Sumario: June 23, 2005: Address by Mr Gijs de Vries, European Union Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, to the Counter-Terrorism Committee established by the United Nations pursuant to Resolution 1373 (2001)(New York)
I am very pleased to be here in New York today to talk to you in my capacity as the European Union's Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator and on behalf of the Presidency of the EU about what the European Union is doing in the fight against terrorism and in particular how we can work together with the UN in this field. Modern terrorism is truly global in scale. It knows no boundaries. For this reason, the EU regards the role of the UN in meeting and overcoming this challenge as vital. We are
committed to supporting you in this, through unequivocal implementation of UN conventions and resolutions, through political and moral support in the world for the UN's role and, wherever possible, through practical co-operation on the ground.
Practical co-operation begins through dialogue and understanding each other's concerns. That is why I am here today. It is also why the EU Presidency and I were pleased to be able to welcome Ambassador Javier Ruperez to Brussels earlier this week. I hope it was useful for him to see at first hand how we in the EU are working against terrorism and to talk to some of those involved in this work. It was certainly useful from our perspective to set out some of our concerns and to explain how we are addressing them. And conversely, it was important for us to hear directly from Ambassador Ruperez how the EU can contribute most effectively to achieving the goals of UN Security Council Resolution 1373. My visit today is aimed at furthering that dialogue and understanding.
EU Action in the fight against terrorism
Let me therefore begin by giving you a short overview of what the EU is doing in the field of counter-terrorism before I cover our own implementation of the Resolution and cooperation in the work of the 1373 Committee.
Since 2001 EU Member States have adopted a wide range of policies to defend themselves against terrorism. Part of their response has involved strengthening the role of the European Union. The Council has adopted important legislative measures and policies to facilitate cross-border cooperation by national law enforcement authorities and intelligence agencies. In June 2004 the European Council adopted a Plan of Action containing well over 100 initiatives to be taken during the Dutch, Luxembourg and British Presidencies, taking us up to the end of 2005.
The Council reviewed this Plan of Action in December 2004 and, based on the conclusions of that meeting, the EU identified a number of priority areas to be addressed in 2005. These are: information sharing and law enforcement co-operation; combating terrorist financing; civil protection and protection of critical infrastructure; addressing the causes of radicalization and recruitment which lie at the heart of terrorist activity; and mainstreaming counter-terrorism in the EU's external relations. Already under the Luxembourg Presidency much work has been achieved and last week the European Council took note of progress on the Action Plan so far this year. The British Presidency will now take this forward with a view to making further progress by the end of the year. I would like now to say something about the priorities in the Plan.
Exchange of Information
Timely and accurate information - its collection, analysis and dissemination - is essential to prevent acts of terrorism and to bring terrorist suspects to justice. Progress is being made in implementing the decisions of the Council to improve the exchange of terrorism related information. Last year the Council decided to stimulate co-operation among Europe's security and intelligence services by reinforcing the Situation Centre (SitCen) in the Council Secretariat. As a result, SitCen now provides the Council with strategic analysis of the terrorist threat based on intelligence from Member States' security and intelligence services and, where appropriate, on information provided by Europol. Meanwhile, Europol is also strengthening its counter-terrorism task force. Eurojust is playing an increasingly prominent role in co-ordinating the work of our national investigators and prosecutors. We have created an additional agency to improve information exchange and co-operation among the border authorities of the 25 member states. Co-operation with partners elsewhere is the world is a key component of the work of all three agencies.
In the Hague Programme on Freedom, Security and Justice adopted at the end of 2004, the Heads of State and Government called for "an innovative approach" to the cross border exchange of law enforcement information. Information should be provided according to the principle of availability, which means that a law enforcement officer who needs information in order to perform his duties can obtain this from another Member State, subject to certain conditions. The European Commission has been invited to submit proposals before the end of 2005 to implement this availability principle. The Commission has also been asked to submit a range of proposals aimed at simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement agencies, including the enhanced interoperability of European databases. The EU has carried out a peer review of the arrangements in the fight against terrorism in each member state. Best practices have been identified with respect to domestic co-ordination mechanisms, information sharing, and other issues.
