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9 December 2008 - Security Council - Counter-terrorism: Statement by Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union

At the outset, my delegation wholeheartedly thanks you, Sir, and your country for having organized this debate during the Croatian presidency of the Security Council in December. I welcome your leadership in today’s debate, as well as the presence of the Secretary-General.

I have the honour to speak not only for France but also on behalf of the European Union and the candidate countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; the countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Montenegro; as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, which align themselves with this declaration.

Despite our best efforts, the threat of terrorism is as real as ever, as the long and bitter litany of terrorist acts that occur around the world reminds us. The sophistication and determination of the terrorists who struck at the heart of Mumbai a few days ago attests to that.

To combat terrorism, we must do more and we must do better. To that end, we must first understand the mechanics of the global terrorism that, here in New York, opened a new and bloody era in the history of terrorism. Terrorism is global in its scope and in its ability to blend in with globalization and to change with modern times, despite the archaic nature of its ideological referents. It is also global in its ability to defy and threaten our States, despite the fact that there are probably only a few hundred, or perhaps a few thousand, terrorists scattered around the world.

The European Union regards terrorism as one of the greatest threats to international peace and security. Our duty is to combat that scourge using all possible means. To do so, however, we must overcome the deadly traps that terrorism has set for us: fear, division and renunciation. Fear is abdication and defeat. Division is reflected in the rifts between peoples, cultures and religions that terrorists seek explicitly to provoke. Renunciation is the abandonment of the principles and values — dialogue, peace and human rights — on which our democracies and, of course, our Organization are built.

For the European Union, respect for human rights and the rule of law are fundamental elements in the fight against terrorism. It is a case not of arbitrary power directed against indiscriminate violence, but rather of the rule of law set against crime. It is by respecting our values, law, public freedoms and the use of clear and fair procedures that we will defeat terrorism.

For the European Union, the United Nations is the natural framework for developing standards and structures to strengthen international cooperation against terrorism. The United Nations has a central role to play in this respect. From that perspective, considerable efforts have been undertaken. The main tools have been developed: 16 international counter-terrorism instruments, several wide-ranging Security Council resolutions, three subsidiary bodies of the Security Council, and the recent Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, to which all United Nations Member States have subscribed. With those texts, the United Nations has developed both the key principles of an effective global fight against terrorism and the institutional and legal instruments necessary to that end.

Through the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force established by the Secretary-General, and in which the three Council Committees and their teams of experts are actively involved, the United Nations system has begun to develop a framework for integrated support for the implementation of the Strategy.

I would now like to emphasize some of the challenges we must meet, as an international community, in order to confront terrorism. We must first pursue the important work to address more generally the conditions that lead to the spread of terrorism. Strengthening education, development assistance and efforts to resolve crises and regional conflicts are one objective in themselves, but this work also focuses on the elements of frustration and injustice that terrorist propaganda and recruitment exploit for their murderous ends. Here too, the role of the United Nations is essential.

We must also ensure that the international community as a whole and the individual Member States remain mobilized in combating terrorism. This fight is not waged only in emergencies, when violence breaks out for all to see. It requires determined and patient work over time. How can we ensure that this work receives the attention and political support it requires? In that regard, Mr. President, your initiative is a major step in the right direction.

Regional organizations also have a role to play. The strengthening of regional cooperation against terrorism is also a factor of integration, as evidenced by the adoption of the European arrest warrant that played a key role in the fight of both Spain and France against ETA, which unfortunately again struck the Basque country last week and murdered there. Initiatives have been taken in other regions of the world, recently in South-East Asia and West Africa. La Francophonie has also drawn up an important convention on judicial cooperation. The European Union welcomes those efforts.

The primary responsibility for the fight against terrorism, of course, lies with States. The States of the European Union are committed to fully implementing Security Council resolutions. The same is true for the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The European Union itself developed a strategy against terrorism and an action plan whose implementation is closely monitored and assessed.

The European Union calls upon all States to redouble their efforts to fully implement the Security Council resolutions and the recommendations of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, to become parties to all international instruments against terrorism and to implement the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in an integrated manner. As reports have confirmed, on a global level we are far from achieving this goal, and in some parts of the world the efforts being made are still insufficient. From this perspective, nobody today can afford to remain idle or feel immune to terrorism, regardless of their region or level of development.

The Security Council did not hesitate to impose sanctions on States harbouring or assisting terrorists. This firm line must be maintained and strengthened, particularly through the work undertaken by the Council’s subsidiary bodies on non-compliance, in order to distinguish between States that are deemed able but unwilling to meet their obligations and those that do not have the means to do so.

In the face of a global threat that is capable of exploiting all vulnerabilities, two key issues must be addressed very carefully. How can the international community prevent territories from becoming safe havens for terrorists? How to ensure that States that have the political will but lack the means receive advice and support?

The European Union is committed to those goals through its various political and financial instruments, in particular the European Security and Defence Policy and the Instrument for Stability. The same is true of its member States, through their bilateral programmes or their support for United Nations programmes for the consolidation of peace or assistance in the field of anti-terrorist legislation. But given the magnitude of these challenges, the United Nations system should reflect more broadly on the support it could provide as regards capacity-building and assisting States in the fight against terrorism.

In conclusion, my delegation would again like to emphasize the paradox of terrorism, as it must be fully understood if we are to be effective. No more than a few hundred — perhaps a few thousand — people scattered throughout the world are defying our 192 nations, and yet they have managed to turn this weakness into a strength. We must strive to reduce the impact of their attacks and to treat them as the criminals they are. We owe that to all victims of terrorism. But as States, we must also strengthen measures of the struggle against terrorism, ensure their consistency and increase our cooperation. It is a matter of raising the level of anti-terrorism systems throughout the world and enhancing their inter-operability.

My delegation supports the draft presidential statement and the call for solidarity contained therein.

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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