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Thursday, October 17th, 2019

Counter Terrorism Cooperation in Central Asia Must Respect Founding United Nations Principles, Human Rights, Speakers Tell Security Council in Ministerial Debate

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Ministers and other high level officials welcomed counter terrorism cooperation between the United Nations and Central Asian security organizations, while stressing that all regional efforts must be pursued under the Organization’s founding principles.

As the Security Council took up the matter today, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: The three organizations that are the subject of this ministerial debate are playing an important role in promoting regional counter terrorism cooperation by facilitating the exchange of critical information and knowledge and the implementation of joint investigations and operations. However, efforts to counter terrorist ideology must be founded on respect for the dignity and human rights of all, he stressed.

Briefing the 15 nation Council, Vladimir Imamovich Norov, Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation; Valery Semerikov, Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization; and Sergey Ivanov, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) all described the frameworks that had been developed in countering terrorism and transnational crime, among other aims.

Mr. Norov, describing efforts by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, outlined its unified concept of terrorism and extremism now in practice by its member States, noting that, among other achievements, 360 terrorist crimes were prevented and 80 underground cells were eliminated in 2018.

Mr. Semerikov, giving an overview of the Collective Security Treaty Organization efforts, described the seizures of illicit drugs and weapons being carried out on a regular basis, as well as the establishment of a rapid reaction force for all counter terrorism efforts.

Mr. Ivanov informed the Council of joint operations and special efforts being conducted by CIS, resulting in the identifying and countering of the flow of monetary funds obtained as the result of criminal activity.

Following those briefings, most representatives, noting the ever evolving threat, affirmed the importance of cooperation between the three organizations and the United Nations in fighting terrorism and radicalization. In that vein, some praised cooperation with the European Union and other regional organizations as well, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Sergey Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, which holds the Council presidency for September, highlighted the efficacy of cooperation with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). However, such cooperative efforts should be enjoined without politicization and without double standards, he stressed. Using terrorist entities for political purposes is particularly unacceptable.

Many speakers focused on the need to fully respect international law, particularly human rights law, in the context of counter terrorist operations, with some underscoring that success in countering terrorism was dependent on respect for human rights principles within the United Nations framework.

In that regard, the representative of the United States expressed serious concern over attacks on civilian targets in Syria under the guise of fighting terrorism and the suppression of an entire minority group in Xinjiang Province of China in order to stop terrorist acts.

China’s representative rejected the latter claim, maintaining that deradicalization measures taken by China have effectively curbed terrorism and safeguarded the right of survival of all people in Xinjiang. He urged the United States to stand with the Chinese people.

However, Marcin Przydacz, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Poland, emphasized that organizations cooperating with the United Nations must respect the principles of inviolability of State borders. He protested the position of the three Central Asia regional organizations on the annexation of Ukrainian territory, which he said placed their impartiality in question.

Nonetheless, representatives of Central Asian countries said they place great importance on their participation in the frameworks set up by the organizations, as well as bilateral and international cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Abdulaziz Kamilov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, pointed out the perspective of the countries in the region was critical to combating terrorism. He also noted that being neighbours with Afghanistan was not merely a challenge and a security threat, but also a potential asset for the regional economy.

Sirodjiddin Muhriddin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, described his country’s cooperation with CIS, as well as its work with the Collective Security Treaty Organization on areas such as trafficking in persons and illicit drugs. He emphasized the importance of the organizations in maintaining security on his country’s border with Afghanistan.

Mukhtar Tileuberdi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, called upon all countries to take 10 steps to help eradicate terrorism by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the United Nations. His Government also intends to include the issue of counter terrorism among its military and political priorities, he said.

Before the Council was a concept note provided by the Russian Federation (document S/2019/742), proposing enhancing the role of regional and subregional organizations in assisting Member States to implement the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy and related resolutions of the Security Council.

Also speaking today were ministers, senior officials and representatives of Kuwait, Belgium, South Africa, Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Cote d’Ivoire, Peru, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Iran, Armenia, Pakistan, Mongolia and India, as well as the European Union.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 1:39 p.m.

