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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.

1 July 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by Mrs. Joëlle Jenny, Director for Security Policy and Conflict Prevention, European External Action Service, at the General Assembly on agenda item 117 on the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy: reports of the Secretary-General

– Check against delivery –

Mr Chairman,

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

The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, 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, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

The country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, align themselves with this statement.

International terrorism continues to pose a highly significant threat to global peace and security. The past two years have further illustrated the rapid developments within the structures, personnel and techniques of violent extremists and terrorists. Terrorism has become more diffuse and pervasive. While old threats remain, new threats and vulnerabilities have developed. There is a need to adapt our response and take into consideration the implications drawn from recent terrorist attacks.

We, once again, welcome the Secretary General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE), which constitutes a clear and balanced tool to help States in their efforts to prevent violent extremism. Most of the Plan’s content reflects what the EU has been working on for more than a decade.

The EU and its Member States very much welcome the Secretary General’s strategic approach to place a strong focus on the prevention and countering of terrorism and violent extremism, particularly as we celebrate this year the 10th anniversary of the adoption of UN Global CT Strategy. The phenomenon of radicalisation turning into violent extremism can be best contained at a level closest to vulnerable individuals and in the most affected communities, through engagement with non-governmental organisations, frontline workers, women, and civil society organisations including victims’ groups as well as local authorities, academics, schools, law enforcement and security officials. Education and youth exchanges are areas which provide a unique opportunity to help young people to think critically about extremists’ views and discourses and expose the flaws of such propaganda. The UN system can play a significant role in bringing these different actors together.

The biennial review of the implementation of the UN Global Strategy is a valuable indicator for Member States to detect implementation gaps. Nonetheless, two years is a very short period to implement long-term CT strategies and actions plans. We therefore suggest for the future that both the implementation of the strategy and review cycle be fully reconsidered, including through regular needs assessment reports, to ensure that the UN has a contemporary response to the ever changing nature of terrorism. The EU and its Member States stands ready to play an active role in this respect.

We would like to thank Argentina and Iceland for their co-facilitation of the Resolution to be adopted today. It was not an easy task.

We acknowledge the positive elements in this Resolution. In particular, it rightly recalls resolution 70/254, which welcomed the initiative of the Secretary-General and took note of his Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, and rightly recommends that Member States consider the implementation of relevant recommendations of the Plan. We also welcome the important substantial references in the Resolution to the role of women and youth, to addressing the phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters and their return, to tackling the financing of terrorism, and radicalization in prisons.

We also welcome the reference in the Resolution to the role of UNODC, as well as to law enforcement and criminal justice authorities. Importantly, the Resolution stresses the importance of national criminal justice systems based on respect for human rights and the rule of law. The Resolution also contains important provisions on the need to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, on preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit use of small arms and light weapons by terrorists, and on the need for CTITF to give further attention to the issue of improvised explosive devices.

But we also need to be aware that the Resolution to be adopted does not address in the way we would have expected some important issues. We had made very clear at the outset of the negotiation that the UN Member States need to reflect upon the core functions that we want the UN to perform when it comes to counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism. We called for a frank assessment of what the UN are doing well (threat assessment, monitoring the implementation of resolution, identification of needs and gaps, capacity-building) and what could be improved (internal and external coordination, strategic orientation, external communications). We should have looked at how we can improve these gaps in the current architecture so that it is capable to assume its central role and deliver an all-of-UN approach. Unfortunately, the Resolution does not reflect an ambitious vision in this regard, and we regret it.

In addition, this 10th anniversary represented a good opportunity to better structure the Review resolution, in order to make our work more visible and accessible to actors outside of the UN and highlight new trends. As the respect for human rights (for all) and the rule of law are the fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism and essential to all components of the UN Global CT Strategy, the EU would have welcomed more language relating to this important pillar in the resolution. Here we could have been more ambitious, also paying greater attention to abuses of human rights and terrorists’ violence towards persons belonging to religious minorities, particularly in the Middle East, that may constitute crimes against humanity, genocide or war crimes.

Moreover, we would have liked to see more emphasis in the Resolution on the assistance to victims of terrorism and their families, which is a key part of the EU counter-terrorism efforts. The EU aims to enhance the representation of victims’ interests at EU level, and raises awareness among European citizens in order to strengthen European solidarity with victims of terrorism. Victims of terrorism have an important place in the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), with one subgroup specifically devoted to the “voices of victims of terrorism”. The Web Portal for victims created by the CTITF is also an important initiative to raise global awareness and to assist Member States with assistance programmes for victims and their families.

Another key component of the CT strategy is countering the financing of terrorism.  In this regard, we regret that the resolution to be adopted does not mention the role of the FATF. 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.

Mr. Chairman,

The deepening of the international consensus and enhancement of international efforts to combat terrorism continues to be a key objective for the EU and its Member States. Therefore, we fully support the UN’s key role in the prevention of, and fight against violent extremism and terrorism in full compliance with international law and human rights. We are committed to support the UN and an international system based on the rule of law and human rights. We will continue to strongly support international CT cooperation, and the promotion of UN standards on counter-terrorism, particularly where the protection of human rights and promotion of the rule of law is a cornerstone.

The EU and its member States are willing to share our experience and expertise in this field in particular regarding the consideration of human rights in the field of counter-terrorism assistance. Our objective is to assist countries through capacity-building in the fields of the rule of law, criminal justice and law enforcement, and the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This requires first and foremost political consensus of our partners. We intend to do so also as a member of other relevant international organizations, in particular the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF). The GCTF was established to assist the UN in implementing the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. And because the UN cannot and should not have to go at it alone, we call upon the UN system and all Member States to continue and enhance cooperation with the GCTF and other relevant international organizations.

The EU and its Member States fully agree with the UN Secretary General’s report that the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and particularly SDG 16 on building peaceful, just and inclusive societies, will further contribute to our efforts to address one of the key conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism. There cannot be sustainable development without peace and security, and without development there will be no lasting peace. The EU therefore promotes a comprehensive approach to counter-terrorism which includes security and development activities at national, regional and international level to better address the conditions conducive to the spreading of terrorism.

Community engagement is also a significant tool in combating the use of the internet and social media for terrorist purposes. Extremist material and propaganda is easily accessible online through discussion sites, social media, blogs, etc. Therefore and in support of the UN Secretary General’s recommendation, we must cooperate more closely with civil society and the private sector to address challenges faced online while upholding the right to privacy and the freedom of speech.

Mr. Chairman,

Last Tuesday, the European Council welcomed the new European Union Global Strategy for our foreign and security policy, presented by the High Representative. This Strategy highlights the fact that the EU will live up to its values internally and externally: this is the strongest antidote we have against violent extremism and terrorism. 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.

Thank you.


* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

  • Ref: EUUN16-121EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: General Assembly - Plenary
  • Date: 01/07/2016

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