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19 September 2011 - Speech by Mr. Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs at the occasion of the UN Secretary-General’s Symposium on International Counter-Terrorism

Mr. Executive Director,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to thank the Secretary-General and the task force responsible for the UN’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy for organizing this symposium.

The tragic attacks that plunged Norway into mourning and the recent attacks perpetrated in Iraq, Afghanistan and India remind us of this fact: no population, no State can now consider itself permanently immune to the threat of terrorism.

The international community must therefore demonstrate unity and solidarity. The fight against terrorism is not about one country fighting another. It’s not about one civilization fighting another. It concerns us all; democracy is waging a war against indiscriminate and craven violence, wherever it originates. The United Nations is the natural framework for this collective commitment. Its organs and agencies have a fundamental role to play in facilitating cooperation on the ground.

The terrorist threat has changed significantly since September 11, 2001. Bin Laden is dead. Of course that doesn’t mean that the Al Qaeda threat has disappeared. It has become regionalized, and the amorphous grouping of local organizations that claim to follow it are having an extremely negative impact on the security and development of entire regions, notably in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, Yemen and on the Pakistani-Afghan border.

We must therefore intensify our efforts.

The only solution will be a resolute commitment by all States and regions concerned and improved international cooperation. Regarding the Sahel, I welcome the holding of the conference that took place from 7 - 8 September in Algiers bringing together the foreign ministers of Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger and their main international partners.

But we must also tackle the root causes of terrorism by taking resolute action with respect to development assistance and the strengthening of governance.

It’s in this spirit that France is especially committed alongside its partners in the Maghreb countries in order to support them in their fight against Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. This is also the thrust of the EU’s strategy with respect to the Sahel; France is of course fully involved in this strategy.

We can take action in 3 directions:

- by fighting against the dissemination of weapons first of all - this will be a priority with respect to the reconstruction efforts in Libya.

- by strengthening the capacity of the most fragile States in order to help them control all of their territory, to establish public services and to exercise State authority wherever necessary. In this respect, promoting the rule of law is essential. France believes in adopting a judicial approach to fighting terrorism. Prosecuting terrorists is the best way to discredit them. Respecting human rights is, over the long-term, the best way - and perhaps the only way - to ensure the effectiveness of our fight against terrorism.

- the third direction: increasing our efforts to tackle situations that could potentially be exploited by terrorist movements. All too often, these movements expand their reach by exploiting the sense of abandonment felt by the populations plunged into unacceptable daily misery. In the face of this situation, development assistance is vital. We must not give up trying to achieve the Millennium Development Goals that we set ourselves in 2000.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the fight against terrorism also requires actions in support of democratic transition.

The revolutions that have taken place in the Arab world over the course of the last few months mark a turning point in history. Together, we must lend our support to the aspirations of the people for change and freedom, since dashed hopes could result in a return to a situation in which there’s a temptation to resort to violence and extremism.

We’re now at a crossroads. Now is the time to stand alongside these young democracies. Let’s remain united by our values of peace and democracy in order to jointly ensure the security of our citizens around the world.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU