, the role of civil society, and honouring the victims of terrorism. At the same time, the Committee adopted the Delhi Declaration to reaffirm its commitment to work with Member States in achieving full implementation of all relevant Council resolutions on terrorism. Going forward, the Executive Directorate will support the Committee in developing a set of non-binding guiding principles — consistent with international human rights law and humanitarian law — to help Member States counter the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes. Underscoring the importance of working with a broad range of stakeholders and partners, he said the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture also provides a useful platform for the Executive Directorate to collaborate with the Office of Counter-Terrorism and other Global Compact entities. The Executive Directorate also looks forward to further collaborating with Member States, international and regional organizations, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders in such endeavours, he said.
ANJALI VIJAY KULTHE, Nursing Officer at the Cama and Albless Hospital in Mumbai and a survivor of the 26 November Mumbai terror attack, recalled that on 26 November 2008 she carried out a night shift in the antenatal care unit, with 20 pregnant women under her care. An hour after her shift had started, she was informed that the city’s main railway station — around a mile away from the hospital — had been stormed by terrorists, and was urged to prepare for emergency. In the meantime, she heard gunshots and witnessed two people with guns enter the hospital firing gunshots. One of her helpers was wounded. As she rushed towards the ward on the first floor, she saw the same two terrorists shooting hospital security guards, who fell on the floor, their bodies heavily bleeding. Despite fear, she gathered courage and rushed to the first floor, closed the main iron door and shifted all her patients to the pantry to protect them from the firing. As the terrorists clashed with police officers, she heard continuous gunshots and experienced heavy shocks from grenade explosions.
Thinking that “death is inevitable in this life! Why not die valiantly?”, she consoled her petrified patients in advanced stages of pregnancy, fearing that some would go into labour due to fear-induced high blood pressure. Suddenly, one patient went into labour. “I felt my uniform gave me courage, and my patience for nursing gave me clarity of thought,” she recalled, as she escorted the patient — scared and reluctant to come — to the pregnancy ward, where a healthy baby was born. She spent the entire night in complete darkness with her 19 patients locked up in rooms. When the police arrived the next morning, the victims could hardly believe they had survived. “While the terrorists were killing human beings like insects, I am happy that I was able to save the lives of 20 pregnant women and their unborn babies,” she said.
One month after the terrorist attack, she was summoned by authorities to identify the lone surviving terrorist, Ajmad Kasab. Despite her family’s concern about reprisals related to her testimony, she decided to look at and recognized the perpetrator, whose sense of victory still haunts her today. “Kasab did not have an iota of remorse; no shame, no guilt,” she said, emphasizing that the victims of the 26 November Mumbai attacks continue to wait for justice, as the sponsors of the attacks remain free even after 14 years. She thus called on the Council to bring the sponsors to justice and give closure to the victims’ families.
SUBRAHMANYAM JAISHANKAR, Minister for External Affairs of India, Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, saying that his country faced the horrors of cross-border terrorism long before the world took serious note of it. Today’s meeting is part of India’s efforts in the Council to reinvigorate its counter-terrorism agenda, he said. While groups such as Al-Qaida, Da’esh, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab and their affiliates have expanded, it must not be forgotten that old habits and established networks are still alive, especially in South Asia. The world may no longer be willing to buy the justifications and cover-ups of terror financing and State culpability, he said, adding that the question now arises as to the responsibilities of the State from whose soil such actions are planned, supported and perpetuated. The integrity and accountability of multilateral counter-terror mechanisms and their working methods are sometimes opaque and sometimes driven by agendas and at times, pushed without evidence. Another challenge is addressing double standards, as the same criteria are not applied when sanctioning and prosecuting terrorists. It would seem sometimes that the ownership of terrorism is more important than its perpetration or its consequences. Countering threats from the misuse of new and emerging technologies by terrorists is likely to be the next frontier, he added. In conclusion, referring to the Mumbai and New Delhi special meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, he hoped that the Council would build on the Delhi Declaration.
