The foreign fighters phenomenon is a challenge for France and its partners [fr]
Meeting concerning foreign fighters - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 29 May 2015
I thank the Secretary-General, the Chairs of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities, and the Secretary General of INTERPOL for their briefings. The picture is clear. The threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters remains particularly worrying.
We also want to thank the delegation of Lithuania for organizing this debate, which allows the Council to take action on a serious threat to international security. I thank the Secretary for Homeland Security of the United States of America and the United States delegation for having successfully led the negotiations on the presidential statement that we have just adopted (S/PRST/2015/11).
The Security Council summit held in September 2014 (S/PV.7272), which led to the adoption of resolution 2178 (2014), was an essential step in the international fight against terrorism, and in particular against the foreign terrorist fighters. It enabled the growing awareness worldwide of this phenomenon and asks Member States to take the necessary measures to contain it. The resolution 2178 (2014) also helped to establish a robust legal framework to fight against foreign terrorists fighters, a framework that shows its operational nature every day.
Unfortunately, despite an increasingly mobilized international community, the number of foreign terrorist fighters continues to grow, as was rightly pointed out by the Chair of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. This phenomenon is a challenge of unprecedented scale, not only for my country but also for many of our partners. Nearly 1,700 French citizens or residents of France are implicated in the Iraqi-Syrian track, and 470 of them are currently in Syria and Iraq. Among them are many young people; some are women. Some have committed suicide attacks.
Faced with this challenge, France took the necessary measures to counter this phenomenon early and without waiting for the adoption of resolution 2178 (2014). The answer is naturally a legal one, but it is also essential to act as early as possible and prevent the phenomena of indoctrination. That is why we have chosen to act as soon as possible, staying close to families that are often helpless in the face of the radicalization of their relatives, working with civil society and associations and operating under a logic of proximity.
For over a year, France has been implementing a systematic plan against radicalization. The telephone platform dedicated to the prevention of radicalization set up by the Ministry of Interior a little more than a year ago has received more than 2,000 reports of radicalized individuals, nearly 25 per cent of whom are minors. We also act in schools, making our children understand the importance of defending democracy and the diversity of our societies.
Furthermore, at the legislative level, France has adopted new tools in order to adapt to the evolving terrorist threat and while respecting its international commitments to protecting human rights. The Law of 13 November 2014 established a procedure for preventing individuals suspected of wanting to travel abroad to join a terrorist organization from leaving the country. The Law also allows us to ask Internet providers to block or delist websites advocating terrorism. Blocking is targeted so as not to undermine freedom of expression. Prime Minister Manuel Valls recently announced the establishment of specialized teams to counter the jihadist rhetoric on the Internet and analyse the evolution of propaganda speech to better combat it. We have also strengthened the capacity of our security services to dismantle terrorist networks. It is also essential to create support mechanisms for people returning from conflict zones. A structure will soon be created in France to this end to help those who wish to regain a place in society, as long as they are not being prosecuted for their actions.
The response cannot be limited to the national level, of course. An intensification of international community action is essential to face this threat, which goes beyond our borders. It is imperative to strengthen the legal instruments to stem the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters and violent extremism. In this regard, we welcome the recent adoption on 19 May by the Ministers of the Council of Europe of an additional protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism. This text will in particular allow for better operational cooperation between States in the fight against foreign terrorists fighters. We also work with our European Union partners to strengthen our inspection arrangements at external borders. France is calling for the rapid creation of a European passenger name record. These measures will be consistent with the protection of personal data and fundamental rights of citizens.
The presidential statement that we have adopted today is another step in the fight against the scourge of terrorism. This text will allow us to go further in the implementation of provisions of resolution 2178 (2014) adopted last September, which is more than ever our shared compass.
The United Nations has an essential role to play in supporting the work of the States. It is important that the relevant United Nations bodies, particularly the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, with the support of Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, ensure that the States fulfil their international obligations. On the basis of evaluations, capacity-building programmes should be implemented when necessary with the help of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force. France welcomes and encourages the ongoing strengthening of cooperation between the United Nations and INTERPOL.
We are now facing a major threat to our societies. If they are to be effective and sustainable, national responses should be enriched by dynamic international cooperation and fall within in the framework of international law, including respect for human rights. It is under these two conditions that together we can defeat the scourge of foreign terrorist fighters while remaining true to our values; indeed, one cannot be separated from the other.