Sumario: June 24, 2005: Address by Mr Gijs de Vries, European Union Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to Resolution 1267 (1999) concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban (New York)
Thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the work of the EU in the field of counter-terrorism and to exchange views with you on how we can work together in this common fight. Terrorism knows no boundaries. It is global in scale and demands a global response. The UN is the very embodiment of the global approach to dealing with problems of such a wide scope and we believe that it should be at the heart of the fight against terror. The EU and the UN share common values which underpin all
our actions in this field - rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights. We are committed to supporting the UN in the fight against terror, 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. So it was very useful that we have been able to have a series of meetings this year between the EU and representatives of the 1267 Committee. The seminar on sanctions organized by the EU Presidency in New York helped understanding on both sides of how we can improve implementation of the resolution. And we were grateful that members of the Committee came over to Brussels in March for discussions. I am pleased that Ambassador Mayoral had the chance to address the EU Committee of Permanent Representatives on 4 May. We, for our part, were able to explain in more detail how the EU works in this area. Now it is my turn to address you on behalf of the Presidency of the EU. I would like to start by giving you a brief overview of what the EU is doing in the field of counter-terrorism before moving on to talk about the UN and our co-operation with the 1267 Committee.
EU Action in the fight against terrorism
Since 2001, Member States have adopted a wide range of measures to defend themselves against terrorism. The first and foremost line of defence in this fight is provided by the competent authorities of the Member States themselves. The European Union does not seek to intervene in areas where Member States can take the most effective action themselves. Clearly this applies to certain intelligence and police operations which require discretion and the ability to act quickly. But at the European level we can add value to these operations by creating the framework for co-operation between the relevant services of the Member States; by setting standards for best practice; by improving security and preparedness on a European wide basis; and by adding the collective weight of the EU behind our efforts to promote the fight against terrorism on the international stage.
The European Union therefore drew up an Action Plan in June 2004 containing over 100 actions to be taken over the next eighteen months which would implement practical steps to improve our capacity to fight terrorism. These actions are grouped under five priority headings which can briefly be summed up as:
i. Information sharing and law enforcement co-operation
ii. Terrorist Financing
iii. Civil protection and the protection of critical infrastructure
iv. Radicalization and recruitment
v. External relations
We have just completed an update of the Action Plan which shows that much has been achieved. Thanks to the professionalism of our security services and law enforcement agencies, several major attacks on European targets have been foiled; terrorist suspects were brought to trial and have been convicted. However, much still remains to be done. I would now like to say a few words about each of our priorities to put in context what the EU is doing in the fight against terror.
Exchange of Information
In their telling report into the attacks on the World Trade Center, the 9/11 Commission said that in the field of intelligence co-operation the US needed to move from a mentality of "need to know to need to share". To improve information sharing is a key objective of the European Union's counter-terrorism strategy. Last year the European 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 terrorism task force. At the same time, stimulated by action taken at the European level, the culture of intelligence exchange within the Union is changing as the various services, both within each Member State and between different groupings of Member States, improve their co-operation and sharing of intelligence. The EU has completed a peer evaluation of national arrangements in the fight against terrorism in which we have identified best practices in domestic coordination and information sharing.
In the Hague Programme on Freedom, Security and Justice adopted at the end of 2004, the European Council called for "an innovative approach" to the cross border exchange of law enforcement information. Under this approach, 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 is now working on proposals to implement this principle of availability. It is also aiming to simplify the exchange of information between law enforcement agencies, including the enhanced interoperability of European databases.
Terrorists need money to prepare and carry out attacks. Some people say that the amounts now needed to fund attacks are so small (the Madrid bombing is estimated to have cost no more than a few thousand dollars) that it is not worth bothering about this aspect of terrorism. But there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Large flows of money have been crossing continents to support terrorist networks and fund their activities. It is a measure of the success that the international community has had in closing down major funding routes and impeding the free flow of money that terrorists are now being forced to rely on lower level, local funding. And because we are making it much more difficult for them to move money through official channels, we are slowing them down and denigrating their capability.
