14 April 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Mr. João Vale de Almeida, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts
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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.
I would like to thank you Mr President for organising this timely debate, ahead the upcoming anniversary review of the General Assembly of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and following on the Plan of Action to Prevent- Violent Extremism presented by the Secretary General and the conference in Geneva on 7-8 April where UN members discussed the way forward. I would also like to thank the Secretary General for his briefing.
Horrific terrorist attacks around the globe remind us of the need to join forces and give a comprehensive response: terrorism cannot be defeated with security measures alone; we need to act together and we need to strengthen our preventive dimension to respond to radicalization and recruitment in a holistic manner. All these measures should uphold the rule of law and the respect for human rights, international humanitarian law and international refugee law.
The European Union has a long-standing and comprehensive engagement in countering terrorism and preventing radicalization and recruitment; yet there is long way to go. At the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 9 February 2015, the EU Member States renewed their commitment to comprehensive counter-terrorist measures with enhanced and more coordinated action. We have strengthened our approach at the internal and external levels, with non EU member states and other. We presented our renewed vision in the European Agenda on Security of last year.
Terrorist organizations as well as individual terrorists need financing to maintain their networks, to recruit and supply, and to commit terrorist acts. Cutting off their sources of financing is imperative, yet increasingly challenging, due to the new trends that have emerged with Da’esh and the returning terrorist fighters such as trafficking in resources and cultural heritage artefacts. These need to be addressed through modernized legislation, better multilateral and bilateral cooperation and exchange of key information.
When it comes to detecting the movement of funds, tracking systems such as the Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme are key tools; nevertheless, there is a need to also focus on “low cost” terrorist operations which can still have a devastating effect, and which use new modalities of payment, which are difficult to track. In response, the EU has already taken important steps. Following the adoption of the UNSC resolution 2199 (2015), we have started the review of our legislative framework in order to meet enhanced requirements for criminalisation of the financing of terrorism. The European Commission proposed a draft Directive on combating terrorism in December 2015, which is currently under negotiations and expected to be adopted by the end of 2016. The European Council is currently preparing a Decision to amend the listing criteria in line with the UNSC resolutions 2253 (2015) and 2178 (2014); it will be complemented by a Council Regulation to determine the specific restrictive measures to be applied to those persons and entities listed. Also, in February 2016, the European Commission issued a Communication presenting an Action Plan for strengthening the fight against terrorist financing identifying short and medium term measures aimed at (1) tackling the abuse of our financial system for terrorist purposes and (2) targeting the sources of funding, including considering a wider response to illicit trafficking in cultural goods and wild life. This set of measures is also linked to our engagement at external level where we have increased our support to partner countries for capacity building and compliance with the legal requirements of UNSC resolutions’ and the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force.
Stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and tackling their return is another complex challenge where international cooperation is needed. We strongly support action under UNSC resolution 2178, and the recommendations for its implementation contained the Guiding Principles adopted in Madrid last July, as well as efforts to bolster international action to prevent violent extremism. As the top tier of terrorists is removed or brought to justice, it is increasingly important that we increase preventive actions to ensure that they are not replaced by new recruits – younger and more technically sophisticated. From the criminal justice perspective, we are in process of ratifying the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism. We are currently negotiating comprehensive criminal law provisions in the draft European directives on combating terrorism and on passenger name record (PNR) data. In addition, ongoing efforts are also undertaken in order to support knowledge sharing within the EU through the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) and its Centre of Excellence. Through this Centre 2000 European practitioners such as teachers, health care workers, social and youth workers, prison officers and NGOs exchange good practices on prevention of radicalization. This approach is based on understanding root causes and the goal is to proposed practical tools and recommendations to both practitioners and policy makers. We are ready to share our expertise in the UN framework.
Externally, we are an active member of initiatives such as the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) and its working groups where members and non-members exchange good practice on a variety of subjects related to the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism: detention, reintegration, the rule of law and criminal justice efforts that are needed, preventing violent extremism, foreign terrorist fighters. We are also actively supporting the three GCTF inspired institutes: Hedayah Centre, the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF, Switzerland), and the International Institute on Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJRL, in Malta).
Education, youth participation, interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue, as well as offering employment possibilities and promoting social inclusion are key in preventing radicalization by promoting common values, fostering social inclusion, building resilience and enhancing mutual understanding and tolerance. In support of EU Member States, the European Commission is developing a series of concrete actions under the Strategic Framework for European Cooperation on Education and Training (called “ET 2020”), the European Youth Strategy, the EU Work Plan for Sport and the Culture Work Plan. Also on the external level, we address root causes by continuing to provide material support and capacity building to developing countries aimed at poverty reduction, ensuring sustainable economic, social and environmental development, democracy, rule of law, good governance and human rights – as critical pieces of the anti-radicalisation challenge.
As you rightly identify in the concept note prepared for this debate, misuse of Internet and social media by terrorists to target our youngest, most vulnerable citizens with messages of violence is another complex challenge that we need to tackle whilst upholding the fundamental human rights of freedom of expression and freedom of information at the same time. In December 2015, we have launched the EU Internet Forum, which serves as a platform for relevant stakeholders such as ministries, law enforcement agencies, internet companies and civil society to work together to identify common tools, best practices, innovative and new solutions to tackle all IT-related issues of terrorism. Main priorities of the Forum are: (1) reducing accessibility of terrorist content online and (2) empowering civil society partners to increase the volume of effective narratives that are more attractive than the terrorist content. We have also set up a referral mechanism with Europol in 2015 to help EU countries and Internet companies to identify terrorist material online. First results are very positive and we are ready to share our experience with the UN on this initiative.
We are also active in developing strategic communications outside the EU. We have set up a task force on strategic communications working with Middle Eastern and North African countries to identify shared values and develop concrete communication actions.
Terrorism and violent extremism are global challenges, and the UN has a central role in supporting Member States in this endeavour. Only together we can pool the sufficient resources and expertise required to address them. A joint approach, based on our shared values is a sine qua non.
I thank you, Mr. President.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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