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Fourth Review of the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Statement by HE Ms Philippa King, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations


Thank you Madam President, and thank you also to Ambassador Halik Cevik and his team for leading this important review to a strong consensus outcome. Australia condemns the terrorist acts by ISIL in Iraq and the taking hostage of the Turkish consulate staff. We urge ISIL to release the hostages immediately. The international community should cooperate to secure their safe release.  We also express our solidarity with the governments and people of Pakistan and Nigeria for the recent deplorable attacks by terrorists in those countries.

Madam President

The threat of terrorism today is more complex than ever before. Terrorist organisations are dynamic: they are able to move and recruit quickly; to communicate ideas and methods instantaneously; to mobilise resources globally.  Terrorist and violent extremist groups have shown intent and ability to exploit vulnerabilities in some societies – namely inter-communal tension, illiteracy and weak governance – to radicalise those societies for their own ideological and financial gains.

The comprehensive approach in the UN global counter terrorism strategy is more important than ever in tackling these evolving challenges. Since 2006, we have seen significant global successes in law enforcement, including prosecution and convictions. We must continue to strengthen criminal justice systems and international legal cooperation while protecting human rights, and at the same time we need to focus more on prevention.

The Fourth review of the Global Strategy importantly identifies preventive steps to address these emerging challenges.

The rapid growth in kidnap for ransom and hostage taking by terrorist groups to finance their operations or to gain concessions is one of the most serious global challenges. This tactic is now a primary source of income for terrorists in some regions.  There is good and growing evidence that the payment of ransoms by States both dramatically increases the amount in ransom that is demanded, and results in further targeting of the citizens of those States, thus perpetuating the problem.  The safety and welfare of the victim of course is a paramount concern. However, ransoms are financing terrorism and we need international solidarity to suppress this practice.

Both the General Assembly, under this biennial review, and the Security Council through resolution 2133 and the Al Qaida sanctions regime, have recognised the need to address this issue. The Counter Terrorism Committee Special Meeting later this year will be an important opportunity to share experiences in preventing kidnap for ransom by terrorists.

Madam President

The review of the Global Strategy this year has put the spotlight on measures to address the conditions conducive to terrorism. There is growing recognition that governments can do better to counter violent extremism which can lead to terrorism.  National strategies for countering violent extremism are important.  Australia’s national strategy involves the full range of government agencies and leverages community policing and strong partnerships with community leaders and civil society to build social cohesion and community resilience, by promoting tolerance, pluralism, democracy and human rights.

We have heard a lot today about the challenge posed by “foreign fighters”, and the law enforcement measures that we can take in response to this threat. In tackling the phenomenon, countering violent extremism in communities must complement law enforcement efforts. States and communities can marginalise the appeal of fighting in a foreign country, including by improving understanding of the consequences of joining conflict, and encouraging people to pursue alternative non-violent avenues to assist affected populations in these countries such as the humanitarian effort. We also need to manage the potential threat foreign fighters pose when they return to their home communities. Whether prosecuted or not, we need to ensure they disengage from violent extremist ideologies.

The international community must work together urgently to address the threat posed by foreign fighters. If we don’t tackle this together and head on, it will have unquantifiable consequences on global security and development.

Madam President

A crucial preventive tool in the global tool box is the Al Qaida sanctions regime, which aims to prevent the travel, and the provision of funds and arms to Al Qaida affiliates and individuals.

In the words of the Secretary General, ‘terrorists that claim affiliation with Al Qaida continue to present the most widespread challenge to Member States security’. Several delegations today have made the point that while Al Qaida’s senior leadership and central structure may be weaker, its motivational appeal is as strong as ever. We see this in the proliferation of dispersed Al Qaida affiliates and splinter groups that take advantage of local conflicts or situations of limited State control.

The Al Qaida Sanctions Committee continues to ensure its sanctions list targets the contemporary nature of the threat, as seen in its recent actions in adding Boko Haram and three splinter groups of Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb to the list. These actions demonstrate, too, how the sanctions regime supports States in preventing Al Qaida linked terrorists from posing a threat within their borders and regions.  But the full potential of the regime to target and counter the Al Qaida network will only be realised if Member States integrate the sanctions regime into their national and regional responses to the Al Qaida network, and work with the Committee to identify who are the key enablers within that network who should be subject to the sanctions.

Madam President

The Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, sanctions and other international measures can only be effective if they are implemented widely and robustly. And many States continue to require technical assistance to implement their obligations.

Australia will continue to work to strengthen capacity of partners in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Africa. In Asia, we support initiatives in the areas of law enforcement, border and transport security, legal framework development, prisons management, and counter terrorism financing.  As the Deputy Foreign Minister of Indonesia said this morning, the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) established after the terrorist bombings in Bali in 2002, has now trained over 15,000 officers. Such dedicated regional facilities are vital in implementing the Global Strategy – they strengthen capacity and the personal relationships which deliver cooperation across borders. In Nigeria, Kenya, East Africa and the Sahel we are also working with governments to support training that will boost law enforcement, border management and countering violent extremism capacity.

The Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) also plays a substantial role by working with the UN to promote the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy and facilitating capacity building in a practical, responsive and dynamic way. Australia co-chairs with Indonesia the new GCTF Working Group on Detention and Reintegration, which was established earlier this year to address the challenge of terrorist prisoners during detention and their reintegration into society after their release.

Madam President

More than any other organisation, the UN plays a unique and leading role in strengthening implementation of international norms and standards in countering terrorism, and in mobilising technical assistance necessary for global efforts to be effective.

We welcome the Secretary General’s steps to integrate peace and security issues, including counter terrorism, with activities to promote social and economic development. The UN must adapt to the contemporary threat posed by terrorism through such a strategic and coordinated approach. The Fourth biennial review of the implementation of the Strategy will support the UN in this endeavour. Thank you Madam President.

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