Thank you, Mr. President, for chairing this important meeting.
As we gather here today to once again renew our commitment to the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the incidents of terrorism this month alone – in Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Israel and other countries – remind us that no country is immune from the threat of terrorism and that no single country can address it on its own.
The United States’ support for the Strategy, and the collaborative and long-term strategic approach it embodies, is unwavering. This body’s adoption of the document almost six years ago marked the first time that all UN member states agreed on a common, comprehensive counterterrorism strategy.
In recent years, with the UN playing a central role, the international community has made important strides in the fight against violent extremism. Together, we have worked to disrupt terrorist financing; pass more effective counterterrorism laws; tighten border, aviation and maritime security; improve coordination; and raise awareness of the importance of the Strategy.
Over the past decade, more than 120,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested around the world, and more than 35,000 have been convicted. Just last week an Indonesian court sentenced Umar Patek to 20 years in prison for his role in several terrorist acts, including the twin nightclub bombings in Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people.
Despite this progress, the danger from terrorism remains urgent and undeniable. The core of al-Qaida that carried out the 9/11 attacks and other attacks around the world may be on the path to defeat, but the threat has become more geographically diffuse as groups associated with al-Qaida expand their operations. Terrorists now hold territory in Mali, Somalia, and Yemen, and they are carrying out frequent and destabilizing attacks in Nigeria and the Maghreb.
These developments, which underscore the resilience of terrorist networks and the violent ideology that underpins them, mean that we must redouble our collective efforts to combat terrorism and undermine the appeal of the extremists’ narrative.
However, we have a lot of work in front of us that we need to undertake together. The UN Strategy, with its emphasis on diminishing the economic, political, and social drivers of violent extremism that often fuel recruitment, and strengthening criminal justice and other civilian institutions to enable countries to deal with terrorist threats within a rule of law framework, offers the right policy framework to underpin our collective work.
Since the General Assembly’s last review of the Strategy in September 2010, the United States has redoubled its efforts to support implementation around the globe. This includes supporting CTITF and its entities as they work with countries on issues like border security, terror finance, prosecutions, judicial cooperation, and victims, to provide them the tools to better implement the Strategy. We are particularly pleased to be able to provide funding to allow the UN to develop two innovative projects: one that will allow the UN for the first time to be able to deliver counterterrorism-related human rights training to law enforcement officials in key regions around the globe, and the other will allow the UN to work with prison officials to develop rule of law-based programs aimed at rehabilitating violent extremists. In addition to our direct support to the UN, the Global Counterterrorism Forum, which we are honored to Co-Chair, is mobilizing new resources and expertise to catalyze national and regional efforts to implement the Strategy.
We encourage the UN to build upon its contributions to the global counterterrorism effort. This includes the recent establishment of the UN Centre for Counterterrorism within the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which will offer the CTITF additional resources to support member states’ efforts to implement the Strategy. With the continued expansion of the UN counterterrorism system, we are particularly pleased that the Secretary-General has proposed creating a UN Counterterrorism Coordinator to further unify the UN’s counterterrorism architecture.
The United States looks forward to working together in common cause, within the General Assembly, to operationalize this proposal in the months ahead and with the broader international community, to prevent and combat terrorism, wherever and in whatever form it occurs.
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