Opening Remarks

ANTA�NIO GUTERRES, Secretary General of the United Nations, said that international cooperation is the first priority of the United Nations counter terrorism strategy. The three organizations that are the subject of this ministerial debate are playing an important role in promoting regional counter terrorism cooperation by facilitating the exchange of critical information and knowledge and the implementation of joint investigations and operations, he said, adding that the United Nations is strengthening its institutional links with each of them. The partnership had already established frameworks for joint activities, exchanges of information and collaboration on capacity building assistance to Member States in line with the principles established by the Global Counter Terrorism Coordination Compact, which guides all United Nations activities on counter terrorism.

Outlining joint plans of action, he also commended the work of the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States to harmonize the counter terrorism legislation of its members. Emphasizing that terrorism is fundamentally the denial and destruction of human rights, he stressed that efforts to counter terrorist ideology must be founded on respect for the dignity and human rights of all. More so, counter terrorism cooperation with the three organizations present was deepening as a growing range of issues were being covered. I look forward to our continued cooperation as we work together to end the threat of terrorism and build a more secure and prosperous future for all, he said.

Briefings

VLADIMIR IMAMOVICH NOROV, Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, underscored the topic’s timely relevance in today’s world, where instability is increasing due to terrorist threats and transnational organized crime. The fight against terrorism and related threats is one of the main priorities of his organization. In 2001, three months before the tragic events in New York, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was founded. Even then, there was a deep awareness of the negative trends that were unfolding. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has developed a treaty and mechanisms, open to accession by any interested State, in the area of security.

It has also developed and put in practice a unified concept of terrorism and extremism, he said, noting that in 2018, 360 terrorist crimes were prevented and 80 underground cells were eliminated. Work was also implemented to cut off the financing of terrorism and the illegal flow of weapons and explosives. The organization increased its capacity to combat threats with the joining of new members, India and Pakistan. However, he stressed that it is not a military organization that is aimed at other States or international organizations. Rather, it is an open organization which has no small or large States and where decisions are taken by consensus.

He went on to say that the conflict in Afghanistan must be resolved, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is activating dialogues in that regard. In order to combat the link between drug trafficking and terrorism, a renewed anti drug strategy is being implemented. The organization is also working with the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in order to implement the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy and the anti terrorism resolutions of the Security Council.

VALERY SEMERIKOV, Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said a very important factor in pooling international efforts in counter terrorism is the United Nations Secretary General’s emphasis on broad international cooperation. The Collective Security Treaty Organization is already very active in such cooperation. Seizures of illicit drugs and weapons are being carried out on a regular basis and information technologies are being scoured to root out sources of terrorist recruiting. A rapid reaction force has been established for all counter terrorism efforts and a list of terrorist organizations is being consolidated.

Neutralizing the radicalization caused by foreign terrorist fighters is also a priority, he said. Best practices have been developed in that area and all others and have been recognized by United Nations officials. However, efforts in information security must be further strengthened, as new tactics are constantly being developed by terrorists. The relocation of terrorist forces between Tajikistan and Afghanistan is also a top current concern, he added, stressing that collective efforts must be enhanced in all areas without double standards and under Charter principles.

Welcoming the manner in which cooperation between the United Nations and the Collective Security Treaty Organization had progressed, he called for it to be further widened. He noted that efforts in some regions are not adequately harmonized with the global approach. It is necessary to further merge general and particular approaches in the most effective way while also promoting increased trust.

SERGEY IVANOV, Deputy Executive Secretary, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), said that one of the priority areas of the Commonwealth is to ensure security that is based on common views on existing threats and a determination to counter them. There is a focus on countering terrorism in the security sphere, with member States constantly making improvements. In 2018, an agreement on an exchange of information to counter terrorism entered into force.

Measures are also being taken by CIS to eliminate conditions that contribute to financing terrorist activity, he continued. A programme of cooperation to combat terrorism has been successfully implemented. The Commonwealth will conduct joint operations and special efforts, exchange information and exchange best practices and experience with other international organizations. In the course of implementing this programme, CIS is actively identifying and countering the flow of monetary funds that are obtained as the result of criminal activity.

