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United Nations Security Council intervention on a comprehensive approach to countering terrorism


  1. Thank you, Madame President.  Can I start by congratulating you, and the Government of Pakistan, on assuming the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of January, and I am grateful to you for convening this important debate on taking a comprehensive approach to countering terrorism.  Let me also thank the Secretary-General for his introductory briefing this morning.
  2. Madam President, Pakistan is on the frontline of terrorism and is making enormous sacrifices – 30,000 Pakistani civilians have died in terrorist attacks since 9/11.  In Britain we understand the terrible losses terrorism has inflicted upon the Pakistani people.  We feel them deeply too.  The people of Pakistan will always have our sympathy, our understanding, and our steadfast support in addressing these problems and in confronting terrorism, as Prime Minister David Cameron said, Pakistan’s enemy is our enemy. 
  3. Terrorism remains one of the most pressing, and most challenging, of the threats facing our world today.  A united international response is the only way for the scourge of terrorism to be defeated. A Comprehensive Approach to Terrorism
  4. The world has changed since the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist atrocities such as the Bali bombings and the 7/7 attacks in London.  Globalisation has made it increasingly interconnected, its boundaries less clearly defined. 
  5. These changes have brought many benefits. But they have also brought significant challenges that require a collective global response if we are to overcome them.
  6. That applies without doubt to the terrorist threat we face today. It is more diverse, more fragmented, but, equally, more determined than ever to challenge the shared values on which the UN was founded. 
  7. The United Kingdom therefore welcomes the call for a more comprehensive approach to countering terrorism.  Comprehensive in terms of the number of countries working together to ensure its defeat; and comprehensive in terms of the range of tools we deploy in our struggle against it. 
  8. When faced with a terrorist threat, a military response is sometimes unavoidable.   
  9. But we must also recognise the link between instability and terrorism, and the need to address the grievances and poverty that terrorists seek to exploit to radicalise and recruit.  In Yemen, for example, we need to expand access to justice, jobs and basic services to address these grievances. 
  10. And in Somalia, the work of our Department for International Development to support police training, to pilot community safety committees and to secure access to healthcare, and humanitarian assistance, is playing a crucial role in countering terrorist threats.
  11. The UK is keen to continue its support for the new government of Somalia in its efforts to secure lasting peace and security in East Africa, building upon the success of the London Somalia Conference last year. 
  12. So our broader counter-terrorism effort must continue to include work to bring countries out of poverty and to build stability.  This requires us to take a truly holistic and comprehensive approach – bringing together diplomatic, development and defence work – to countering terrorism. 
  13. Madame President, we must not forget that financing is the lifeblood of terrorist networks.  Cutting off that financing is core to countering terrorism. So we welcome the work of the UN and other international bodies, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), in setting and promoting the effective implementation of international standards for combating terrorist financing. 
  14. Terrorists are also quick to exploit the opportunities presented by technology.  In the field of cyber security, the UK is playing a key role in shaping an international cyber strategy, including hosting the 2011 London Conference on Cyberspace.  We welcome international initiatives, particularly in the UN, aimed at reducing the threat we face from cyber-crime. 
  15. The UK is also working closely with our international partners to tackle other trans-national threats, such as drug and human trafficking.  In particular, the UK welcomes, and has adopted, the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, which supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.  

Human Rights and Rule of Law

  1. The UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy emphasises the importance of conducting counter terrorism activity in conformity with international law. 
  2. The United Kingdom strongly endorses this position: compliance with international human rights obligations is vital to the sustainability of all our counter terrorism work.  We need to ensure that our collective capacity to arrest, prosecute and detain terrorists is in accordance with the human rights standards that UN members have signed up to. 
  3. The United Kingdom is active across the globe in providing security and justice assistance to international partners.  In doing so, we consider it to be of critical importance that this work is consistent with our values.
  4. The United Kingdom has therefore developed specific guidance – the Overseas Security and Justice Assistance guidance – to ensure that all of our overseas counter terrorism activity is in line with our fundamental human rights standards.  All proposals for security and justice assistance overseas are now subject to this guidance.  

Multilateral Cooperation and UN CT

  1. Madame President, the United Nations is uniquely placed to lead and co-ordinate the universal struggle against terrorism.  UN resolutions provide the framework for international activity to counter terrorism.  And UN bodies, here in New York and around the world, are working hard in different ways to help mitigate the terrorist threat we all face. 
  2. The United Kingdom welcomes the efforts of all these entities in helping to create the legal framework for countering terrorism, by addressing the conditions that can give rise to violent extremism, and through practical measures to help prevent terrorist attacks. 
  3. But with so many international bodies involved in this effort – 31 separate entities in all – there is a risk that activity is not as co-ordinated as it could be.  
  4. We therefore continue to support the Secretary-General’s call for a UN Counter Terrorism Coordinator, which we believe would increase the impact of the UN counter terrorism effort and help promote a truly comprehensive approach. 
  5. We would need the right mandate, and we would need to think carefully about how best to use the available resources.  But we remain convinced that more effective co-ordination within and between international organisations is crucial to our success in tackling the global terrorist threat.
  6. It is also important that the UN continues to strive to work as effectively and in as co-ordinated manner as possible with other multinational organisations working on counter terrorism.  
  7. We welcome the regular EU-UN counter terrorism dialogue and look forward to increased operational co-operation as a result.  Similarly, we welcome the important contribution the UN makes to the work of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum. 


  1. Madame President, I would like to thank you once again for using the occasion of your Presidency of the Security Council to shine the spotlight on this important issue.
  2. The United Kingdom remains determined to work with Security Council colleagues, the wider UN membership and the key UN counter terrorism bodies to advance our collective, comprehensive, counter-terrorism efforts.
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