UN Security Council Open Debate: Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

  • Peace, Rights and Security
As delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 14 April 2016.

I thank China for initiating this Open Debate, which provides an important opportunity to consider one of the most serious and complex challenges facing the international community and I would thank the Secretary-General for his statement

Global terrorism is not a new phenomenon. But the threat it now poses is unprecedented in its scale, reach and human cost.

The past two years have been amongst the bloodiest on record. Around the globe, on a nearly daily basis indiscriminate attacks are destroying the lives of everyday people, leaving trauma and fear in their wake.

And while a relatively limited number of states continue to bear the brunt of this carnage, the rise of new, pernicious global networks and their sophisticated use of modern communications technology mean that no country can consider itself safe from this menace.

There are no quick or simple solutions. What is clear, however, is that now more than ever international cooperation is vital to keeping our communities safe. The United Nations has a central role to play in ensuring we remain united in our resolve, and in supporting a coordinated and effective approach at the national, regional and global levels.

Mr President, over the years, a range of measures, such as the designation of terrorists and terrorist organisations and steps to suppress the financing of terrorism have been adopted to address the threat.  More work is needed to ensure these measures are implemented effectively. 

While this Council has a key role, including through its sanctions committees, Member States and other actors such as the Financial Action Task Force are crucial to these efforts.  Today’s joint briefing by the Chairs of the ISIL/Al Qaida and Counter Terrorism committees being held in another room in these buildings provides a further opportunity to consider these issues. 

Security cooperation has an important role to play, particularly in countering groups such as ISIL/Da’esh, al Shabaab, and Boko Haram that seek to impose their will through fear and force. New Zealand is playing its part through its support to the Iraqi Government in its efforts to combat the forces of ISIL/Da’esh within its territory.

But security responses alone are not an effective and enduring solution to the terrorist threat. A comprehensive approach remains critical; one that also addresses the underlying drivers of violent extremism.

As the Secretary General has just reminded us, this year’s biennial review of the Global Counter-terrorism Strategy presents an opportunity to assess whether the structures, information sharing mechanisms and resources currently in place are sufficient to support effective and efficient cooperation within the United Nations, between Member States and with relevant actors in the private sector and civil society.

It is also timely for this Council to consider what steps it can take to strengthen the United Nations’ counter-terrorism architecture, catalyse necessary action and ensure all parts of the system are working together and without unnecessary duplication, and facilitate effective capacity building.

This Council also has an important role to play in identifying and addressing critical gaps in international counter-terrorism efforts. In this regard, I want to highlight two specific areas that we consider warrant particular attention in the months ahead.

First, we need to ensure an effective response to the challenges posed by the increasing flow of foreign terrorist fighters returning to their homes or travelling to third countries.

This Council took decisive steps in Resolution 2178 to address the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into conflict zones. 

With an estimated 30,000 foreign fighters from more than 100 countries currently active, and as the tide in the battle for territory turns, we must have strategies to address the enormous social challenges and security risks that will be posed by returning former fighters. 

Security and law enforcement measures will be important. But rehabilitation and reintegration also need to form a significant part of our response if we are to prevent further alienation and radicalisation.

We must also ensure our response is fully compliant with, and deeply grounded in, the values that are central to this organisation: respect for the rule of law and for fundamental human rights.

International cooperation - in the form of information sharing, exchange of good practice, judicial cooperation and targeted capacity building – also have an essential role to play. Those countries most at risk cannot be left to face these challenges alone.

Second, this Council needs to play its role in taking forward relevant recommendations from the Secretary-General’s recent report on preventing violent extremism.

We cannot hope to meet the unprecedented terrorist threat we currently face without reducing the appeal of terrorist narratives and addressing the factors that drive vulnerable young people into the arms of such groups.

This is long-term work, across decades and generations, that requires a commitment to building social cohesion and engagement, and to fostering inclusive, tolerant communities. We need national responses targeted to the circumstances of specific countries and communities.

This Council also needs to consider what role it can play in supporting these efforts, and how its actions, statements and decisions can support our collective response to countering these insidious narratives. These are issues which we consider warrant serious reflection by the Council.

Thank you


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