12 October 2015, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by Ms. Eglantine Cujo, Legal Adviser, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Sixth Committee on agenda item 108 on “Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism”
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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
The recent attacks carried out by terrorist groups and individuals in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia underline once again that we are not free from the scourge of terrorism. The ISIL/Da’esh uprising poses a threat to peace and security that goes beyond Syria, Iraq and the Middle East region.
The European Union is appalled by, and firmly condemns, the indiscriminate killings and human rights abuses and, where applicable, violations of international humanitarian law, perpetrated by this and other terrorist organizations, in particular against religious and ethnic minorities and persons in vulnerable situations. The sexual violence committed as a tactics of war and to spread terror is of particular concern. We also condemn the destruction of cultural heritage. It is imperative to ensure justice for the survivors and their families and accountability for the perpetrators of all these crimes.
More than ever, the international community must respond jointly by condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We must redouble our efforts to work together in the framework of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, on the occasion of its tenth anniversary and review during the current UNGA session. The Strategy continues to be central to address the evolving trends of the terrorist phenomena in an integrated and balanced way.
The EU and its Member States pursue a criminal justice based approach to tackling terrorism while protecting human rights. We firmly believe that the rule of law and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms are essential components of the fight against terrorism. Member States must ensure that any measures taken to counter terrorism comply with international law, in particular international human rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law. In this respect, we commend the work of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) in Malta. Only through abiding by the rule of law we can ensure the legitimacy of our actions, a standing long-term solution to this scourge, as well as justice for the victims and their families.
Given the evolution of the terrorist threat that we all face, efforts to prevent radicalization and recruitment to terrorism should be taken further. We would like to thank the US for the catalysing the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda during this year and to highlight the tremendous work that has been done since the Washington CVE Summit (February 2015), including through a series of summits and events such as the one held in Rome on 29 July 2015 as well as the most recent Leaders’ Summit on 29 September 2015. These efforts should remain coordinated for a successful outcome. The EU has a long-standing action-oriented policy in this area since the prevention is a core element in the EU’s CT strategy and subsequently in EU’s strategy on counter-radicalization and recruitment to terrorism. Further, the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions on Counter Terrorism of 9 February 2015 called to step up efforts to counter radicalization and violent extremism by supporting international initiatives such as the GCTF inspired institutions: the first International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (“Hedayah”) in Abu Dhabi, the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) in Geneva, and the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) in Malta. Also, the European Union will conduct an extensive analysis of current and planned CVE research initiatives across the world and prospective opportunities for enhanced mutual engagement by the EU and other partners. The analysis will include key national and regional institutions, as well as networks and individuals engaged in CVE research and present practical recommendations on how research efforts could be improved at the regional and global level. The findings will be presented at the Global CVE Research Summit hosted at Hedayah in December 2015.
The EU sees merit in the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), together with the UN, taking the different proposals forward, in particular those of the CVE Action Agenda. The real challenge is to maintain and strengthen CVE efforts and to work and coordinate better together. In that regard we look forward to the forthcoming Action Plan to Prevent Violent Extremism to be presented by UNSG Ban Ki-moon. We hope that it will be ambitious in its reach and will mobilise all UN agencies – from security and law enforcement to humanitarian actors – to focus on tackling the strategic drivers of violent extremism. At the same time, we hope that it will contribute to the concrete implementation of the UN Global CT Strategy.
The foreign terrorist fighters’ phenomenon continues to pose unprecedented challenges for counter terrorism policies and measures that require as well global and multidisciplinary efforts. The European Union is committed to tackling the foreign terrorist fighters’ threat with the utmost determination and with a comprehensive strategic approach, as reflected in its EU CT and foreign terrorist fighters strategy for Syria and Iraq (adopted in October 2014). It fully supports the implementation of UNSCR 2178 (2014) and the GCTF Hague-Marrakech Memorandum, promoting it in bi- and multilateral outreach with our interlocutors and factoring it into our capacity building projects in partner countries. The Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), an EU wide network of 2000 practitioners, has proved particularly valuable tool in tackling foreign terrorist fighters’ phenomenon by identifying and sharing best practices in preventing radicalization. Its work will be further enhanced with the upcoming creation of the RAN Center of Excellence.
