Speakers Address Shifting Nature of Terrorism, as Sixth Committee Continues Debate on Eliminating International Menace

The terrain of the battle against terrorism, as well as its very nature, was constantly shifting and changing form, speakers noted today as members of the Sixth Committee continued to discuss measures to eliminate international terrorism.

As the Committee continued their consideration of the Secretary‑General’s reports on measures to eliminate international terrorism (documents A/72/111 and A/72/111/Add.1), delegates described terrorist groups and threats, as well as victories and progress that were happening around the globe, whether close to home or further afield.

“We are all at risk,” the representative of Ghana said, as he recalled numerous terrorist incidents, including those carried out by Boko Haram in the West African subregion.  That terrorist group had displaced millions of people while claiming thousands of casualties.  He also highlighted how money-laundering and the financing of terrorism had devastating consequences, especially for countries with fragile financial systems.

Afghanistan’s representative emphasized that the debate was taking place at a time when the threat of terrorism had grown even larger in scope for a more effective global response.  Describing his country as “the front-line State” in that global fight, he also pointed out that Afghan security forces, which were fighting as he spoke, had inflicted major losses on violent extremist groups.

Of grave concern were returning foreign terrorist fighters, the representative of the Russian Federation stated.  Because of their military experience and connections those non-State actors were capable of carrying out dangerous activities in their homelands.  Spotlighting the increasing growth of terrorism in Central Asia, he stressed that capacity‑building and regional cooperation were of utmost importance.

However, despite the shifting and complex nature of combatting terrorism, progress had been made with delegates describing how Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) continued to lose ground.

Outlining a range of recent Security Council resolutions on the issue, the United States representative said “we are seeing results”.  Over the last year, the flow of foreign terrorist fighters had declined substantially, and the United States’ immense military pressure and its partners — along with the implementation of Council resolution 2178 (2014) — had made a tremendous impact on the ground in Syria and Iraq.

Iraq’s representative, while also highlighting the role of the Security Council and the General Assembly in the defeat of ISIL, underscored the measures that had been taken by her Government and the people of Iraq to get rid of that terrorist organization.  The unity and cohesion of the Iraqi people had led to the fatal blow, she stated.

Nonetheless, the representative of the Philippines, recounting the terrorist attack in Marawi, a Muslim‑majority city in his country, cautioned that “we witness the collapse of Da’esh in Iraq and Syria, only to see it claw back in our part of the world.”  Marawi would be rebuilt, he declared, “not the least upon the unshakeable foundation of its inhabitants’ goodness”.

Also speaking today were representatives of Saudi Arabia (for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Honduras, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Panama, Georgia, Tunisia, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya, Maldives, Indonesia, Turkey, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Armenia, Iran, Pakistan and Kuwait.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was Ukraine.

The Sixth Committee (Legal) will next meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 4 October, to continue its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism and to take up consideration of the rule of law.


NAWAF ALTHARI (Saudi Arabia), speaking for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), welcomed the establishment of the Office of Counter‑Terrorism, saying that terrorism contradicted international human rights obligations as well as the practices of Islam.  Promoting dialogue between religions and civilizations was crucial for bringing about harmony.  The Organization believed that a comprehensive approach was required to tackle terrorism, including addressing root causes such as foreign domination.

It was essential that States enhance their cooperation to refuse the narratives and ideologies of terrorist groups, while making a distinction between terrorism and the struggles of people living under foreign occupation, he continued.  The United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy was “a living document” that should be updated and implemented in a balanced manner.  Stressing the importance of bilateral technical assistance and transfer of technology, he said that OIC would make every effort to reach a consensus on the negotiations for the draft convention.

YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), associating herself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that international terrorism had become a “ferocious beast” and it was only through consolidated efforts that it could be overthrown.  Noting her country’s national laws against terrorism, she spotlighted the 2010 law that focused on the suppression of activities geared towards financing that threat.  Honduras was also a State party to several international treaties and conventions on terrorism, including the Inter‑American Convention against Terrorism.

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and OIC, said that the debate was taking place at a time when the threat of terrorism had grown even larger in scope for a more effective global response.  Afghanistan remained “the frontline State” in the world’s fight against terrorism, an evil that was alien to Afghan values.  He pointed out that Afghan security forces were battling terrorist groups as he spoke, and they had inflicted major losses in the ranks of violent extremist groups.  The fight against terrorism was a work‑in‑progress that demanded complete support from the international community.  In addition, Afghanistan was also working outside the battlefield, regionally and internationally, he said.

BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) said that because terrorism respected no borders, it was important for all Member States to have a comprehensive, systematic and coordinated approach in their response to the scourge.  Recognizing the role of the United Nations in facilitating that coordination, he welcomed the recent initiative of the Secretary‑General to reform the Organization’s counter‑terrorism architecture with the creation of the new Office of Counter‑Terrorism.  However, it was regrettable that after more than 20 years of debate, there had been no conclusion regarding the comprehensive convention on terrorism.  Preventing the radicalization of youth required coordinated actions aimed at eradicating causes that gave rise to terrorism, including facilitating employment growth and access to education.  In addition, he voiced grave concern about the emergence of radical terrorist groups in Afghanistan, along the perimeter of the borders of Central Asia.  His Government stood for the widest implementation of multilateral instruments and mechanisms to stop the movements of foreign terrorist fighters, and for the shutdown of channels for the financial support of terrorist activities through the illegal trade in drugs, natural resources and cultural heritage artefacts.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), associating herself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that regional and sub‑regional organizations had a key role to play in combating terrorism.  Welcoming the recent creation of the Office of Counter‑Terrorism, she expressed hope that it would lead to more synergy in the fight against terrorism.  However, despite progress, double standards still abounded.  Furthermore, as terrorism grew more complex in its financing, choice of methods, and targets, it called for more sophisticated mechanisms geared towards the new challenges.  “We find ourselves in a volatile neighbourhood,” she said, calling for effective international and regional cooperation.

LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama), associating herself with CELAC, said that, in compliance with various Security Council resolutions, her Government defined terrorism as a crime against collective security.  Noting that recent executive decrees had established rules for drawing up lists to combat terrorism, she offered an overview of various legal reforms undertaken on a national platform.  As a country of transit, Panama’s financial system could be used for illicit reasons.  Therefore, the country was working to interrupt the sources of terrorism financing and adjust its laws to keep pace with international standards.  The Government has also recently ratified a law to take measures against money‑laundering, had established a regulatory framework and had set up a mechanism for coordination.  Panama was also part of a global coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh).

GIORGI MIKELADZE (Georgia), stressing it was important to condemn support of terrorism by any State or non‑State actors, encouraged Member States to join all relevant United Nations conventions.  When ISIL had lost significant territory, there was a threat that it would shift combat strategy and direct its main resources towards other countries.  To counter those threats, robust measures were needed.  The strong support of the rule of law was a vital element in the fight against terrorism.  In Georgia, significant attention had been given to the prevention of radicalization.  It was notable that no travels of Georgian citizens to the Middle East to join ISIL had been detected recently.  In December 2016, Georgia had allocated humanitarian support to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Syria for support on the ground and had accepted as asylum seekers those fleeing the brutality of ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia), associating himself with the African group, OIC and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that since the seventy‑first session, a breakthrough had been achieved with the newly adopted reform of the United Nations counter‑terrorism architecture.  That reform testified to the commitment of Member States to step up efforts to combat threats to peace and security.  It was imperative that terrorist groups knew that the international community stood firm against terrorism.  Tunisia had various legal instruments to counter terrorism.  It had ratified regional conventions related to the fight against terrorism.  On the national level, in 2015, it had passed laws that criminalized all acts of support, training, and recruitment for terrorist activities, as well as the financing of terrorism.

NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia) associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, underscored the need to conclude a comprehensive convention for combating international terrorism.  However, there was also a need to increase cooperation between the regional organizations and the United Nations.  The proposal to convene a high‑level conference to formulate an international response to terrorism should be given priority attention.  As well, Member States should put in place vigorous and regular screening mechanisms to ensure that those who committed terrorist acts did not enjoy refugee status, and countries should have the capacity to prosecute their nationals when they were accused of carrying out terrorist acts, irrespective of where the crime was committed.  International cooperation between law enforcement and judicial agencies was a necessity, he said, adding that national laws should limit funding opportunities for terrorists, and States should cooperate in finding and sharing evidence on terrorist acts.

EMILY PIERCE (United States) said her Government “will never flinch” in using all its tools to end the phenomenon, including its work through the Global Coalition to defeat ISIL.  Outlining a range of recent Security Council resolutions on the issue, she said “we are seeing results”.  Over the last year, the flow of foreign terrorist fighters had declined substantially, and the United States’ immense military pressure and its partners — along with the implementation of Council resolution 2178 (2014) — had made a tremendous impact on the ground in Syria and Iraq.  She also voiced support for the Global Counter‑Terrorism [Implementation] Task Force, the new Office of Counter‑Terrorism and the Counter‑Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, and called for a balanced approach to implementing the Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy and the recommendations of the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), associating himself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that his country had continued to make positive strides in its implementation of counter‑terrorism conventions and related United Nations resolutions, including one that required countries to freeze the funds, assets and economic resources of individuals connected to terrorism financing.  The National Counter‑Terrorism Centre was mandated to establish a fusion cell for an inter‑agency intelligence service that collected, analysed and acted on activities related to terrorism.  He underscored that just as five primary colours in combination produced more hues than could ever be seen, the five regional groups of the United Nations in combination could eliminate terrorism in all its forms.

