The unprecedented levels of terrorism and violent extremism on a global scale requires balanced implementation of commitments made through collective action, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today emphasized, calling on the international community to act with unity and resolve to address “this major scourge of our time.”
“We have an urgent moral duty to do all we can to prevent and end this carnage,” the Secretary-General said at the opening of a two-day meeting at UN Headquarters in New York on the fifth review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, a global instrument adopted by the General Assembly in 2006 to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism.
“Taking collective preventive action against terrorism, in the spirit of our United Nations Charter, is the only way to secure peace and prosperity for succeeding generations,” Mr. Ban added.
While there has been progress in the implementation of the counter-terrorism strategy that was adopted 10 years ago, important shifts have occurred in the global terrorism landscape since then, with the strategy encountering “unforeseen challenges.”
He referred to information technologies which spread “poisonous” violent extremist ideologies, the easy availability of arms, the flow of foreign terrorist fighters across borders and heightened media attention have all contributed to creating an environment where terrorists have taken control of vast swaths of territory, resources and populations in “vortex of protracted conflicts, ungoverned spaces and terrorism.”
“Terrorism transcends cultures and geographical boundaries. It cannot be associated with any one religion, nationality or ethnic group. It affects all countries,” he stressed, noting also the recent terror attack in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Secretary-General underlined that, as explained in his Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, a more systematic, preventive approach is necessary to address the drivers of violent extremism.
He highlighted the four pillars of the counter-terrorism strategy as they relate to addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; preventing and combatting terrorism; building States’ capacity and strengthening the role of the UN; and ensuring human rights and the rule of law.
Expressing concern about the “growing drift in many countries and regions towards bigotry, anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, homophobia and outright racism,” Mr. Ban emphasized that the General Assembly is the forum to “forge and reinforce” a global consensus in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
“Now, more than ever, we need strong and effective international cooperation at the bilateral, regional, interregional and global levels, and balanced implementation across all four pillars,” he said.
Also speaking at the opening, the General Assembly President, Mogens Lykketoft, highlighted that consultations on the global counter-terrorism strategy were a “unique opportunity to discuss how to make the UN more relevant, more credible, more legitimate and more capable in responding to terrorism.”
“In these last years, we have been alarmed by the acts of intolerance, and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, violence, including sectarian violence, and terrorism in various parts of the world, which claim innocent lives, cause destruction, displace people and divide communities,” he said.
Calling on Member States to commit to concrete action to keep the strategy relevant and contemporary, Mr. Lykketoft said such action is necessary in the light of emerging new threats and evolving trends.
“We cannot allow ourselves to send a message of disunity to the world when our peoples and our community of nations face such a grave challenge,” he stressed, urging agreement on “an outcome that sends a common message from the international community.”
“Doing so will enable the UN to continue to improve its response to new and evolving threats to international peace and security, to the 2030 Agenda, the pursuit of the rule of law and the realization of human rights for all,” Mr. Lykketoft concluded.