The European Union and its Member States express their full solidarity with the victims of recent terrorist attacks throughout the world.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia*and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
Countering terrorism is a priority we all share. Together – the UN, the European Union, the Member States - we have been committed tirelessly to mitigate this scourge. Only together we can put a stop to terrorists and their backers.
In the face of terrorist attacks we, the European Union and its Member States, uphold the common values that underpin our pluralist societies and continue to pursue with determination efforts to defend them.
In light of the constantly evolving nature of the threat from terrorism and violent extremism, we must continue to work together to build upon progress achieved while prioritising better; and adapting/improving the tools required to address the threat, also at this time when we are all working on the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, the European Union and its Member States continue to believe that multilateral efforts are essential and must continue to be reinforced.
For these reasons, we thank Tunisia for calling this timely open debate in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) and the establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC).
This statement covers two main sections, broadly reflecting the focus of this Open Debate:
a) emerging trends and common priorities that shape the future multilateral action; and b) progress made, gaps and challenges in terms of international cooperation.
Emerging trends and common priorities
Key challenges related to the prevention and countering of violent extremism and terrorism demand further resolute action from all of us: the UN, the EU and all UN member States. The EU and its Member States consider that further efforts are required, in particular when it comes to:
Furthermore, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented challenge with wide-ranging effects which will only fully unfold in the long term, a specific effort should be made to assess its potential influence on terrorist activities, as well as on the prevention and countering of violent extremism and terrorism, and to identify possible targeted action.
In all our efforts, we recall the need for a strong human rights based approach to prevent and counter violent extremism and terrorism, and reiterate that countering terrorism must never serve as a pretext for human rights violations. We must respect our values, norms and principles under all circumstances – this is fundamental for successful and sustainable counter-terrorism efforts. The failure to respect human rights, and the marginalisation of individuals and groups, contributes to increased radicalization and to violence, and fosters a sense of impunity.
We must work harder to avoid any potential negative impact of counter-terrorism measures on humanitarian activities, including medical activities, carried out by impartial humanitarian actors, in full compliance with humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law. We must hence develop best practices and adopt appropriate mitigating measures, including well-framed humanitarian exceptions adapted to the specific context.
We encourage the UN’s efforts to ensure a "whole-of-society" approach to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism and we call for strengthened collaboration and cooperation between governments, academia, the private sector and civil society. Our approach must be gender-responsive and provide opportunities for young people to strengthen resilience against radicalisation. We must address the underlying conditions of terrorism and violent extremism and foster means for addressing various political, social and other grievances. Additionally, we should pay specific attention to victims in the fight against terrorism and ensure that their rights are protected and promoted.
Following recent attacks in EU Member States, the EU has a new Counter-Terrorism Agenda (December 2020) which establishes the way forward in the fight against terrorism in years to come. This Agenda is built around four pillars - anticipate, prevent, protect, respond. International engagement across all of these pillars is essential to improve security.
Internally, we are enhancing our efforts to:
while respecting human rights and making all efforts to protect the humanitarian space.
Assistance to and protection of victims of terrorism and their families as well as their contribution to building resilience of our society is an integral part of EU legislation and other counter-terrorism efforts. In order to assist EU Member States in the implementation of EU rules on rights of victims’ of terrorism, the Commission has set up an EU Centre of Expertise for victims of terrorism. The national contact points for victims of terrorism, nominated by the EU Member States, are an essential step further to enhance cooperation and provision of information for victims in the possible events of terrorist attacks.
Outside our borders, we are working with countries in the Western Balkans, in the Middle East, North Africa, in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, and also increasing our efforts in Central, South, and Southeast Asia to help build capacity, encourage mutual learning and find common areas of cooperation, including judicial cooperation. We hold regular counter terrorism dialogues with key partners and have established a network of CT/Security experts in EU Delegations to support political dialogue and capacity building efforts, as well as to provide for stronger links to strategically important partner countries and regions.
Progress made, gaps and challenges in terms of international cooperation
The EU and its Member States want a strong and efficient UN that drives the important global agenda on preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism.
In this regard, we are encouraged by the UN's commitment to strengthen coordination towards an "All-of-UN Approach" in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism. A strong coordination and cooperation between CTED and OCT is essential, as they work within their mandates and in their distinct roles to ensure effective alignment of the UN technical and capacity building assistance with gaps in implementation and capacity as identified by CTED.
In addition, we consider that there is an urgent need to put in place human rights checks and balances within the UN counter-terrorism institutional structures, involving important actors such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering-Terrorism, in order to promote a human rights and democracy based approach to counter-terrorism.
Furthermore, all UN agencies should meaningfully engage with civil society as a vital partner in developing inclusive strategies to prevent violent extremism, with input from i.a. youth, families, women, cultural and educational leaders.
We want to specifically welcome the efforts of the Counter-terrorism Committee and CTED to organise more regular open briefings, such as the recent ones on ‘emerging threats’ and on ‘civil aviation’. These are proving to be good opportunities for detailed discussion on specific topics and to ensure expert information, and are an excellent opportunity for disseminating best practices. We look forward to the continuation of such efforts.
The recommendations of CTED in its country assessments are extremely helpful in order for countries to be prepared for the emerging threats and trends, and to eventually request and receive any required assistance. In this regard, we welcome the fact that these assessments are comprehensive and adapt to the threat and the needs of the relevant countries. We also welcome the fact that elements such as emerging threats, the effects of CT measures on the humanitarian space, as well as respect for human rights are also being assessed.
We also refer here to Finland’s choice to make the CTC country report publicly available. This effort at enhancing transparency – at the relevant country’s decision – provides an opportunity for the assessments to be used as a tool for both UN entities beyond CTED and UNOCT; as well as CT agencies in other UN member states.
As regards the UN sanctions regime against terrorist groups and individuals, we reiterate our full support to the Office of the Ombudsperson to the 1267 Committee. We welcome the significant and much needed contribution of the Office to fairness and transparency and to ensuring due process rights. We must ensure implementation of relevant resolutions and enhance our efforts at strengthening due process and fair and clear procedures in all sanctions regimes, in accordance with international law and human rights instruments.
From its end, the European Union seeks to do its part. We steadfastly continue to build and strengthen our strategic partnership with the UN. Contacts with the CTED are expanding, with the aim of strengthening our own understanding of the regions and countries we work with, and better tailoring EU programming to local needs. Moreover, we are major contributors to UNOCT, and have started several new programmatic activities together. These include the UN-EU Counter-Terrorism partnership in Sudan; the joint UNCCT-UNODC project aimed at preventing acts of nuclear terrorism through the promotion of the universalization and effective implementation of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT); and engagement on PVE in South East Asia with UNDP which complements the STRIVE Asia initiative, jointly launched with UNOCT, UNDP and UNODC.
In support of global efforts, we also work closely with other international partners such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), NATO, the OSCE and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Global Coalition to Defeat DA’esch/ISIL, and support all efforts of UN coordination also with these partners.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.