Assembly President urges stronger global cooperation to combat terrorism

4 September 2008

The United Nations and the international community must each step up their efforts to deliver concrete results in the fight against international terrorism, the President of the General Assembly said today in New York.

Addressing the opening of an Assembly meeting to review the 2006 Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy – the first global and common approach to tackle the scourge – Srgjan Kerim stressed the need for “a new way of thinking about our shared fate in a way that reflects the complexities of contemporary human and economic relations, with the well-being of the individual and communities at its centre.”

Participants shared their national experiences in countering terrorism, and the President, who has made implementing the Strategy one of his top priorities, voiced hope that this exchange will help to identify areas for collaboration.

“By finding gaps and identifying where further assistance is needed we can build closer cooperation between Member States and the United Nations system,” he said.

The Strategy was adopted by the Assembly in September 2006 after a year of sometimes fractious negotiations as countries worked to overcome their differences.

It focuses on four main pillars of action: tackling the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; preventing and combating terrorism; building State capacity and bolstering the role of the UN; and ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law against the backdrop of the fight against terrorism.

“Let us all demonstrate that the Strategy has brought us closer together to counter this scourge,” Mr. Kerim said. “Only with a strong resolve we can achieve a safer world for all.”

Also speaking at the meeting, which heard from over 60 speakers, was Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke of how deeply he was affected by seeing first-hand the devastation wrought by last December’s terrorist attack in Algiers, Algeria, that claimed the lives of 17 UN staff members. “I was overwhelmed and overcome by emotion,” he told attendees.

That incident, along with the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad killing 22 people, “serve as emblems of our determination to reinvigorate our efforts to counter the scourge of terrorism,” Mr. Ban said.

He praised the positive steps taken since the Strategy’s adoption, but underlined that more needs to be done. “We must intensify our efforts to implement the strategy across the board. This is not a choice; it is a fundamental duty.”

Calling for a “realistic, proactive and calculated” approach to addressing terrorism, the Secretary-General called on Member States to take the lead, but given the uneven capacities of nations, emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation.

The meeting is expected to conclude with the adoption of a resolution which reiterates support for the Strategy and reaffirms Member States’ condemnation of terrorism.

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