JAMES NDIRANGU WAWERU (Kenya), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, expressed solidarity with all Member States that had suffered from terrorism in the recent past.  Stressing that no single nation could win the war against terrorism by itself, he added that his country had ratified and domesticated all international conventions against transnational organized crime, including the relevant protocols on terrorism and associated crimes such as money‑laundering, drug trafficking, human trafficking and corruption.  Regionally, Kenya had forged strong law enforcement and judicial cooperation partnerships within the East African Community and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives), associating himself with OIC, said that the elimination of terrorism called for global partnerships built on global trust.  Extending condolences to the victims and families of all terrorist attacks, including the recent bombings in the London subway and the coordinated attacks that took peacekeeper’s lives in Mali, he said that terrorism had no place in Islam.  His Government had formulated a comprehensive policy against terrorism in 2016 and had enabled law enforcement agencies to specifically address foreign terrorist fighters, as well as those who financially supported terrorism.  His country was also investing in community engagement programmes that would empower women and youth leaders.

MAXIM V. MUSIKHIN (Russian Federation), welcoming the establishment of the Office of Counter‑Terrorism, said reform of the Organization’s counterterrorism architecture would give a new impetus to international efforts.  It was also crucial to focus on the ongoing mixture of international terrorism and transnational organized crime.  Because terrorists continued to use the Internet to spread ideas and recruit fighters, the international community must promote the ideals of tolerance, and mass media must place limits on spreading information that could benefit such actors.  Turning to returning foreign terrorist fighters, he said that their military experience and connections enabled them to carry out dangerous activities in their homelands.  Given the increasing growth of terrorism in Central Asia, capacity‑building and regional cooperation were of utmost importance.  Regional structures such as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization had undertaken significant measures to harmonize relevant resolutions and train experts.  Finally, he added, Ukraine’s representative should stick to the agenda and not detract attention from the real problem by promoting anti‑Russian propaganda.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), associating himself with ASEAN, said that his country believed that no one country could deal with the issue of terrorism by itself.  International cooperation was key.  The world continued to face evolving terrorism challenges and threats posed by terrorist groups and networks, particularly ISIL.  With foreign terrorist fighters, the spread of extremism and radicalism from conflict areas to other parts of that region had been carried out through the phenomenon of the individual terrorist act, the so‑called “lone wolf”.  Indonesia had taken several measures to tackle that issue, by discouraging and preventing people from joining ISIL and by monitoring websites related to that terrorist organization.

RAMIS ŞEN (Turkey) said that his country continued its fight with determination against all terrorist organizations, most notably the Fethullah Gülen terrorist organization, ISIL, Al‑Qaida, the Kurdish Workers Party and the Democratic Union Party, as well as some left‑wing terror groups.  The Fethullah Gülen was the mastermind of the 15 July coup attempt and was a “clear and present threat” to all countries and democracies.  Horrendous attacks by the Kurdish Workers Party had claimed the lives of 371 civilians, as well as 1,003 law enforcement and security personnel.  That group was active in Syria, Iraq and Europe with its affiliated entities, and was trying to exploit the developments in Syria and Iraq.  The organic ties between the Kurdish Workers Party, the Democratic Union Party and Kurdish People’s Protection Units were crystal‑clear.  He further noted that “a terrorist organization could not be legitimized by claiming that it is fighting against another terrorist organization.”

NANG PHYU SIN THAN MYINT (Myanmar), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), stressed that combating the financing of terrorism required more attention.  Her Government was collaborating with countries around the globe in that regard.  It was also participating regionally through the ASEAN intelligence community counter‑terrorism committee.  Myanmar’s Anti‑Money-Laundering Law and Counter‑Terrorism Law had been enacted in 2014, and a Financial Investigation Unit and a Counter‑Terrorism Department had been established under the Myanmar Police Force.  Noting that her country had been a victim of terrorism, she said the violent and coordinated attacks claimed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army terrorist group served as vivid examples.  Noting that the group was receiving financial support from abroad, she pointed out that it had targeted not only security forces but also innocent civilians; a mass grave of 45 Hindu villagers had been discovered last month.  Indeed, the recent attacks had led to widespread fear and displacement of all communities, not just Muslim and Rakhine.  The Government would do everything in its power to prevent such terrorist acts from happening again.

MAHJABEEN KHALED (Bangladesh) welcomed Security Council resolution 2322 (2016) that addressed the nexus between terrorism and transnational organized crime, as well as resolution 2379 (2017).  She urged the Council to provide guidance to the counter‑terrorism committees and expert panels under its purview, and to encourage those bodies to continue their work in regular consultation with the wider United Nations membership.  Her country had put in place a “whole‑of-society” response to root out violent extremism that could lead to terrorism.  In that context, emphasis was being given to building community resilience, and engagement through community policing as well as women- and youth‑led initiatives.  As well, Bangladesh was engaged in public‑private partnerships in close collaboration with the United Nations and other relevant entities.