SIMON COVENEY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, expressing his sadness and shock over the death of an Irish peacekeeper and injuries to three others in Lebanon on 14 December, said that the most effective way to counter terrorism is to prevent it. Unless the Council addresses root causes, it will be addressing the same security challenges over and over again. Respect for human rights and the rule of law are vital to prevent the growth of radicalism and extremism, but too often, States misuse counter-terrorism measures to repress human rights and freedoms, he said. The Council must heed the calls of its African partners, act on the clear link between climate change and instability, and partner seriously with civil society. Sanctions are a critical tool to hold terrorists accountable, but they must be targeted and effective, he said, noting the humanitarian carve-out in Council resolution 2664 (2022). Reflecting on Ireland’s term on the Council, he called for reform and political will. Reform alone, however, will not make multilateralism work, as that responsibility rests with Member States, he said.
NOURA BINT MOHAMMED AL KAABI, Minister of Culture and Youth of the United Arab Emirates, said that the geographical scope of terrorism is expanding and it is no longer enough for the Council to focus on certain terrorist groups to the exclusion of others. It is imperative to harness all the tools available to the Council, including sanctions committees, to curb the activities of terrorist groups. Additionally, regional and local efforts must be supported, and coordination with actors, including women and youth, intensified. Terrorist groups have proven their ability to exploit technological advances, including drones and digital currencies, she added, calling for terrorism in all its forms to be addressed through comprehensive and multilateral strategies that focus on prevention. Terrorism will not be eradicated without exposing extremist ideologies that fuel violence and hatred, she added. As Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee in 2023, the United Arab Emirates will build on achievements made during India’s presidency and continue to cooperate with colleagues so that the Committee can implement its mandate.
VICTORIA NULAND, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs of the United States, stressed the need to jointly address under- and un-governed spaces susceptible to terrorist control, desperate conditions conducive to recruitment, sources of illicit financing and perverse ideologies spreading online and across borders. She also spotlighted an estimated 320 per cent increase in racial or ethnically motivated violence over recent years, with worrying new transatlantic links among groups. New members are being recruited online through social media platforms, and she underscored the need to build shared capacity to better detect, degrade and respond to these new threats. She also said that the Council can do more in the fight against Al-Qaida and ISIL/Da’esh by supporting the listing of all affiliates, leaders and key supporters of such groups so those individuals face global asset freezes, travel bans and arms embargoes. Unfortunately, the relevant Committees only agreed to designate one entity and one individual in 2022 due to an array of holds stemming from unrelated political fights. She went on to underscore that counter-terrorism efforts cannot succeed through sheer force and hard security measures alone; rather, States must support Governments’ ability to deliver for their citizens, which is key to breaking the cycle of violent extremism.
TARIQ AHMAD, Minister of State for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, urged all Member States to address the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism using a whole-of-society approach that includes working with communities and faith leaders to eradicate the perverse ideologies that drive terrorist crimes. In that regard, the United Kingdom is working with partners to understand how the United Nations can better incorporate civil society perspectives into its work. As well, policy and programming should understand and address the gender dynamics of terrorism, he said, noting that two weeks ago, the United Kingdom hosted the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict conference, where Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad and many other survivors of sexual violence spoke about the need for Governments to do more to end those atrocities. Member States must ensure women are involved in — and lead — work to develop strategies to prevent and counter violent extremism and terrorism, he said, adding that those strategies must address activity that specifically targets women as potential perpetrators, victims and influencers in communities. The Council has an obligation under international law to protect and promote human rights and States must act within the bounds of international law when countering terrorism, he said.
ABRAHAM KORIR SING’OEI (Kenya), noting the dangerous spread of terrorist groups in Africa, said that counter-terrorism is too kinetic and narrowly technical. The United Nations and Member States must therefore add political, economic and social tools to their efforts. They must also make it clear that terrorism will not offer a path to political legitimacy. More broadly, counter-terrorism must be linked to State and civil efforts to deal with root causes, including political exclusion, marginalization, economic inopportunity and weak governance. For its part, the Council must ensure that its full weight is brought to bear in equal measure and without discrimination by ending its inconsistent and opaque de facto practice of classifying terrorists. At the technical level, there must be enhanced cooperation for information-sharing, as well as collaboration on capacity building. Partnerships with Internet providers and social media organizations can buttress the ability and efforts of national authorities to detect and disrupt online terrorism activities, he said, adding that States must also be supported in developing measures and resources to counter technologies utilized by terrorists.