Much of the success in this field is due to the work being done by the Financial Action Task Force. The European Union supports this work and recognizes the contribution it has made to the effective implementation of financial sanctions. At their meeting in Singapore earlier this month the FATF agreed on an interpretation of Special Recommendation VII on wire transfers. A Regulation on this has been a priority in the EU Action Plan and, following the agreement in Singapore, we are now ready to make progress on this Regulation. Other work based on the FATF Recommendations is going forward. The new Money Laundering Directive will update EU practices in line with the revised Forty Recommendations of the FATF and extend existing legislation in the field of money laundering to cover terrorist financing; a proposal implementing FATF SR VI on alternative remittances will soon be issue and the European Commission is preparing a draft code of conduct for charities to implement FATF SR III.
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 making 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 we have agreed recently 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. We are engaging engaging with moderate Muslims in defence of our common commitment to 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. In recognition of this fact, the EU has decided to mainstream the issue of terrorism in its relations with third countries. We are intensifying our 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.
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.
Of course 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 in this field. The EU is committed to ensuring that these Resolutions are effective. 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. 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 signature and ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption and welcomes 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.
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 seeking greater security for their citizens which will in turn feed the cycle of violence.
Security should not be sought at the expense of liberty. We must not fall into the trap of "undermining or even destroying democracy on the grounds of defending it", to quote the words of the European Court of Human Rights, expressed in the context of the Red Army and Baader-Meinhof terrorism in Germany in 1978 and reaffirmed each time the Court has dealt with cases concerning terrorism. Benjamin Franklin's famous words "Those that would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security deserve neither liberty nor security" are as true today as they were then terrorism."
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.
EU Implementation of 1267
I should like now to turn in more detail to UN Security Council Resolution 1267 and what it means for the EU. This Resolution was a milestone in setting the agenda and sustaining the momentum in the global fight against terror. Yesterday I addressed the 1373 Committee, whose work is equally important in the fight against terror. There is of course a difference between the assistance and capacity building objectives which they are pursuing and the operational counter-terrorist objectives of the sanctions regime in 1267. But both committees, indeed all the various UN counter-terrorism committees, are working towards the same end and co-ordination will be important if we are to achieve our goal. Resolution 1566 called for closer co-operation between all the 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.
We fully support the work of your Committee and have been impressed by the professional and comprehensive reports by the Monitoring Team established pursuant to Resolution 1526, which have highlighted some of the problems involved in effective implementation of the Resolution 1267. Clearly problems remain and we are keen to work with you to address them. The EU welcomes the efforts made by the Committee and the Monitoring Team to improve the sanctions regime and its implementation and we look forward to receiving the third report of the Team, which I understand will be published shortly.
The EU has fully implemented the Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions regime set out in this Resolution, and those which followed, in its internal legal order, thus ensuring uniform application throughout the EU's Member States of the different measures to be taken in relation to those designated on the consolidated list as belonging to or associated with either organization. Unlike in the case of Resolution 1373, where the EU established its own autonomous list to fulfil its obligations, the list adopted by the 1267 Committee is transposed automatically into Community legislation.
Listing - especially of groups - clearly has an important political and psychological impact. Furthermore, these measures have limited the travel and financial activities, activities of terrorists and terrorist organisations. But it is of primary importance to ensure that the consolidated list is as operational and as effective as possible. It is essential to provide adequate identifying information concerning those on the list and those about to be listed, in order to allow proper enforcement of the sanctions. At the same time, the EU also attaches great importance to the respect for fundamental rights in the context of listings, including due process considerations. In this context, the EU considers that the recommendations concerning de-listing mentioned in the Monitoring Team's report deserve detailed examination, both in relation to de-listing procedures in general, including the possible justifications for de-listing, as well as in relation to a possible specific procedure concerning deceased persons. It is important that we get this list right. States will only add to it if they are confident that it is consistent with basic human rights. As the Monitoring Team's report points out, the list is a living document, relying on constant input from Member States. Upgrading its content and image can only help make the sanctions more effective.