Terrorists need money to prepare and carry out attacks. Identifying and disrupting the mechanisms through which terrorism is funded are therefore key elements of the Union's counter-terrorism strategy. An important part of EU policy on this issue emanates from the Financial Action Task Force. We support the work of FATF and recognize the contribution it has made to improving the effectiveness of the implementation of financial sanctions. In December 2004 the European Council adopted a strategy for the fight against terrorist financing which included a number of specific actions. The first results of this strategy are already becoming apparent. The Third Money Laundering Directive was agreed by the European Parliament and the Council earlier this month and will come into force in September. The purpose of the Directive is to update EU practices in line with the revision of FATF standards to reflect international best practices embodied in the revised Forty-plus-Nine Recommendations of the FATF. The Directive will also extend legislation in the money laundering field to cover terrorist financing. One practical result of this is that any transaction suspected of being associated with terrorist financing must be reported to national Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and from there to Europol, where it will be entered on their database and analyzed along with other data to establish a pattern of activity.
Another piece of legislation now close to adoption is a Regulation on controls of cash entering or leaving the EU. Parliament and the Council have now agreed the text and final adoption will take place in the coming months. This Regulation will oblige anyone entering or leaving the EU to declare any sum of cash or travellers cheques in excess of 10,000 euros. It empowers national authorities to stop and search people and to detain cash that has not been declared.
Among future measures, I should mention a Commission proposal for a regulation implementing FATF SR VII on wire transfers which is ready to issue following the recent agreement by FATF in Singapore on how to interpret this Recommendation; a forthcoming code of conduct for charities, which will provide better regulation (while ensuring that the good purposes for which most of them exist are not harmed) to prevent them from being misused to channel funds to terrorist organizations; and a proposal for a legal framework for payments, which will include implementation of FATF SR VI on alternative remittances.
Civil Protection and the Protection of Critical Infrastructure
Civil protection and emergency response management for the most part fall under the national competence of Member States. Nevertheless, the Heads of State and Government have declared their firm intention "to act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if one of them is the victim of a terrorist attack" and have pledged to mobilize all the instruments at their disposal, including military resources, to assist a Member State affected by such an attack. The Commission is now preparing proposals to protect the Union's critical infrastructure, such as transport, energy and communications. The EU is also committed to improving its capabilities to prevent and respond to bioterrorism and other non-conventional threats and we have agreed with the US authorities that this is an area for closer co-operation.
Radicalization and Recruitment
We can only defeat terrorism in the long term by preventing the next generation of terrorists from emerging. To do this we need to understand the reasons which drive people, both within and outside the Union, to turn to terrorism and to devise a strategy to prevent this from happening. The EU has therefore set as one of its priorities for 2005 a study of radicalization and recruitment which will underpin recommendations on how to address the problem.
Much work has been done on this subject. Suffice it to say that it is a complex one and finding common threads, let alone the strategy to address them, will not be easy. But we are determined to carry this through. The experiences of our partners in this field will be valuable in helping us to reach the right conclusions. Meanwhile, the EU is keen to help partners address background factors which may contribute to radicalization and recruitment in their own countries. We actively support work to improve educational systems and the quality of governance and we value the reforms that have already been undertaken in several countries.