RAMSES CLELAND, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, underscored that differential treatment of terrorist groups would undermine efforts to combat terrorism in a balanced manner. Spotlighting the need to leverage technology against cyberterrorism and take measures to narrow the scope for technology used in deploying terrorist acts, he welcomed the Delhi Declaration and emphasized that human rights must be at the centre of such efforts. Furthermore, he called for drying up the sources of funding emanating from illicit trade in natural resources and illegal taxation imposed on terrorist-controlled territories. Ghana has adopted a whole-of-society approach and undertaken measures for institutional development, he added, spotlighting cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union and the United Nations on regional-led counter-insurgency operations and cross-regional intelligence-sharing. In this regard, he urged support for regional mechanisms, including the Accra Initiative. Ghana’s national strategy for prevention and suppression of terrorism places special attention on the protection of human rights in combating terrorism, he stressed.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said that in the absence of an internationally agreed definition of terrorism, some Governments have deployed counter-terrorism measures which violate a broad range of rights. Those measures are also used to target political opposition, thereby shrinking civic space. At times, they also have unintended consequences for humanitarian action. Counter-terrorism approaches must be holistic and form part of broader political strategies that are preventative, conflict-sensitive, gender-responsive and regionally integrated, she said. Addressing root causes through the promotion of the rule of law, sustainable development and human rights is essential. Further, human rights must be respected at all times, including in the context of counter-terrorism, she said, adding that United Nations counter-terrorism bodies should continue to mainstream human rights considerations across their work.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said that the terrorist threat is expanding and diversifying, with Al-Qaida and Da’esh reconfiguring in the Sahel and extending towards the Gulf of Guinea, Central and Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa. In the Levant, the territorial defeat of Da’esh cannot lead the Council to lower its guard, he said, adding that recent developments in Afghanistan confirm fears that terrorist groups may once again find refuge there. The COVID‑19 pandemic has also highlighted the vulnerability of societies to new and emerging manifestations, including politically and ideologically motivated terrorism. The Council’s means must evolve accordingly, he said, calling for stronger international cooperation and the implementation of the Financial Action Task Force’s recommendations. To be fully effective, the fight against terrorism must be part of a comprehensive response that includes development assistance and strengthened governance, he said, adding that the Council must respond to the fundamental challenges of climate change, links between terrorism and resource trafficking and crimes affecting the environment.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said terrorism remains a serious threat to global peace and security, and the international community must respond decisively in a joint, coordinated manner. Any act of terrorism, no matter by whom or where, is unjustifiable, he said, adding that terror represents an affront to all humanity and its values. Terrorism continues to thrive in conflict areas, where poverty and hopelessness rule, and inequality, xenophobia, and injustice often serve as fertile grounds for terrorism to grow. The ability of terrorist groups to attack internationally, brainwash new recruits and stay ahead of counter-terrorist measures point to the troubling reality that current counter-terrorism measures are insufficient. Cyberdefence must be a priority for national security, as it is used by terrorists, be they State or non-State actors. The international community must keep on top of the agenda by working together to ensure appropriate responses fit for these times and the digital age. Repressive policies have only had adverse effects, he said, stressing that counter-terrorism efforts become counter-productive when used to restrict rights, target minorities, or target populations for control. Council unity on the nature of the threat and the means to deal with it is vital for collective success and should not become a victim to narrow interests, he said. War begins in the minds of men, and this is where the Council needs to work to build a comprehensive counter-terrorist strategy.