It is also focusing on countering the spread of extremist ideas and recruitment by terrorists, he pointed out. Most modern technologies are used by the Commonwealth to exchange information on individuals engaging in terrorist activity, identifying their locations and stopping them at borders.

Statements

SERGEY LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and President of the Security Council for September, spoke in his national capacity, underscoring the urgent need to strengthen international efforts in combating terrorism. Noting the growing dangers posed, particularly by the return of foreign terrorist fighters, he called on everyone to support the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). More so, all cooperative efforts should be enjoined without politicization; using terrorist entities for political purposes was particularly unacceptable, he stressed. The regional entities under discussion have great experience in fighting terrorism in Central Asia, including combating the recruitment and return of foreign fighters and the use of the internet by extremists.

Noting that the Collective Security Treaty Organization summit planned for November will be discussing the next phase of counter terrorism activities, he said that its meeting is open to all interested Member States. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is particularly active in fighting radicalization emanating from the north of Afghanistan and CIS is active in many areas of assisting Member States in fulfilling their obligations in fighting terrorism. He called for a strengthening of cooperation between the United Nations and the organizations in all relevant areas of international peace and security.

SABAH KHALID AL HAMAD AL SABAH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, underscored the importance of regional cooperation to his country. As President of the Security Council last June, Kuwait organized a high level briefing on cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States (LAS). The session culminated in a presidential statement encouraging cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations. The Security Council should hold further meetings to address the means necessary to ensure cooperation between regional and subregional organizations.

He went on to say that experience has shown no one country by itself can confront the diverse and complicated modern challenges facing the world today, including terrorism, drug and people trafficking, among others. He stressed the important role of regional and subregional organizations, given their proximity and knowledge of the history and culture of the region, as well as their commonalities. Central Asia is a vital and promising region with geostrategic importance and natural resources. The three regional organizations being discussed today have close ties with the countries of the region. They play an important role by galvanizing collective efforts to confront its challenges.

Terrorism is one of the ugliest threats to international peace and security, he emphasized. It targets innocent civilians, including children and women. Because of its growing threat to global security, countries and organizations must step up their efforts. The phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters is of serious concern. The United Nations and its counter terrorism agencies have a vital role to play, including through General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, as well as well as relevant treaties and conventions.

ALEXANDER DE CROO, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Development Cooperation of Belgium, welcomed the excellent cooperation between the organizations under discussion and the United Nations in fighting terrorism. All efforts must be coordinated with the Global Strategy and United Nations principles. Only avoidance of polarization and conflict in such efforts will help eliminate terrorism.

He went on to say that the European Union has developed a framework of cooperation with the United Nations that emphasizes respect for the rule of law and human rights, as well as a focus on the root causes of radicalization and on education that counters extremist ideologies. Cooperation with other regions is particularly important. All must be accomplished under the founding values of the United Nations.

WANG YI, State Counsellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, noted that terrorism is becoming ever more dangerous and increasingly home grown. In the fight against it there must be no double standards. He also emphasized that terrorist groups must be prevented from using the internet. Extremist ideas must be countered and dialogue between civilizations must be encouraged. Sustainable development must be promoted. Individual efforts of Member States and regional organizations must be promoted as well, under the frameworks established by the United Nations.

The organizations under discussion play a valuable role in that regard, he continued. Praising the efforts of United Nations counter terrorism organizations, he pledged his country’s continuing cooperation. Central China had been plagued by terrorist attacks, particularly in the Xinjiang region, but such attacks have been stemmed due to his country’s recent efforts, which have been endorsed by all ethnic groups in the region. Unfortunately, the United States and other countries have led a smear campaign against China’s legitimate counter terrorism efforts.

NALEDI PANDOR, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, said that, across the world, attacks have shown that no region is immune to terrorism. What is needed is a strengthening of international, regional and subregional cooperation and coordination efforts. With near universal membership, the United Nations is best placed to foster cooperation across the globe and provide support to Member States and regions. The collective sharing of experiences and information and the adoption of best practices contribute to the development and enhancement of capabilities to address terrorism.

