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Updated On: Monday, 16 July 2018
Development Issues

Counter-Terrorism Methods Must Not Compromise Rule of Law, Human Rights, Secretary-General Stresses, as High-Level Conference Concludes

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ closing remarks at the High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism in New York today:

Thank you for these productive two days.  There will not be a negotiated outcome, so I will set out my own conclusions for the way forward, based on your discussions.

First, this conference has helped to strengthen multilateral collaboration, break down silos and build new partnerships.  Over 1,000 participants from around the world have been present — security, intelligence and law enforcement officials, diplomats and policymakers, civil society, women and youth associations, and international and regional organizations.

This is the first time we have held a conference of this kind as part of a United Nations Counter-Terrorism Week.  The 25 side events organized by Member States, United Nations entities and civil society throughout the week have demonstrated the benefits of adopting an inclusive approach.  Numerous bilateral meetings have also helped to build trust and to exchange expertise.  We should engage with all who can help us achieve our goals.

We must promote an all-of-government, all-of-society and all-of-UN approach to preventing and countering terrorism, involving a broad range of partners at national, regional and global levels.  This must, above all, include young people.  We need them to help counter the manipulative messages of terrorists and to reintegrate the radicalized.  And we need to empower them through education, jobs and vocational training.

We need to uphold the rights of victims and ensure they have a voice.  And we must also engage women in counter-terrorism.  They have an absolutely vital role to play.  They are often the first to spot early signs of radicalization in young or vulnerable people.

We have heard today from a number of civil society organizations.  Their experience is extremely valuable.  We must listen and learn from them.  That is why we are considering establishing a new unit in the Office of Counter-Terrorism to ensure that the views of civil society are fully reflected in counter-terrorism policies and programmes.

I welcome the establishment of the “Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism” and other similar partnerships to prevent the spread of extremist content online.  Let us do more to identify and remove terrorist content before it is accessible to all.

Second, there are many examples of Member States lawfully sharing critical information consistent with human rights standards.  We need to make better use of existing networks and expand them to include more Member States.  Of course, not all information can be shared.  You need to protect sensitive sources, prevent the erosion of civil liberties and ensure the presumption of innocence.

But more can be done.  For example, we need to be better at sharing information on the identities of returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters.  Security Council resolution 2396 (2017), adopted last December, calls on Member States to notify other countries of the travel, arrival, deportation or detention of individuals they believe to be terrorists.  It urges Member States to use Passenger Name Record data and Advance Passenger Information to prevent the transit of terrorists.  We must prioritize the implementation of this resolution and ensure that Member States most affected by terrorism have the capacities and resources to do so.  That is why we are considering establishing a Global Network of Counter-Terrorism Coordinators to share expertise and best practices.  We must learn from each other about what works and about what does not.

Third, we need to do more to address the conditions that are conducive to terrorism and violent extremism — lack of opportunity, exclusion, inequality, discrimination and serious violations of human rights.  The United Nations remains committed to working closely with all of you to develop and implement national and regional action plans.

Fourth, we must work more closely together to anticipate and prevent the terrorist threats of tomorrow.  Terrorists remain determined to find a weakness in our defences.  We know they are researching cyberattacks and the use of drones for chemical, biological or radiological attacks.  To stay ahead of the terrorists, I call on the international community, the private sector and academia to share knowledge, expertise and resources to prevent new technologies becoming lethal terrorist weapons.

Fifth, the United Nations needs to do more to support you.  We need to ensure our joint capacity-building activities are delivering impact on the ground.  Member States have, of course, the primary responsibility for countering terrorism.  But the United Nations has a key role to play in supporting the implementation of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

As a former Prime Minister, I understand the challenges of keeping your citizens safe.  I am committed to helping.  We must fight terrorism together, with methods that do not compromise the rule of law and human rights.  And we must mainstream our counter-terrorism efforts into our broader work to prevent conflicts, build durable peace and promote sustainable economic development.

The week began with the sixth review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the adoption of a consensus resolution.  It has concluded with practical discussions of some of the key challenges.  New solutions have been proposed in this room.  New partnerships have been established inside and [outside] the room.  There has been broad support for this conference.  It has provided the United Nations with a clear road map for our work on countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.  We will now liaise with Member States to organize regional events on key thematic issues to keep the momentum and support your collective efforts until the next conference.

I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to help build a more secure and prosperous future.

Thank you very much.

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