The UN and EU have similar agendas in addressing factors underlying recruitment and support for terrorism. There is general recognition that regional conflicts, bad governance and state failure can provide fertile ground for recruitment into terrorism. Efforts to resolve regional conflicts and to promote human rights and good governance must therefore be at the heart of international counter-terrorism strategies. The EU and its Member States are already providing most of the world's official development aid. The EU Development Ministers recently announced agreement to increase the collective aid target for the EU to 0.56% of GNI by 2010. This would result in an additional € 20 billion a year in official development aid - a significant boost aimed at moving faster towards the UN Millennium Goals and to attain the internationally agreed target of 0.7%. Reducing poverty in the world is not only a moral duty but it also contributes in a practical way towards ensuring our own security. Efforts to prevent military conflict and terrorism are equally important to promote equity and growth. Development and security are two sides of the same coin. We need a joined up approach. This is why the EU's efforts to promote good governance, for instance in Iraq and Afghanistan, are an integral part of our counter-terrorism activities. This is also why the EU and its member states play an increasingly prominent role in peace-keeping operations in various parts of the world. In a more secure an more just world we will be better able to reduce the breeding grounds of terrorism and address the root causes of the problem. The European Union is committed to work with like-minded partners across national and religious boundaries and to engage with moderate Muslims to defend the fundamental rights of our citizens: the right to live in a humane and democratic society, free of terrorism and free of Islamophobia, antisemitism and other forms of prejudice. The dialogue with you, our partners in the UN, in this context is vital.
Terrorism is a global phenomenon that requires a global response. As UN Security Council Resolution 1566 clearly states, acts of terrorism are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature. Although many countries increasingly work together, much remains to be done to strengthen the global alliance against terrorism.
In recognition of this fact, the EU is now mainstreaming the issue of terrorism in its relations with third countries. We are intensifying the dialogue on counter-terrorism with third countries and counter-terrorism clauses are being introduced into all external agreements. We have for instance included a chapter on counter-terrorism in all the Action Plans we have agreed with our neighbours under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and I recently visited Jordan and Israel with a view to putting the commitments in those plans into practice. We have also reinforced co-operation within the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Europol, the organization charged with improving co-operation between the competent law enforcement agencies of the EU Member States, has concluded agreements with several countries and is expanding its link with others. Eurojust, which is tasked with the coordination of investigations and prosecutions, is moving in a similar direction.
The EU also provides aid and technical assistance to countries lacking the capability to implement the common legal framework set out by UN Resolutions and Conventions. Counter-terrorism assistance is already part of the aid strategy of the EU and its Member States and the Council has resolved to further enhance the contribution of the Union. The European Council has invited the European Commission to increase funding for capacity-building projects in third countries and to ensure that there is sufficient flexibility in the budgetary procedures to allow funds to be used imaginatively. The EU is working closely with several countries in order to help them build up their capacity to fight terrorism. Much of this aid and technical assistance is aimed at helping these countries to meet their commitments under UNSC 1373. It is therefore natural that the EU should work closely on this with your Committee and CTED and it was a good example of the co-operation which exists between us that I was able to accompany Mr Ruperez to Kenya and that representatives of the European Union joined the 1373 visits to Morocco and Albania earlier this year.
As I have said, an important part of the emphasis on the external dimension of the fight against terror involves working closely the United Nations. The UN is a key partner of the Union in this field. UN Security Council Resolutions 1267, 1373, 1540 and 1566 have considerably enhanced the role of the UN. The EU is committed to ensuring that these Resolutions are effective. It is important that all of the work we, and you, undertake in this field is joined up. Resolution 1566 called for closer co-operation between all the UN committees involved in counter terrorism work. The EU - and we have some experience of aligning different interests within our own structures -, would like to see such co-operation put into effect and we are keen to play our part in bringing it about. I am talking here not just about the work of the various committees but also about co-operation with and among the different bodies of the UN. UNODC, for instance, has an important role to play in implementing international action against terrorism, particularly in reviewing and helping to improve domestic legislation and providing training to national criminal justice systems. We are aiming, wherever possible, to include a UNODC official in our technical missions. And we recently invited the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) to Brussels for discussions with experts of the EU Member States on co-operation between their institute and the EU. Numerous UNICRI projects in the field of police co-operation involve the active participation of Europol and the law enforcement agencies of the Member States. We believe that the dialogue and active co-operation between the UN and EU are important both for the practical benefits they bring as well as for the signal they send about our commitment to fight terrorism together.