Regional organizations are the key partners of the United Nations, she continued. South Africa has enhanced strategic partnerships between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, not only in countering terrorism, but in conflict resolution as well. Her country continues to strive for a closer partnership between the United Nations and the African Union. South Africa remains supportive of counter terrorism measures that focus on prevention and address the conditions that give rise to terrorism, as well as promoting dialogue and understanding among people.

RETNO L.P. MARSUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, drew attention to the transformation of global terrorism into a small franchise cell movement. Terrorism will always find new ways and forms, she added. Thus, Member States must eliminate any conditions which might give terrorists space to spread their ideology, she stressed, calling for efforts to address such elements as prolonged conflicts, poverty, religious intolerance, violent extremism, Islamophobia and nationalist right wing movements. To prevent the spread of terrorist ideologies, countries require fully functional Governments, socioeconomic growth and development, inclusive and tolerant societies, early warning systems and support at the regional level.

To that point, she spotlighted both the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Convention on Counter Terrorism and its related 2012 Plan of Action, adding that Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have also launched a trilateral cooperation initiative to address distinct transnational treats posed by terrorist groups in the Sulu Sea. That framework enables joint air, land and sea exercises, as well as border patrol efforts, and has been effective in reducing the number of terrorist incidents in the area. Calling for the replication and alignment of strategies at the global level with those at the subregional, regional and national levels, she said the Secretary General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism is the main reference for various related initiatives by both ASEAN and Indonesia.

SIMEON OYONO ESONO ANGUE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Equatorial Guinea, said the constant flow of illicit weapons to non State actors exacerbates violence in various parts of the African continent, undermining socioeconomic development. In order to tackle the current challenges to peace and security, what is needed is a sustained focus that includes cooperation and participation, including an analysis of the root causes of problems by all States, including regional organizations.

The report of the Secretary General on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, and the statements that have been heard today, are clear examples of the advantages of cooperation, he said. As set out in the Charter, the Security Council is the main body for maintaining international peace and security. With that in mind, the cooperation of the Council with regional organizations will help promote collective response in the fight against terrorism. It also helps promote trust among States involved in efforts to mutually strengthen their capacity in combating terrorism.

MIGUEL VARGAS MALDONADO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, said the problem of foreign terrorist fighters and their return to their countries of origin, as well as their recruitment through the internet, continues to represent a terrible threat to the well being of nations. Because of that, this topic remains a priority not only for the Security Council but in other multilateral forums, he stressed, adding that both bi and multilateral cooperation are vital in the fight against terrorism.

The fight against terrorism is also a fight to defend human rights and to achieve development and prosperity, he continued, lauding the work of regional and subregional organizations in that regard. To ensure continuity and the successful cooperative relationship, organizations that share a common goal should be guided by their relationship with the United Nations and by international human rights and international humanitarian law. His country will continue to fight for a world of peace where people can thrive in societies that are inclusive and respectful of fundamental rights and freedoms.

JEAN BAPTISTE LEMOYNE, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, affirmed that countering the threat of terrorism is a core responsibility of the Security Council and that robust international must be promoted under United Nations principles. It was important for all regions to work together in the same regard. The European Union is active in the Central Asia region, with a new strategy to tackle the root causes of violent extremism. Young people’s education is an important element of the strategy. His country will continue to play its role in moving forward international cooperation in all these areas.

NIELS ANNEN, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, affirmed that international cooperation is central to the success of counter terrorist strategies and he welcomed the work of the organizations speaking to the Council today. His country puts particular emphasis on new technologies and regional cooperation, he said, adding that it is also active in supporting West African countries in their struggle against terrorism.

He stressed that success in countering terrorism is dependent on respect for human rights principles within the United Nations framework. Negative encounters with armed forces, even legitimate ones, are a major motivating factor for joining extremist groups. He urged all those fighting to terrorism to ensure that they stay morally superior to the extremists. In addition, a gender perspective is also highly important, as is addressing the root causes of terrorism. The in depth experience of regional organizations is particularly important in that respect.