I would like now to comment briefly in turn on the three areas of sanctions covered by Resolution 1267 and following resolutions. Looking first at the question of the assets freeze, as I have mentioned before, this has been fully implemented through legislation adopted by the European Union. We are constantly looking to update our best practice in the light of experience gained and further clarifications from FATF. New legislation on money laundering, with specific application to terrorist financing, and on cash remittances has been approved and will shortly come into force. We are also working on a code of conduct for charities in line with FATF Special Recommendation VIII. On the international front we have helped a number of countries to establish FIUs, including Morocco, Indonesia and the Philippines, and we held a successful conference with the Gulf Co-operation Council countries to explore ways in which we could work together in the field of terrorist financing - successful not just because we were able to agree on the importance of the issue but also because the GCC countries gave commitments to practical action in this area.
Asset freezing is an important weapon in the fight against terror. 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, some of these issues have been raised in court cases pending within the EU which challenge the Council's actions to freeze the assets of certain persons and groups. Of course 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 UN Security Council Resolutions. But it is clear that effective 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.
I should stress that, while the lists may be defined at the EU level, implementation of the restrictive measures for freezing takes place at national level. The EU is committed to monitoring national implementation in order to improve its effectiveness. The EU has recently adopted a guide to best practices on implementation of financial restrictive measures which contains a number of recommendations. These cover a range of issues including the relationship between administrative and judicial freezing and confiscation, identification of individuals as well as questions of mistaken identity. It is an ongoing process. We do not claim to have all the answers. But we are committed to ensuring that asset freezing is an effective tool in the fight against terrorist financing.
On the arms embargo, EU legislation has been in place for some time to regulate the traffic, acquisition, storage and trade in arms. After the adoption of Resolution 1390, establishing the arms embargo in relation to individuals and groups linked to Al-Qaida and the Taliban, the EU was therefore able to apply the experience already gained in this field to fulfilling its obligations in respect of the Resolution. This aspect of the 1267 Committee's work is the least highlighted, perhaps because it is uncontentious and, in comparison with some of the other issues, more easily implemented. But it is nevertheless an important part of the overall measures being taken to restrict terrorism. Manpads for instance continue to pose a serious threat to civil aviation. The Monitoring Team's recommendations for establishing effective national controls on these devices deserve close examination. Looking more widely at measures to reduce the access of terrorists to arms, we have undertaken a number of actions which are helpful in this cause. We have for instance worked closely with the Russians to reduce their chemical and nuclear stockpiles; we have made many improvements to air travel security, both within the Union and in co-operation with our international partners (port security is now also receiving the attention it deserves); and the EU has established various instruments regulating the transfer of light weapons, such as the Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, the common position on arms brokering and the Programme of Action to Prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms.
Clearly, there is a link between the Monitoring Team and the work of the Committee established under Resolution 1540 introducing measures to prevent non-State actors gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. I note that the Team are planning to address the connection between terrorism and WMD in their forthcoming June report and I look forward to reading their recommendations. It is an issue which concerns me closely as EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and one which all national governments face. Although the experts say that the prospect of, for instance, a bio-terrorist attack is at present remote, we know that Al-Qaida has researched the materials for such an attack and is still keen on acquiring chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. However small the chance of a terrorist group being able to conduct a CBRN attack, the consequences of such an attack would be devastating. We need to ensure that our work on terrorism and on WMD is joined up to prevent this from happening.
