Security Council: Counter-terrorism

Note: A complete summary of today’s Security Council meeting will be made available after its conclusion.


ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that terrorism – the root and result of many of the problems under discussion by the Security Council – is tightening its grip by exploiting instability in political, economic and security systems and by preying on the fears and vulnerabilities of people facing grinding poverty, hunger and famine. Terrorist groups, trading in the “timeless evils” of discrimination that target specific groups, religions and ethnicities, are also engaging in criminal activities, including money-laundering, illegal mining and the trafficking of arms, drugs, precious minerals and human beings. They subject women and girls to sexual and gender-based violence and flout or ignore the rule of law – from international human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law to the values embedded in the Charter of the United Nations.

“No age, no culture, no religion, no nationality and no region are immune,” he said, voicing particular concern over the situation in Africa. Despair, poverty, hunger, lack of basic services, unemployment, and unconstitutional changes in Government continue to lay fertile ground for the expansion of terrorist groups across the continent. Sounding the alarm at the gains terrorist groups are making in the Sahel and elsewhere, he reported that fighters, funds, and weapons are increasingly flowing between regions and across Africa. Moreover, the online world provides a global platform to spread violent ideologies even further.

“Just as terrorism drives people apart, countering it can bring countries together,” he declared, spotlighting regional counter-terrorism initiatives across Africa, from joint efforts in the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin and Mozambique to the recent Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on terrorism and unconstitutional changes of Government. He also affirmed United Nations support in fighting the menace, highlighting the Council’s technical assistance and support for sanction regimes, as well as the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s 65 assessment visits.

Above all, he underlined the importance of the Organization’s close collaboration with the African Union and regional and subregional African organizations. Tailored assistance to African Member States includes prevention, legal assistance, investigations, prosecutions, reintegration and rehabilitation, and human-rights protection. Against this backdrop, he cited the eighth review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in June as a critical opportunity to tackle structural conditions that create fertile ground for terror to spread.

However, the fight against terrorism will never succeed if the same denial and destruction of human rights is perpetuated, he continued, adding that counter-terrorism efforts that are solely security-focused rather than human-rights-based can inadvertently increase marginalization and exclusion. In this context, the proposed New Agenda for Peace will set out a holistic approach to building more peaceful societies in which terror and violent extremism have no home. It will do so through prevention, inclusion and by placing human rights and the rule of law at the core of the Organization’s work. “At every step, we commit to upholding the essential rights and dignity of terrorism’s victims and survivors, supporting and helping to heal those who have been harmed and displaced,” he asserted.

AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union, said counter-terrorism efforts in Africa require a strong and global response. Noting that terrorism and violent extremism drive fear and human displacement on a massive scale, he said that, while those phenomena have been around a long time, they have “really exploded in Africa” in recent years. The terrorist contingent continues broadening in almost all parts of the continent, he reported.

Voicing the African Union’s commitment to its Road Map to “Silence the Guns by 2030”, he said terrorism is seriously impacting the socioeconomic conditions of countries and entire regions alike. Several recent high-level conferences in Africa have focused on the scourge of terrorism on the one hand, and the resurgence of unconstitutional changes in Government on the other hand. Against that backdrop, the African Union has created the Ministerial Committee on Terrorism to support its member States and regional entities in those arenas.

He also noted the deployment of several successful peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the African Union, including the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Multinational Joint Force in the Lake Chad Basin. Each have succeeded in reducing armed group activities and protecting the local populations. He also welcomed the decision by the East African Community to deploy a force to the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Several regional frameworks are also now in place to support such counter-terrorism efforts, he said, citing the Djibouti Process, Accra initiative and others.

While those frameworks and initiatives have had positive impacts, they require greater support and commitments, he continued. Underscoring the importance of prevention, he called on the Council to redouble its efforts and strengthen cooperation with the African Union, pointing out that such collaboration is less costly in the long term. He also emphasized the need to mobilize the sustained, predictable funds needed for African Union-led missions to prevent and fight terrorism. As well, the United Nations Action Plan should be implemented in a more effective and decentralized manner, he added.

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