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UN officials urge countries to act on counter-terrorism strategy

UN officials urge countries to act on counter-terrorism strategy

The main responsibility for carrying out the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy “falls squarely on Member States,” a senior UN official today told a symposium in Vienna convened to translate the landmark plan from words into action.

Assistant Secretary-General Bob Orr, Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, told the opening of the two-day symposium that a majority of the more than 50 practical recommendations and provisions in the Strategy are direct calls for Member States to take specific action.

“If we are to have concrete results to show to the world at the Two-Year Review of the Strategy, all actors must be actively engaged, both individually and collectively,” Mr. Orr said, pledging that the UN and its various departments and agencies would also introduce practical measures when required.

Adopted by the General Assembly last September after a year of often fractious negotiations, the Strategy includes practical steps at the local, national and international level – ranging from strengthening the capacity of individual States to prevent and combat terrorism to ensuring that human rights and the rule of law are always respected in the fight against terrorism.

It also calls for measures to enhance the role of the UN system to deal with terrorism, and to make sure that the world body’s efforts are better coordinated.

Speaking during a debate following the opening speeches, Mr. Orr said the Strategy had been adopted as a holistic, comprehensive document and its implementation should therefore be done in an integrated manner and not as a pick-and-choose exercise by Member States.

The Vienna symposium – convened jointly by the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Austria – is the first major forum for Member States and the UN system to gather to chart a path for implementing the Strategy since its adoption.

UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa told the meeting that his agency has the history of technical assistance, the network of field offices and the knowledge of the links between drugs, crime and terrorism to help UN Member States on the ground as they devise the practical measures to counter terrorism.

Mr. Costa also called on States to set clear benchmarks against which performance can be measured, adding that “we will be judged by our actions, by results.”