On the question of the travel ban, I am glad that we were able to have such detailed discussions with members of your Committee in Brussels to outline how the special arrangements of the EU work. The purpose of the Schengen Convention is to enhance the security of our citizens. Its provisions are designed to ensure that, while in principle allowing the freedom of movement within the territory of the Member States, we apply strict and effective controls at the external borders. The objective of these controls is to deny listed individuals entry to the territory of any of the Member States of the EU. A major issue in this context is that sufficient identifiers must be provided to allow for accurate targeting of the individuals concerned. Further consideration is needed on how best to improve the identifying information provided concerning the individuals listed.
The reliability of travel documents also plays an important role. We must make it more difficult for terrorists and those who support them to travel using forged documents. This is why the EU has just agreed new standards for security features and biometrics in travel documents. It has also recently agreed rules for the exchange of passport data by Member States with Interpol, as a result of which we are now feeding information on lost and stolen passports into their database. We believe all Member States of the UN should transmit their data on lost and stolen passports to Interpol. The more effective Interpol's database will become, the better we will be able to combat identify fraud by terrorists and other criminals.
Two special categories of individuals in relation to the area without border controls are those who are nationals of a Member State or are in possession of a residence permit issued by a Member State. In principle, such individuals cannot be the subject of an alert in the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the purposes of refusing entry. However, under certain strict conditions it is possible for Member States to deny such individuals entry into their territories for reasons of public policy or public security. Therefore, if they are found within the territory of another Member State they can be returned to their state of origin or residence. Their state of origin or residence can also monitor or otherwise restrict their movement in accordance with national rules. It would be interesting to compare examples of practices developed by other States in relation to the treatment of their own listed nationals or listed foreign nationals to whom they have issued a residence permit.
I should also point out that within the Schengen area in particular and within the EU in general a wide range of measures have been developed to ensure maximum co-operation between police and judicial authorities. The sophistication of the Schengen Information System allows data on a range of issues to be shared in real time between the law enforcement agencies of the Member States. SIS allows a policeman on the beat to connect electronically to the central data base. So a minor infringement of the law ( eg a parking or speeding offence) would lead to identification as a designated individual where that individual has been made the subject of an alert in the SIS and a return to his country of origin or residence.
It has now been some time since Europe suffered a major terrorist attack and we must be thankful for that. But the threat has not gone away. Terrorism has continued to claim the lives of men, women and children in many parts of the world. Indeed, in some respects the world is now facing a more complex and dangerous challenge than it did after 9/11. Yes, we have achieved some notable successes against the organized network of Al-Qaida. But, partly as a result of these accomplishments, the threat has become more diverse, less transparent and more difficult to pin down as the ideological message of Osama Bin Laden and his allies inspires small, and as yet unidentified groups, to take up the fight. In countries that have been spared attacks in recent years there is a risk that the public commitment to the fight against terror may weaken. Terrorists, however, are known to exploit situations where they expect to meet least resistance. Countries that would allow themselves to become a weak link in the global chain against terrorism would not only endanger the lives of their own citizens, but the lives of people elsewhere in the world. This is why the fight against terrorism is, and must remain, everybody's business.
The European Union therefore supports Secretary-General Annan's call for a clear "principled, comprehensive strategy" in the global fight against terrorism based on the recommendations of the High Level Panel. This strategy is based on five elements, the so called "five Ds". You will already be familiar with them but I repeat them here because they are also fundamental to the way in which the EU is pursuing its counter terrorism strategy:
Dissuade disaffected groups from choosing terrorism;
Deny terrorists the means to carry out their attacks;
Deter states from supporting terrorists;
Develop state capacity to prevent terrorism;
Defend human rights in the struggle against terrorism.
If we can do all of these things we will have gone a long way towards a sixth D - Defeating terrorism.
As we work towards the UN Summit later this year, the "Freedom from Fear" element of the Secretary General's report puts the fight against terrorism firmly into context. The European Union agrees that "no State, however powerful, can protect itself on its own; no country weak or strong, can realize prosperity in a vacuum". The European Union is determined to promote an effective multilateral approach to terrorism with the UN as its heart. We look forward to working closely with you, the members of this Committee, to achieve this goal.