Furthermore, the EU is working hard to promote the universal ratification of all 12 UN Conventions in the fight against terrorism. In recent years the rate of ratification has gone up and the CTC can take much of the credit for this. Since the establishment of the CTC the total number of ratifications has gone up. Nevertheless, of the 191 Member States of the UN only some 60 are a party to all 12 instruments and more than two thirds have ratified fewer than six. To improve this record is one of the objectives of the EU's common foreign policy and security policy. The EU's own record in this field is not perfect. Not all of our own Member States have ratified all conventions. But by setting this as an objective of EU policy we are committed to this goal.
In addition to the existing 12 UN Conventions, the EU underlines the importance of ensuring the ratification of the UN Conventions against Corruption and Transnational Organized Crime. We welcome the recent adoption of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. We are also keen to see the adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism. Discussions on this have not always been easy but we should use the stimulus provided by the recommendations of the UN High Level Panel on terrorism, and endorsed by the UN Secretary General in his recent speech in Madrid, to push this to a conclusion.
We also fully support the work of the 1267 Committee in enforcing the sanctions against Al-Qaida and the Taliban. We have noted with interest the recent recommendations of the 1267 Monitoring Committee for improving the effectiveness of these sanctions and look forward to the 1267 Committee agreeing on the necessary improvements. It is important that the three areas of asset freezing, travel ban and arms embargo are properly covered, while ensuring that due process is observed because sanctions can only serve the cause for which they were set up if their implementation is consistent with the protection of human rights.
All of the work in the fight against terror which I have discussed so far would be worthless if it ignored the human rights dimension. Actions to counter terrorism and the protection of human rights need not be mutually exclusive. On the contrary, the protection of the most basic human right - the right to life - is at the heart of the struggle to prevent terrorism. Terrorists hope that by their actions they will provoke a repressive response from governments which will in turn feed the cycle of violence. But in the words of Abraham Lincoln, "Those who are ready to sacrifice freedom for security ultimately will lose both". It was true then and it is even more true today. Our belief in human rights is the cornerstone of the EU's policy in the fight against terror. That is why, for instance, in the EU we are in the process of strengthening our rules on data protection, so that information can be used where justified to improve our security while at the same time protecting the rights of the individual against abuse. And in our relations with third countries we aim to promote good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights in the fight against terror. We continue to remind states of their responsibility to implement counter-terrorism measures in conformity with international human rights and humanitarian law, consistent with UNSCR 1456.
We also urge all those who have not yet done so to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and to abide by its provisions. All EU member states have ratified this essential Convention. In addition, the EU Framework Decision establishing the European Arrest Warrant explicitly stipulates that "(n)o person should be removed, expelled or extradited to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". The more states respect human rights, the easier international judicial co-operation will become. Indeed, it is not a state's determination to respect human rights which is a stumbling block to closer co-operation in the fight against terrorism, but the failure of states to respect human rights. Technical assistance to reinforce the independence of the judiciary and ensure the respect of fair trial rights could an important component of the work of the UN in supporting international co-operation.
We therefore welcome the UN Secretary General's own commitment in this field when he said that "in the long term we shall find that human rights, along with democracy and social justice, are one of the best prophylactics against terrorism" and we note that the CTC itself has been in close dialogue with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in pursuing its mandate, according to the provisions of UNSCR 1535.
EU Implementation of 1373
I should like now to turn in more detail to UN Security Council Resolution 1373 and what it means for the EU. This Resolution was remarkable in that it gave the UN teeth in its fight against terror. It imposed obligations on Member States to respond to the global threat of terrorism and, by establishing the CTC and subsequently, CTED, the UN showed that on this issue it meant business. You have played a leading role in creating and sustaining momentum against terrorism and it is a tribute to your work that all 191 UN Member States have reported on their domestic efforts on counter terrorism.
