Sommaire: EU Presidency Statement - Informals on a Counter-Terrorism Strategy (New York, 11 May 2006)
Informal Consultations of the Plenary of the General Assembly on a Counter-Terrorism Strategy; Statement by Minister Alexander Marschik, Deputy Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
I would like to congratulate you on your appointment by the President of the General Assembly as Co-Chairmen for the informal consultations on the counter-terrorism strategy. We would like to assure you of our full support and are confident that under your able leadership and guidance we will be able to fulfil the important task assigned to us by our Heads of State and Government at the World Summit last September.
Terrorism continues to be one of the most serious threats to international peace and security of our century. Recent terrorist attacks across the world remind us that this threat is ever present. The European Union extends its deepest condolences to the victims and their families. Our condemnation of terrorist attacks is unequivocal, and our message to those who seek to impose their views on others through the indiscriminate targeting of innocent people is clear: Terrorism is criminal and unjustifiable under any circumstances.
Terrorism is a threat to all States and to all peoples. Terrorism knows no borders. It is a global threat that requires a global and comprehensive response. In a global fight against terrorism, the United Nations has a unique role to play. Thirteen universal conventions and protocols have been adopted in the framework of the United Nations that criminalize specific acts of terrorism including hijacking, hostage-taking and nuclear terrorism. At the 2005 Summit our World Leaders stressed the need to make every effort to conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism during the 60th session of the General Assembly. The European Union hopes that an agreement on this convention can be reached soon in order to achieve the objective agreed at the Summit. Together with Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999), 1373 (2001), 1390 (2002), 1540 (2004), 1566 (2004), 1624 (2005) and 1673 (2006), these conventions provide the legal framework for multilateral action against terrorism.
In our view it is imperative that the United Nations and its Member States continue to show their unity and resolve in the global fight against terrorism: We thus look forward to the speedy adoption and implementation of a global strategy against terrorism to promote comprehensive, coordinated and consistent responses, at the national, regional and international levels, to counter terrorism, as was mandated by the World Summit.
More than a year ago, in March 2005, on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the terrorist train bombings in Madrid, the Secretary-General set out the elements of a comprehensive global counter-terrorism strategy consisting of five pillars: (1) dissuasion, (2) denial, (3) deterrence, (4) development of State capacity, and (5) defence of human rights. The World Summit requested the Secretary-General to submit proposals to strengthen the capacity of the UN system to assist States in combating terrorism and enhance coordination of UN activities in this regard.
Today, we have before us the report of the Secretary-General entitled "Uniting against terrorism" (A/60/825), which contains detailed recommendations for a global strategy. The report emphasizes operational elements with respect to each of the five pillars, with a particular focus on capacity-building, coordination and cooperation. The European Union highly commends the Secretary-General for his work. Our thanks also go to the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force headed by Bob Orr, which assisted in preparing this document. We believe that the present report is a pivotal element of our concerted efforts to combat the global terrorist menace we face. We thus expect that the General Assembly will endorse the Secretary-General's report including its recommendations without delay.
Permit me to highlight some elements of the strategy, to which the European Union attaches particular importance. As our comments today are of a general and preliminary nature, we reserve the right to make further comments in more detail at a later stage.
The European Union welcomes the structure as well as the operational and action-oriented approach of the report. We fully share the conviction emphasized by the Secretary-General when presenting his report that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, is unacceptable and can never be justified. Uniting around that conviction is the basis for our collective global effort to fight terrorism. The European Union rejects all arguments which may be used to excuse acts of terrorism.
We are pleased to note the central role of the rule of law and human rights including the rights of victims of terrorism. We share the view that effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights are not conflicting goals, but complementary and mutually reinforcing. Our fight against terrorism must be placed within a rule-of-law framework and conducted in full conformity with international law, in particular human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law. In a similar vein, we support to focus our attention on the victims of terrorism. We agree that the United Nations can and should promote international solidarity in support of victims, including by exploring the possibility of providing assistance to the victims of terrorist acts and their immediate families, and that States should consider putting in place a system of assistance that would promote the rights of victims and their families.
For a truly global and comprehensive campaign against terrorism we must involve everyone. Civil society and the mass media play an important role in this regard. We believe it is essential to communicate the values, objectives and policies of the global counter-terrorism strategy to the public.
The European Union agrees that any comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy must include a long-term component addressing conditions conducive to exploitation by terrorists, while at the same acknowledging that none of these conditions can justify terrorist acts. A wide array of factors are, to varying degrees in various parts of the world, conducive to radicalization. Addressing these factors is one of the keys to dissuade groups from resorting to terrorism or supporting it. We therefore must target inequalities and discrimination and promote inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue such as the Alliance of Civilizations. We must promote good governance, the rule of law, human rights, democracy, as well as education and economic prosperity, and work to resolve conflict.
In order to fight radicalization and extremism, Security Council resolution 1624 (2005) provides a basis for the prevention and criminalization of incitement to terrorist acts and recruitment, including through the use of new information and communications technologies such as the internet. The European Union supports establishing a strong legal framework to prevent incitement and recruitment, in full compliance with obligations under international human rights law. In this context, we would like to draw attention to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, which was adopted in May last year.
The development of State capacity to prevent terrorism is the cornerstone of the global counter-terrorism strategy. The European Union strongly supports the recommendations of the Secretary-General to strengthen the various UN activities in this field. Without going into detail, I would only like to highlight some priority areas: We welcome the important contribution of UNODC, including its Terrorism Prevention Branch, UNDP and OHCHR, to promote good governance, the rule of law, respect for human rights and effective criminal justice systems. We also support the efforts of IAEA and OPCW, together with the 1540-Committee, to strengthen State capacity to prevent terrorists from acquiring WMD and CBRN materials. Moreover, we are concerned about the threat of biological terrorism and we encourage the United Nations and WHO to accelerate their work in this regard.
The European Union also attaches importance to promoting UN system-wide coherence in countering terrorism and better coordinating all UN activities in this field. The Secretary General's report gives an account of the breadth of activities undertaken by the UN system, but at the same time also points at the organizational fragmentation. We welcome the placement of the CTC/CTED at the core of our efforts to improve the coherence and efficiency of technical assistance delivery. Among the various proposals in the report to enhance cooperation and coordination, we encourage that the Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force be institutionalized in the Secretariat.
Along the same lines, coordination, cooperation and synergies among international, regional and sub-regional organizations should also be enhanced. Regional measures and activities are an important element of a comprehensive global UN counter-terrorism strategy. For instance, on 1 December 2005, the European Union adopted an EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy, complemented by a detailed Action Plan for Implementation, as well as an EU Strategy for Combating Radicalization and Recruitment to Terrorism. Further EU measures related to counter-terrorism include the EU Strategies on Terrorist Financing, WMD and SALW. An EU Media Communications Strategy is currently being prepared. Moreover, we would also like to highlight the Euro-Mediterranean Code of Conduct on Countering Terrorism, which was agreed at the Euro-Mediterranean Summit in Barcelona on 28 November 2005 among 38 countries in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
Finally, as regards the "road ahead" after agreement on a comprehensive global UN counter-terrorism strategy, we agree with the need to ensure that it is a "living strategy" that is regularly updated and to ensure full implementation and accountability through follow-up.
In conclusion, we would like to reassure you of our readiness to enter into discussions with all Member States in a constructive spirit of cooperation in order to reach consensus on the global counter-terrorism strategy without delay.
I thank you, Mr. Co-Chairman.
*Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.