Thank you. As we gather here today to renew our commitment to the 2006 UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, we all recognize that no single country can address this global threat alone. The recent brutal attacks in Kampala, Uganda which killed dozens of innocent people from nine different countries who were watching the World Cup finals were a stark reminder of this fact. New Yorkers have also known the horrors of such cruel attacks. These are stark reminders that terrorism remains one of the most complicated threats to address.
The United States support for the Strategy is unwavering. We’re committed to deepening and broadening our multilateral engagement and revitalizing and expanding our cooperation with our partners. The September 2006 adoption of the Strategy marked the first time that all UN member states agreed on a common, comprehensive framework to guide our collective efforts to combat and prevent terrorism. It reminds us what the General Assembly is capable of achieving when it chooses to focus on what unites countries from around the world: for example, the urgent need to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its adherents – a network that has killed thousands of people of many faiths and nationalities.
America will permit al Qaeda and its extremist allies no safe haven from which to plot mass murder. We will forge lasting partnerships to target terrorists, share intelligence, coordinate law enforcement, and protect our people.
With its four pillars, the Strategy’s Plan of Action provides an essential framework for a holistic response to terrorism. The United States considers each pillar to be essential, and they are all reflected in our own new National Security Strategy.
To implement the first pillar, we need to look to the grievances and local drivers that terrorist organizations exploit and the ideology that is their key instrument in pushing vulnerable individuals on the path toward violence. More efforts are needed through words and deeds to undermine the insidious message of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and to prevent vulnerable individuals from turning to violence.
To make progress on this pillar, we must resolve legitimate grievances peacefully and strive to foster good governance, reduce poverty and corruption, and improve education, health and basic services. These objectives, necessary and valuable for many reasons, can play an important role as well in undermining the forces that can put the disillusioned and the dispossessed on the path to militancy.
The United States is working to deepen our cooperation with the United Nations in countering violent extremism, including by expanding our support for UNICRI’s Center to Counter the Appeal of Terrorism. We encourage others to do the same. This Center is a useful platform where governments from different regions which have created or are considering developing rehabilitation programs for violent extremists can exchange information and coordinate their efforts.
We are also focusing attention on ensuring that the voices of the survivors and victims of terrorism, who have been bravely speaking out against violent and extremist ideologies are heard and that the victims are never forgotten.
The United States is committed to implementing the second pillar. It prescribes a number of concrete and vital measures to prevent and combat terrorism, including putting in place the necessary legal framework to bring terrorists to justice. As evidence of our commitment to this pillar we will be providing support for the December 1-3 seminar that the Counterterrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) will sponsor to bring together national prosecutors from around the world to exchange experiences and good practices in their handling of complex terrorism cases in their domestic courts.
The third pillar—capacity-building—is critical to implementation of the second. The United States wants to make counterterrorism training for police, prosecutors, border officials, and members of the judiciary more systematic, more innovative and far reaching. Beyond our bilateral and regional programs, we recognize the unique capacity-building experience that the United Nations can bring to bear in a range of CT-related fields. For example, we are pleased to see how both the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate and UNODC’s Terrorism Prevention Branch have developed effective training and other programs to connect the work of the UN with that of national counterterrorism policymakers and practitioners. We plan to increase our funding support for both of these entities.
The fourth pillar is integral to our approach to addressing the terrorism threat. It’s clear that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law is an essential part of a successful counterterrorism effort. That’s why the United States has ended practices that were morally repugnant and counterproductive such as enhanced interrogation techniques and the use of secret detention sites, and it is why President Obama ordered that the prison at Guantanamo Bay be closed.
The United Nations has a critical role to play in encouraging national counterterrorism measures to be grounded in respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, in reinforcing the concept that respect for human rights is essential for effective international counterterrorism cooperation, and in working with countries to develop effective, rule of law-based criminal justice systems as called for in the UN Strategy.
As we renew our commitment to the UN Strategy, we look to the United Nations, in particular through the work of its Task Force, to find ways to further reinforce existing and to stimulate new national and regional implementation efforts. We’re optimistic that the recent appointment of the first, full-time Head of the Task Force and the institutionalization of the CTITF Office will support implementation efforts across all four pillars and will strengthen coordination and cooperation among the Task Force entities, including in the field, where it matters most. We hope the CTITF will now be able to make progress in crucial areas such as raising awareness of the UN Strategy and its practical significance among national counterterrorism policymakers and practitioners.
Contemporary terrorism has been decades in the making. And my colleagues, you know that it will take many more years to unmake it. There is much we still need to learn, especially about how to prevent individuals from choosing the path of violence. With its Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and a newly institutionalized Task Force with 30 members, the United Nations has both the right framework and set of tools to assume a central role in our common efforts to tackle this challenge.
In closing, the United States congratulates Ambassador Momen for his success in facilitating a consensus resolution that reinforces the continued commitment of all of us to implement the Strategy. Thank you.
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