INTISAR TALIL AL-JUBOORI (Iraq), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and OIC, recalled ISIL’s great offensive against her country and its people, during which many barbaric acts had been carried out against Iraqi citizens.  A number of measures had been taken by the Government as well as the people to get rid of that terrorist group.  The unity and cohesion of the Iraqi people had led to the fatal blow.  Also commending the unfailing efforts of the Security Council in that regard, she urged the Committee to study the cooperation between the Council and the General Assembly that had led to the successful defeat of ISIL.  Calling for more such pooling of resources, she also noted that Iraq had hosted a number of international meetings on topics such as returning foreign terrorist fighters.  The international community must come together to tackle the root causes of terrorism.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) said that the five Security Council resolutions adopted in 2017 were of critical importance in addressing various aspects of the international effort in countering terrorism.  While terrorism could not be associated with any religion or nationality, “we should acknowledge evidence pointing at extremists and terrorists targeting specific communities based on their religion or ethnicity,” he said.  The sufferings of Yazidis, Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities must not remain unaddressed.  Emphasizing the role of media, civil society and religions organization in efforts to enhance dialogue, he noted that her country was a State party to 13 conventions related to the fight against terrorism.

ABBAS BAGHERPOUR ARDEKANI (Iran) said that after a decade and a half of “wholesale failure” in combating “post‑9/11” terrorism, realities on the ground had generated a push to look at challenges with open eyes.  Myopic views of a complex situation, let alone the pursuit of short‑sighted self‑serving policies, were bound to fail, he said, noting that that another long‑standing issue to be examined was the endemic and age‑old problem of foreign occupation and invasion, and what that had brought in its wake.  The seventy‑year occupation of Palestine had been compounded by the systematic political and military interventions to perpetuate and create the desired configuration.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and OIC, said that terrorism in her country was “an unfortunate by‑product of the political and geostrategic developments and foreign interventions in our neighbourhood”. Highlighting measures such as a dedicated counter‑terrorism force, reform of the criminal justice system, and an across‑the-board military campaign to destroy terrorist infrastructures and bases in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region and tribal areas, she reaffirmed support for the OIC position on a consensus‑based comprehensive convention on international terrorism.  The proposed convention must be consistent with international humanitarian law and must clearly differentiate between acts of terrorism and the legitimate struggles for self‑determination of people living under foreign occupation.

The representative of Ghana, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that in the West African subregion, the activities of Boko Haram had displaced millions of people and had claimed thousands of casualties.  “We are all at risk,” he said, recalling terrorist incidents across the world.  Welcoming the establishment of the Office of Counter‑Terrorism, he said that money‑laundering and the financing of terrorism had devastating consequences, especially for countries with fragile financial systems.  His country’s Parliament had passed laws against terrorism and money‑laundering, giving the financial intelligence centre the power to request information on currency transactions.  Ghana was also implementing an action plan to rectify various strategic deficiencies in its fight against terrorism.

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR., (Philippines), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and ASEAN, recalled the attack by a Da’esh‑inspired terrorist organization on Marawi, a Muslim‑majority city in his country.  “We witness the collapse of Da’esh in Iraq and Syria, only to see it claw back in our part of the world,” he said.  Noting the intimate and symbiotic relationship between terrorism, poverty and the illegal drug trade, he declared that Marawi would be rebuilt, “not least upon the unshakeable foundation of its inhabitants’ goodness”, and the rule of law would eventually prevail there.  Counter‑terrorism was a cornerstone of the national agenda, and the Government was engaging women, youth, Muslim and Christian leaders, the academic sector and the private sector as its partners.

The representative of Kuwait, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and OIC, said that the fight against terrorism required respect for the rule of law.  Its root causes must also be tackled, for example by eradicating poverty.  Kuwait had always sought to combat terrorism by ratifying relevant international instruments, and had acceded to 18 agreements and conventions, as well as bilateral agreements.  Kuwait had recently hosted the Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters as part of the international coalition.  The purpose of the meeting was to create an environment that was conducive to the return of those fighters.

Right of Reply

The representative of Ukraine, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that what was happening in the east of his country was a continuation of Russian aggression.  Russian citizens were at the helm of terrorism organizations there and were financed by the Russian Federation.  Three years ago, Ukraine had put into the spotlight various facts.  Communications had been circulated on a regular basis and had been included in a submission to the International Court of Justice.  In those documents, his Government stressed that terrorist acts were criminally unjustifiable, regardless of their motivations.  Yet, the Russian Federation acted as an undeniable aggressor in believing in its impunity.  Ukraine would use all peaceful means to protect its nation until the Russian Federation withdrew, he said.