ZHANG JUN (China) said that the prevalence of terrorism, the complexity of organizational networks and the frequent movement of terrorists are beyond any country’s capacity to tackle alone, underscoring that all countries must recognize they are part of a community of shared security. However, certain countries have backpedalled on terrorism in recent years, and he stressed that politicizing or pursuing a selective approach to counter-terrorism issues “will ultimately hurt oneself and others”. In the face of the common threat posed by terrorism, all parties should abandon political calculations and ideological biases; instead, they should support the United Nations central coordinating role and expedite negotiation of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. He went on to note that, in recent years, the direct threat posed by terrorism to developed countries has decreased, which has led to a relative decline in counter-terrorism investment and, consequently, a decline in global counter-terrorism resources. Africa, the Middle East and Asia face the most-direct terrorist threats and, therefore, urgently require upgraded counter-terrorism capacities. Adding that military means alone cannot eradicate terrorism, he urged the international community to help countries improve their humanitarian situations to prevent terrorist forces from “feeding on instability”.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) noted that eradicating the phenomenon of terrorism would be impossible as long as terrorists are used for geopolitical purposes, being separated into "good", "bad" and "not too bad". Recalling that the Russian Federation witnessed this approach in the counter-terrorism operation on its territory in the 1990s and in fighting ISIL/Da’esh in Syria, he pointed out that international terrorists found sponsors for themselves in third countries, who provided them shelter and granted them political refugee status. Attempts were made to present them as opposition members or humanitarians. Referring to the Secretary-General’s report, he drew attention to the regional nature of terrorist attacks, localized in the countries of Western and Eastern Europe, North America, Australia and Oceania, noting that the root causes of the phenomenon need to be determined. Pointing out attempts to “pack” the Council’s counter-terrorism documents with human rights dimensions, including gender, he said that such statements are made for the sake of shifting the focus away from “one’s own unsavoury record”. Turning to the Guantánamo Bay prison, he called it a striking example of human rights violations in countering terrorism.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said terrorism must be fought through development, the creation of opportunities, employment, education, improved living conditions, the guarantee of the full enjoyment of human rights and gender equality. As well, the impact of notions of masculinity must be included in strategies to prevent terrorism. Voicing concern that legitimate defence continues to be invoked to use force against non-State actors in a third country according to the so-called “unwilling and unable doctrine”, he pointed out that those interpretations go beyond the provisions of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. It is also necessary to comply with the restrictions on access to small arms and light weapons, he said, noting that those arms are frequently used in acts of terrorism. All of these must go hand in hand with coordinated activities to strengthen national justice systems and law enforcement agencies to effectively punish, in accordance with the law, the perpetrators of criminal acts, in full compliance with the norms of due process. Noting the absence of an internationally agreed definition of terrorism as a serious problem, he said the negotiation of a convention on international terrorism that would give legal certainty to this phenomenon and put an end to unilateral designations should be a priority.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) reiterated that there is no justification for terrorist acts. The lack of an internationally agreed upon definition, he noted, weakens the ability to cope, affects the cohesion of global efforts and can lead to double standards. Member States must overcome the stalemate in the Sixth Committee (Legal) by working towards the adoption of a comprehensive convention. Counter-terrorism efforts, he continued, must be fully compliant with international law, guarantee respect for the freedom of association and expression and right to privacy, provide attention to victims and enforce standards for due process. Such efforts must also ensure that sanction regimes do not affect vulnerable populations, worsen food crises or hinder humanitarian assistance. On terrorism and transnational organized crimes, he stressed that there are no automatic linkages. As prevention must be central to any counter-terrorism strategy, States must promote sustainable development on an equitable basis, the rule of law and access to justice. They must also work towards eliminating discrimination and stigmatization, enhance international cooperation and technical assistance and strengthen national capacities. He then highlighted the potential of technology to strengthen States’ abilities to prevent and combat terrorism while underscoring the need for counter-terrorism strategies to be inclusive.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said terrorist networks are constantly changing and are demonstrating their resilience despite the fact that the international community is mobilizing against them. Governments are increasingly under pressure from populations who are frustrated by growing levels of insecurity, severely testing countries and destabilizing entire regions. All of the five regions of Africa have had their own shares of victims, he said, stressing that this cross-border threat is formidable and no Government can fight it alone. A coordinated national, regional and global action is therefore key, based on the principle of multilateralism. The measures undertaken within the binding normative framework on combating terrorism are welcome, but more needs to be done. The current polarization of the world must not weaken multilateralism, as terrorist groups and their affiliates could benefit from this, he warned, calling for a holistic approach that fully takes into account economic situations and zero tolerance of any form of violent terrorism and/or extremism. He called for impartiality and protection from any form of politicization. The Accra Initiative, which includes benchmark approaches to combat terrorism, should be adopted consistently. Formation of an international convention against terrorism would be tangible proof of how seriously the international community is taking this issue, he stressed.