The United Nations system has moved swiftly and vigorously to implement the landmark Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted last year by the General Assembly, from improving the international response to a potential attack to finding ways to combat the financing of such crimes to factoring counter-terrorism ideas into conflict prevention planning, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
In a statement to an Assembly meeting on the follow-up to the strategy’s adoption, Mr. Ban stressed that the efforts of UN entities will only succeed if individual Member States “take full ownership of the strategy,” both within their countries and in working with other nations.
“Together, we must demonstrate that we are up to the task. Whether we like it or not, our generation will go down in history as one that was challenged to protect the world from terrorism,” he said.
“We are challenged to do so by victims and survivors in New York, Bali, Nairobi, Riyadh, Bombay, Casablanca, Istanbul, Dar Es Salaam, Beslan, London and Madrid – where the trial of the 2004 bombings opened just yesterday, reminding us that the wounds of such an attack never fully heal.”
Mr. Ban launched an online handbook on the UN’s counter-terrorism activities, which is designed to give Member States, regional organizations and UN country teams a single, easily accessible tool for information on what the world body is doing. The handbook will be regularly updated and expanded to take account of any changes.
“I urge you to take full advantage of this tool, and of the numerous resources the UN system has to offer in our effort to fight terrorism,” he told representatives in the 192-member Assembly.
Much of the UN work is being undertaken by the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which was set up last year and brings together two dozen UN entities, working together under mandates from the Assembly, the Security Council and various specialized agencies, funds and programmes.
The task force has itself established a series of working groups to focus on a first set of initiatives, including: the better coordination of a response to a terrorist attack; measures to counter the financing of terrorism; identifying and sharing best practices to protect “soft targets”; exploring options for assisting victims of terrorism; and ensuring human rights are protected in the fight against terrorism.
Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed al Khalifa told today’s meeting that it was not just up to governments and UN agencies to ensure the strategy succeeds: the private sector and civil society must also play their role.
“This is truly a collective effort for which everyone bears responsibility,” she said.
Sheikha Haya emphasized that if the world does not act now, “the magnitude of the threat could grow, affecting many more innocent people.” She urged Member States to remain steadfast in their efforts to reach agreement on a comprehensive global convention against terrorism.