In its own report to the CTC in May 2003, the European Union listed the wide range of legislation it had adopted in the areas covered by 1373, including Common Positions which commit the EU as a whole to full implementation of UNSC 1373 and provide the basis for more specific measures aimed at cutting off terrorist funding. In particular, a Council Regulation of December 2001 "freezes funds, financial assets and economic resources of, and prohibits the provision of financial services to, persons, groups and entities involved in terrorism". This Regulation stipulated that the Council should establish and maintain a list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorism and that this list would be constantly updated. This occurred most recently on 6 June 2005. The list is drawn up on the basis of investigations carried out by the competent judicial and police authorities of the Member States. It includes European based groups such as ETA and the IRA, as well as other groups such Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Listing - especially of groups - clearly has an important political and psychological impact. Furthermore, these measures have reduced the possibilities for terrorists and terrorist organisations to misuse the financial sector and have made it more difficult for organisations to raise and move funds. It is worth noting, however, that the transition from applying asset freezing measures primarily as a political measure against governments or persons linked to them (the original aim of most UN and EU sanctions regimes prior to 9/11) to freezing as a preventive measure, targeting terrorist individuals and groups, has led to a series of legal questions. These questions range from the criteria which should be applied and the evidence which is needed for administrative freezing, the relation of administrative freezing to judicial freezing, seizure and confiscation, to matters of due process, availability of de-listing procedures and the role of intelligence in the designation process. As you know, there are several court cases pending within the EU which challenge the Council's actions to freeze the assets of certain persons and groups. I do not want to prejudge these cases . We must await the decisions of the courts. In any event, the EU and Member States are committed to ensuring full respect for the asset freeze obligations under Resolution 1373.
We are constantly seeking to update our procedures in the light of the difficult legal and administrative implications involved in implementing 1373. But it is clear that effective freezing action will require the preparation of designations that are based on solid intelligence and information from competent authorities which comply with the agreed criteria for freezing. This will be the case whether those designations are being decided by the UN in the 1267 Committee, or by the EU itself for terrorist individuals, groups and entities not linked to Al-Qaida and the Taliban. This will require enhanced information sharing both within and between states, while respecting legal safeguards.
International Cooperation with the CTC
Looking now more widely at the international aspects of 1373, the reports submitted to the CTC by UN Member States show that many of them have the will to wage an effective fight against terrorism but that they do not have the legislative, institutional or technical means to do so. The EU is keen to work together with you to redress this balance. I have mentioned already that, at Ambassador Ruperez' invitation, I accompanied him on the UN mission to Kenya. And building on a UN mission to Morocco earlier this year, the EU sent a further experts mission there last week, to identify specific needs in the fields of judicial capacity, customs, and financial investigation and legislation. The results of this mission are now being evaluated and we hope that we will soon be in a position to agree on joint projects with the Moroccan government. This shows that close co-operation between the UN and the EU can yield practical results. Our efforts, I trust, will go some way towards enabling Morocco to meet its obligations under 1373. A further EU expert mission is scheduled for Algeria this week and we are discussing a similar arrangement for Tunisia later this year. All of these missions will be conducted with the aim of strengthening the fight against terror in the context of 1373 and we hope to continue our close cooperation with your Committee in this field.
In many parts of the world people continue to suffer horrendous and indiscriminate violence at the hands of terrorists. In Europe, fortunately, it has been some while now since there has been a major terrorist attack. There is a certain risk that in countries where terrorists have not recently engaged in violence - in Europe and elsewhere in the world - public attention may turn to other matters. But let there be no mistake. The threat of terrorism is as severe today as it has ever been. While we have been successful in degrading the capabilities of Al-Qaida, the threat has become more complex and in some ways more challenging as the ideological message of Usama Bin Laden provides inspiration to smaller and less well known groups, which are more difficult to track and suppress. We must therefore do all we can to ensure that the commitment in the fight against terrorism does not weaken because there is still a long way to before we can declare victory.
Kofi Annan set out a clear "principled, comprehensive strategy" based on the recommendations of the High Level Panel. The different elements of this strategy provide a framework for action to counter the threat of terrorism on a global basis, while ensuring that human rights and the rule of law are always respected. The principles of this strategy, and the values underlying it, are ones to which the EU is fully committed. We look forward to working together with you to achieve our common goals.