MARCIN PRZYDACZ, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Poland, urged the United Nations to multiply its efforts with regional organizations, which have a narrower geographic focus and sometimes better understand local challenges. He touched on Poland’s active role in the European Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Such regional organizations will contribute to international peace only if they act as honest brokers whose actions result from consensus among their member States.

Without full respect for such basic rules, it would be difficult to define what is the goal of potential cooperation, he continued, calling it justified to expect Shanghai Cooperation Organisation members to accommodate both the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Such regional organizations truly play their roles when they are not used as tools for domination. Those willing to partner with the United Nations in fighting terrorism must promote among their members the principles of inviolability of State borders, recognition of existing borders and rejection of unlawful territorial annexations. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s position, as well as those of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and Commonwealth of Independent States on the illegal annexation of parts of Ukraine’s territory places their impartiality in question. In addition, the lack of will to take appropriate measures regarding the 2008 conflict in Georgia casts a shadow on the United Nations’ promotion of peace and security.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) voiced her support for the importance of international humanitarian law, as well as for the work of organizations including the European Union, NATO and OSCE. Welcoming these counter terrorism partnerships, she underscored that as threats evolve, cooperation is vital to address cross border movements. Such cooperation must be anchored in the United Nations, the Security Council and the General Assembly. Promoting gender equality is an important component of countering terrorism and violent extremism. Turning to counter terrorism cooperation, she said she hopes that States will work together to prevent terrorism in all aspects. Military and law enforcement measures alone will not suffice. The root causes need to be tackled.

GBOLIA� DA�SIRA� WULFRAN IPO (CAte d’Ivoire) said that terrorism represents one of the more serious contemporary threats to international peace and security. States individually cannot find a solution. Fortunately, there is an awareness that a collective approach is needed, as is an approach through regional and subregional mechanisms. With regards to regional crisis, particularly in Afghanistan, the political insecurity situation requires great attention. The capacity of security institutions must also be strengthened.

Mr. BALAREZO (Peru), noting that Latin American countries played a large role in developing Chapter VIII modalities under the United Nations Charter, concurred with the importance of fighting terrorism collectively. However, it must be done with full respect for international law. Expressing respect for the three regional organizations present, he said they are performing important work in implementing the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy in a manner that is based on local specificities and addresses porous borders and organized crime. A gender strategy and a defence of the rights of children are also important elements in combating terrorism. Pledging his country’s support to efforts led by the Council to fight terrorism, he also warned of the dangers posed by the Government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States), commending the Governments of Central Asia on their efforts to counter the threat of foreign terrorism, said that all Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) affiliates must be targeted across the globe. Regional efforts must be strengthened and coordinated in the fight. All efforts must be conducted in line with Security Council strategies and human rights principles. In Syria, on the other hand, attacks on civilians and hospitals are being legitimized as part of the fight against terrorism. Such attacks must stop. He also expressed serious concern regarding the Xinjiang Province of China, emphasizing that an entire minority group must not be suppressed in order to stop terrorist acts. He urged regional organizations to fully respect international law. Regional organizations must engage with civil society while fighting terrorism. His country is committed to working with all partners in fighting terrorism and violent extremism.

WU HAITAO (China) took the floor a second time, voicing his objection to what he called the groundless accusation and smears against China made by the United States representative. Rejecting all such claims, he said that deradicalization measures taken by China have effectively curbed terrorism and safeguarded the right of survival of all people in Xinjiang. He urged the United States to stand with the Chinese people in that regard. There must be no double standards. He pointed to the wars in Libya, Iraq and Syria as factors in the increase in terrorism and called for examination of the role of all actors in that regard.

Ms. PIERCE (United Kingdom), also taking the floor again, said she shared the concerns of the United States in regard to Xinjiang.

MUKHTAR TILEUBERDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said that when it was an elected Member of the Council in 2018, his country played special attention to the issue of conflict settlement. Kazakhstan has developed a code of conduct to create a world free of terrorism. He called upon all countries to take 10 steps to help eradicate terrorism by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the United Nations. His country has also ratified all of the United Nations sectorial conventions on countering terrorism.

In the period 2020 2022, his Government intends to include the issue of counter terrorism among its military and political priorities, he said. On the subject of foreign terrorist fighters, a humanitarian initiative has been conducted to bring back fighters from Syria who participated in terrorist activities. As well, efforts are being made to return 12 children from Iraq whose mothers have received life sentences for terrorist activities.

CHINGIZ AIDARBEKOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, said that the United Nations and regional organizations have unique and complementary capabilities that, if successfully coordinated, can make a great contribution to the cause of international peace and security. Countering terrorism should be based on a strong interaction chain between States, organizations and associations. He underscored the efforts to ensure regional security by such organizations as the Collective Security Treaty Organization, CIS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The member States of these organizations are united in understanding the central role of the United Nations in countering the forces of the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism, he continued. The international community should develop and implement a global strategy on countering new challenges and threats under the auspices of the United Nations and on the solid foundation of international law. International cooperation should become an effective tool in combating terrorism and extremism and its legal basis should be strengthened in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, as well as the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.

VLADIMIR MAKEI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that it is important to note that, during the previous session of the General Assembly, three resolutions were adopted that stressed the need to cooperate with these regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security. The world is not becoming more predictable. There is a lack of trust between States.

This has led to a disregard for the norms of international law and attempts to destabilize regions, he continued. Terrorist activity is not standing still but is constantly evolving, as there are more and more atypical forms of terrorism. It can only be combated through the joint efforts of all States and with the close coordination of regional organizations under the auspices of the United Nations. This is a precondition for sustainable development, he noted.

SIRODJIDDIN MUHRIDDIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, affirmed that only joint efforts could counter the serious transnational threats to international peace and security posed by terrorism and travels of foreign terrorist fighters. He described his country’s cooperation with CIS in that regard, as well as its work with the Collective Security Treaty Organization on areas such as trafficking in persons and illicit drugs.

He emphasized the importance of the organizations in maintaining security on his country’s border with Afghanistan and called for a negotiated end to violence in the latter country to stem threats. Tajikistan is committed to implementing the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, he stated, and invited all to a related side event co sponsored by his country on 27 September.

ELMAR MAHARRAM OGLU MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, pointed out that his country’s sensitive geographic location and the continuation of unresolved conflicts in the region with ethnic cleansing and occupation of its sovereign territory increase the level of transborder threats, including terrorism. Since the end of the 1980s, externally directed terrorist attacks have been repeatedly perpetrated against Azerbaijan as a means of realizing unlawful territorial claims. He also described how areas of armed conflict and those under foreign military occupation are often fertile ground for terrorists, organized criminal groups and networks that aim to benefit from the exploitation of natural resources, the illicit trafficking of drugs and cultural property, money laundering and related crimes.

As a member of CIS, Azerbaijan works closely with other member countries on a bilateral basis and based on the principles of sovereign equality and the territorial integrity of States, he said. His country is also a dialogue partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and is working within that framework to strengthen its regional security and stability; counter terrorism, extremism and separatism; and combat drug trafficking and related criminal activities.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, underlining the relevant role of the three organizations who briefed the Council today, described regional cooperation as long overdue in our region which encompasses the States of the Hormuz Strait community. Recalling that President Hassan Rouhani presented Iran’s new Hormuz Peace Endeavour initiative in his address before the General Assembly earlier today, he also welcomed the security arrangements proposed by the Russian Federation in the Persian Gulf.

The Hormuz Peace Endeavour is founded on the fact that all States of the region have the responsibility to ensure its collective peace, stability and prosperity, he continued. They therefore have a common and vital interest in maintaining freedom of navigation and energy security, and in preventing war, violence, extremism, terrorism and sectarian tension. The initiative aims to promote solidarity, mutual understanding and peaceful and friendly relations between all States of the region. It also aims to ensure the territorial integrity, political independence and international boundaries of those States and to cooperate in the eradication of terrorism, extremism and sectarian tensions, including through enhanced communication and early warning.

ABDULAZIZ KAMILOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, said that regional arrangements have great potential for preventing terrorism. Priorities for his country include the prevention of radicalization and dealing with returnees who have been associated with terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq, many of whom are women and children. Central Asia has developed many frameworks to ensure its own security but also needs broad international support, he stressed.

