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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland+ and Serbia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

At the outset please let me thank the Togolese Presidency, and in particular the President of Togo, for organising today’s debate on the challenges that terrorism poses to peace and security in Africa. I would also like to thank the Secretary General for his briefing.

Indeed, international terrorism constitutes a very significant threat to peace and security in many parts of the world, and regrettably this is also valid for Africa.

The increasingly international and even global nature of the terrorist threat means no continent is spared. Spill over effects between countries and continents are now a reality. This is also true for Africa and Europe.

While the effort to prevent and counter terrorism starts at the national level, only regional co-operation, and in particular co-operation between regions in a global context, will have the chance of sustainable success.

Mr President,

At the global level, the European Union fully supports the high priority given to the fight against international terrorism by the United Nations. We stand fully behind the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and support the work carried out by the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, UNSC Committees 1267/1989, 1373 and 1540, Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force as well as its Counter-Terrorism Centre.

As we are confronted by a multi-dimensional and complex challenge, our response must be comprehensive, based on a combination of support for security, development and governance. The UN has a crucial role to play in harnessing regional efforts in a coordinated, global framework. I would also like to mention in this context the important role of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum in mobilising and channelling international efforts globally as well as in specific regions.   

Mr President,

Before turning to the specific situation in Africa, I would like to take this opportunity to enumerate the five conditions, which in the European experience are required for successful counter-terrorism efforts:

First, global counter-terrorism efforts must be underpinned by solid efforts at regional level, also including action to stop vulnerable individuals from being drawn into terrorism and conflict. Every region needs to fully commit to addressing this problem, and as far as possible take the lead in responding to it. Regional and sub-regional organisations need to engage actively.

We welcome in this regard the steps taken by the African Union, notably the AU Plan of Action on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, and the appointment in 2010 of Francisco Madeira as the AU Special Representative for Counter-Terrorism Co-operation.

We also welcome the recent adoption of a far-reaching Counter Terrorism strategy by ECOWAS, and we encourage other sub-regional organisations in Africa to follow-suit. The European Union adopted its own counter-terrorism strategy in 2005.

Secondly, to be successful, counter-terrorism efforts need to address not only the symptoms but also the root causes that create the environment that enables terrorist organisations to develop.

Especially conducive circumstances are extreme poverty, inequalities, lack of development, economic opportunities as well as basic social services; the lack of governance or even state structures altogether; as well as violence and violations of human rights. Furthermore, the trafficking of drugs, weapons, persons and other types of organised crime often compounds the terrorist threat. The current situation in the Sahel region is a good illustration of how terrorist organisations participate, benefit and even organise trafficking, kidnapping and other criminal activities.

Thirdly, we need to pay due attention to risks related to radicalisation. While specific anti-radicalisation actions, in particular through education, can have a positive effect, they need to be accompanied by development support addressing the root causes of radicalisation.

Fourthly, we cannot separate counter-terrorism efforts from support to good governance in the regions affected by terrorism. Steps to end the use of torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings will stifle terrorist recruitment. Equally, steps to enhance local governance and the democratic participation of local communities will have beneficial effects, as well a strenuous fight against corruption and a strengthened, reformed and independent judiciary.

Finally, the European experience of counter-terrorism has shown the paramount importance of keeping the fight against terrorism solidly within the bounds of the rule of law, including international human rights law, refugee law and humanitarian law. Violations of these laws will play in the hands of terrorist organisations.

Mr. President,

The European Union is stepping up its support for counter-terrorism and development efforts in West Africa and the Sahel as well in as in the Horn of Africa.

The EU in 2011 adopted its pioneering Security and Development Strategy for the Sahel. Counter-terrorism is a key theme in this strategy, interwoven with efforts to help the countries in the region consolidate, and where required re-establish, state authority, the rule of law and good governance across their territories. These efforts are key priorities for the EU’s development programmes in the region, which we implement in partnership with the respective governments. Allow me to salute the efforts made in the region to draw up and implement national counter-terrorism and stabilisation strategies.