Addressing the conditions conducive to the spreading of terrorism and defeating the ideology of violent extremism also remains crucial. It will require greater cooperation among states and with international and regional organisations in sharing information and best practices. Carrying out the experiences and lessons learned from the EU’s Syria Strategic Communication Advisory Team could set an example in this regard. The potential of religious and traditional leaders is being increasingly recognized in developing alternative narratives preventing radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism at early stages. We need to also look beyond government and involve civil society, and other relevant stakeholders such as youth, women and victims of terrorism in countering the terrorist narrative. Progress in this area requires local efforts on a global scale.
Another key component of the CT strategy is countering the financing of terrorism. The EU has developed a comprehensive strategy to tackle its multiple aspects: analysis of changing threats, trends and methods, establishment of a clear legal framework and the development of best practices on implementing counterterrorism financing and anti-money laundering standards (including the FATF), as well as targeted sanctions regimes. Kidnapping for ransom, as an increasingly common tactic for some terrorist groups to raise funds for their activities, remains an important concern to address. Cooperation with the private sector, sharing of financial intelligence and information on investigations are areas where the EU and its member States concentrate efforts. In order to close the existing knowledge gap, and in line with UNSCR 2199(2015), which, inter alia, in its paragraph 16 notes with concern the generation of income by some terrorist groups through the looting and smuggling of cultural heritage items from sites in Iraq and Syria, the EU will continue to take a proactive stance against this lucrative method to raise funds by identifying best practices and integrally tracking the financial flows, including those from offshore jurisdictions. We are committed to the work carried out within the FATF to ensure that the arsenal of available tools to tackle terrorist financing is used to its full potential.
We are committed to developing a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, at home and abroad. Our engagement on counter-terrorism is growing in political importance, geographic scope and monetary terms with actions totalling 142 million Euros of ongoing projects. We will continue to engage in capacity building projects bilaterally and with regional and international partners, involving civil society and enhancing the local ownership of this process. These will continue to address law enforcement, criminal justice, security sector reform, including crisis infrastructure, crisis and emergency response, border control and aviation security, strategic communication, radicalisation, foreign terrorist fighters threats, recruitment and financing of terrorism.
Our counter-terrorism dialogues continue with countries around the world. The MENA region remains a priority with enhanced efforts to counter terrorism. The most recent CT bilateral dialogue took place in Tunisia last September. It was an opportunity to intensify our ongoing co-operation towards a future national strategy that will (1) take into account all underlying factors of terrorism and radicalisation, (2) have an inclusive approach involving civil society players and (3) comply with the constitutional principles and international standards on human rights and fundamental freedoms.
At the regional level, we are pursuing comprehensive CT strategies with our partners, in particular in North Africa, Middle East, Sahel, the Horn of Africa/Yemen, and Pakistan reflecting our long-term engagement and ensuring ownership of and participation by all concerned actors. Moreover, EU’s regional strategies and action plans (Sahel, Syria and Iraq) have been adopted and include CVE components.
In view of the growing terrorist threat, we reiterate our call for all Member States to ratify and implement all UN legal instruments to counter terrorism and we recognize Member States efforts towards making progress on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. We remain committed to its successful conclusion.
We have been actively involved in implementing criminal law provisions laid down in the UNSCR 2178(2014) on Foreign terrorist Fighters in Europe through the negotiation of an Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the prevention of terrorism. We are committed to strengthen the EU legal framework to facilitate a shared understanding of terrorist offences and this facilitate cross border information exchange and cooperation.
We have long-established cooperation with the UN through the biannual political dialogues, as well as in the field. We will continue to support CTITF, CTED, UNODC with its Terrorism Prevention Branch, and UNICRI in their work and we hope for a transparent and cooperative work in the area of CT, while avoiding duplicating efforts. As regard UN sanctions regimes, we once more commend the pioneering work of the former 1267 Committee Ombudsperson Ms. Kimberly Prost. We welcome her successor, Ms. Catherine Marchi-Uhel, and we would like to extend to her and her Office our continued full support in this new capacity. The EU remains committed to promote the strengthening of due process and fair and clear procedures in the sanctions regimes. The EU has already taken steps to improve its procedures and will continue its dialogue with the UN and UN Member States in this area.
Let me conclude by stressing that we more than ever need to remain united in our efforts to create a strong front against all forms and manifestations of terrorism and violent extremism. In our joint efforts we must ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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