As neighbours of Afghanistan, the countries in the region must also emphasize that Afghanistan is not merely a challenge, but also represents a great deal of potential for contributing to the regional economy, he continued. He pledged that his country will continue to bolster the peace process that could make that possible, along with other efforts to improve the situation for the Afghan people. In addition, he called for a renewed focus on education to counter radicalization.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, observed that the threat of terrorism has become more diffused. He also stressed that terrorism should not be associated with any particular civilization, nationality or ethnic group, noting that acts of vandalism against cultural monuments in Iraq and Syria represent a case in point.

Armenia remains firmly committed to the global fight against terrorism, he continued. His Government values the existing cooperative platforms that amplify national efforts. The recent visit to Armenia conducted by the Counter Terrorism Executive Director highlighted his country’s progress in the fight against terrorism.

MAKHDOOM SHAH MAHMOOD HUSSAIN QURESHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, voiced his support for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s burgeoning work with various United Nations specialized agencies, programmes and funds. His country has taken action to uproot the threat and will continue its efforts with its regional and international partners.

He went on to say that certain elements and factors indicated in the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy need to be focused on, including the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism. South Asia continues to be challenged by common enemies such as poverty, illiteracy and under development, he said, noting that political challenges further compound this predicament. It is important to seize opportunities for peaceful solutions to outstanding disputes.

TSOGTBAATAR DAMDIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, welcomed the United Nations framework for fighting terrorism, expressing hope that it will continue to increase assistance to Member States in implementing necessary measures. Describing the steps that his country has taken in that regard, he said that Mongolia has concluded many agreements to share information and pursue security efforts with regional countries.

He pointed out that greater emphasis on targeted capacity building assistance for Member States is still needed, as terrorist cells spread into many of the world’s weaker economies and home grown terrorism takes hold. A uniform anti terrorist capacity could be set and met across all countries. Measures curbing the lure of illicit traffic in drugs are also necessary. He went on to describe events co organized by his Government to stem radicalization of youth and promote inter ethnic dialogue.

SHRI V. MURALEEDHARAN, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, underscoring that terrorism, drug trafficking, transnational crime, pandemics and environmental degradation are transnational challenges, stressed that the response must be coordinated across borders. Terrorist groups have links across regions and continents, in terms of recruitment, financing and operation. Expressing India’s commitment to combating the phenomenon in all its forms and manifestations, he underlined the need to not only disrupt and eliminate terror networks but also identify and hold accountable those States that encourage, support or finance them.

He called upon all Member States to work together to expedite the adoption of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism in the General Assembly. Regional and subregional groups can also play an important role in fostering the cooperation and coordination needed to effectively combat terrorist networks. India has been a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation since 2017. Members of that framework should explore how its regional anti terrorism structure can provide a more effective platform for cooperation through the exchange of information, capacity building, mutual legal assistance, sharing of best practices and cooperation at such multilateral forums as the United Nations.

PETER BURIAN, Special Representative for Central Asia, European Union, said Central Asia was one of the first regions to adopt a joint plan for the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, prepared with European Union funding. Spotlighting the recently convened Dushanbe and Ashgabat conferences also supported by the European Union as examples of promoting regional cooperation to address terrorism and its financing, he said the bloc also recently laid out its new Strategy for Central Asia covering multiple dimensions including security. The plan conveys the European Union’s strong commitment to develop a stronger, more modern and non exclusive partnership through enhanced cooperation in multilateral forums and with the United Nations at its core.

He went on to describe various development assistance initiatives in the region that focus on counter terrorism and preventing and countering violent extremism, including the Support to Resilience against Violent Extremism Global Programme. Calling the prevention and suppression of terrorism financing both a priority and obligation of States, he also stressed that it is critical to ensure that efforts are effective while not limiting the space in which humanitarian actors can operate in a principled manner. The bloc is also committed to ensuring the implementation of Security Council resolution 2396 (2017) related to the threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters. It is crucial to hold those fighters accountable for their actions and maximize the possibility of successful prosecution while respecting international law, he stated.

Source: United Nations

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