We are firmly committed to enhance the implementation of the EU Sahel strategy in the region, not only in Mauritania, Mali and Niger, but also in neighbouring countries including Chad, Burkina Faso and Senegal. Let me also mention the tireless efforts of the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove to improve co-ordination in the broader region, and that European Union is looking at ways in which to support Nigeria in countering Boko Haram, whose renewed attacks are a matter of concern.

To strengthen the capability of national law enforcement structures to fight drug trafficking and terrorism, the EU in 2012 launched EUCAP SAHEL, a training and capacity building mission based in Niger to train internal security forces and reinforce regional coordination with Mali and Mauritania. We also finalising plans to deploy EUBAM Libya, a new mission focused on reinforcing border control in Libya.  

The crisis in Mali has further accelerated the EU’s engagement in this region. The European Union on 2 April launched EUTM Mali, a new mission to train the Malian army. This mission will work hand in hand with the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping operation.

Please allow me to mention in this context also the International Mali Donors Conference that the Presidents of Mali, France and the European Union are hosting in Brussels on Wednesday this week. We are grateful for the significant high-level participation from the region at this conference.

In this context, I would also like to express our full support for the overall coordinating role of the United Nations in Mali, in line with UN Security Resolution 2100, as well as our determination to work closely and effectively with the Government of Mali as well as with regional and international partners, in particular the UN family, the African Union and ECOWAS in this joint effort. 

Mr. President,

The other focal point for EU counter-terrorism support in Africa is Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa region.

Since the adoption of the its Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa in 2011, the European Union has stepped up its involvement in the efforts to re-establish Somalian state authority and territorial control, after many years of lawlessness and significant terrorist and piracy activity across the region.

In line with a comprehensive approach, the European Union is linking political, security-related and development support. In the security field, the EU at present has three on-going crisis management missions:

–         EUTM Somalia, which contributes to the training of Somali security forces, and is in the process of moving from Uganda to Somalia;

–         EUNAVFOR ATALANTA, which contributes to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast,

–         EUCAP NESTOR, which supports the judiciary, police and coast guards in Somalia and other countries of the region.

The EU also continues to provide significant financial support through the African Peace Facility to AMISOM, whose efforts (and sacrifices) have been crucial in the still on-going extension of state authority across the territory of Somalia.

In order to strengthen the effectiveness of its counter-terrorism efforts in the region, the European Union on 31 January 2013 adopted the EU Counter Terrorism Action Plan for the Horn of Africa. This Action Plans sets out a series of steps the European Union can take to intensify its efforts, in a comprehensive manner and in close co-operation with governments and regional and international partners. Particular emphasis is placed on countering terrorist financing. The EU will also continue to play an active role in the GCTF, in particular in its role as co-chair with Turkey of the GCTF working group on the Horn of Africa.

Finally, let me mention that the European Union is also the initiative of stepping up the mobilisation and coordination of international support for Somalia, and is hosting a major international conference in this regard in Brussels on 16 September.  

Mr. President,

While the recent progress in Somalia is encouraging, the scourge of terrorism in Africa is far from defeated. The recent crisis in Mali and the persistence of weak governance structures in several regions of Africa call for increased regional and international efforts. Comprehensive preventative strategies are key to countering the process of and thereby reducing the likelihood of terrorist groups developing the ability to plot attacks. Further attention and survey resources should be given to effectively examining and addressing the connections between terrorism and transnational organized crime. We need to be vigilant so that terrorist organisations do not exploit the positive political changes in North Africa.

The lead for these efforts lies clearly with African governments and African regional and sub-regional organisations. For its part, the European Union will continue to develop its support for their efforts to build national and regional counter-terrorism strategies and capacities, including work to counter the process of radicalisation; in line with the comprehensive approach addressing poverty, development, governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights and international law.

I thank you. 


* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

+ Iceland continues to be a member of EFTA and the European Economic Area.


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