I should like at the outset to congratulate you, Sir, on Azerbaijan’s assumption of the presidency of the Council and to thank you for having convened this debate on counter-terrorism. It is imperative that the Council remain actively seized of the matter.
As the Secretary-General emphasized in his statement, more than 10 years after the events of 11 September 2001, terrorism remains a grave threat to international peace and security, and we must continue to work relentlessly to combat it.
This issue, which was one of our priorities during our 2011 presidency of the Group of Eight, is particularly important to France, which was recently affected by that scourge on its own territory.
The terrorist threat, which is more present than ever, has evolved; specifically, it is becoming more regional. Many local-level groups are affiliated with Al-Qaida or pursue their own objectives. Those amorphous groupings are having an impact on the security and socio-economic development of entire regions, in the Sahel — today in particular — Yemen, the Horn of Africa, Central Asia or South Asia.
The Sahel region is very much affected, as the events of the past few weeks have made clear, with the occupation of cities in northern Mali by terrorist groups and those who support them. We note that those groups, wherever they are to be found, take advantage of the historical weaknesses of the States targeted and exploit them in order to create sanctuaries, which can then be used as rear bases for operations aimed at neighbouring States.
We cannot stand by idly in the face of the threat of the expansion of regional hotbeds of violent radicalization. To meet that challenge, the international community must work together and give pride of place to the implementation of national, regional and international strategies.
Such strategies must deal with the issue comprehensively.
Thus the elimination of conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, requires the implementation not only of security policies but also of development and good-governance programmes. That can be done by, for example, putting in place regional strategies. That is the approach taken by the European Union, whose Sahel strategy has both a security track and a development track.
I believe that two components of counterterrorism strategies are particularly important: capacity-building and the promotion of the rule of law, because they provide States under threat with a longterm approach.
As we all know, when State authorities lack resources, that fact is often exploited by terrorists. Such States, threatened by the activities of terrorist groups on their territory, must have at their disposal the means necessary to dismantle networks and foil attacks. They must also begin to cooperate politically and operationally, especially at the regional level. However, it is also vital that they have the means and the technical assistance necessary to allow them to prosecute, try and convict terrorists while complying with human rights. France participates in these global efforts, for instance by lending its support to the establishment of judicial counter-terrorism centres in Mauritania and Niger and offering training for judges.
France attaches great importance to counterterrorism efforts at the United Nations, the role of which is irreplaceable and indispensable.
The United Nations has allowed us to establish a sound international framework to combat terrorism. I am thinking in particular of the relevant resolutions of the Council, beginning with resolution 1373 (2001), the many relevant United Nations conventions and protocols and in the United Nations Global Counter- Terrorism Strategy, the creation of which we supported in 2006 when it was established by the General Assembly. This series of texts reflects the current international consensus on counter-terrorism. Establishing norms is not enough, of course. We need to strengthen specific actions against terrorism.
To that end, a number of projects and initiatives are being undertaken under United Nations auspices, such as the activities of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on the ground, the technical assistance programme of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, and the new United Nations Counter- Terrorism Centre. I welcome the quality of work done by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, which analyses and assesses the situation of States, facilitates the establishment of technical assistance programmes, and works to strengthen regional cooperation by States in combating terrorism.
As we approach the biennial review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, to be held in the next few weeks, it is essential to continue working to improve the institutional architecture of the United Nations bodies tasked with fighting terrorism.
On this point, we support the proposal of the Secretary-General regarding the appointment of a United Nations counterterrorism coordinator.
It is indeed vital to improve international coordination, particularly through the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which offers the appropriate framework. That improved coordination should be done on two levels.
First, it should be undertaken within the United Nations in order to avoid duplicated initiatives and to allow for synergies.
Secondly, however, there should also be coordination with outside institutions, such as the European Union or the Global Forum, and with other organizations that have counter-terrorism competencies, such as INTERPOL.
That is how we will ensure both the coherence of international action and the clarity of the work of the United Nations in this area.