13 OCTOBER 2009

International Workshop for National C-T Focal Points

Better Linking National and Global Counter-Terrorism Efforts

Vienna International Centre
12-13 October 2009

Concluding Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Jurg Lindenmann, Switzerland on behalf of the co-sponsoring Governments

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset I must say that I am pleased with the broad attendance and interest expressed by all participants. 113 Member States, 40 regional and sub-regional organizations and entities of the UN System dealing with counter-terrorism have come together to pursue our common endeavor.

We came together at this Workshop in Vienna to address one of the concerns raised by Member States at the General Assembly’s review in September 2008 of progress made with the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, namely: How to better link global counter terrorism efforts with national counter terrorism action. The need to identify ways to make the United Nations institutions and their efforts more relevant to national counter-terrorism strategies and efforts was also one of the key conclusions drawn by the 2008 “International Process on Global Counter-Terrorism Cooperation”, initiated by Switzerland in cooperation with Costa Rica, Japan, Slovakia and Turkey, with the support of the Center on Global Counter-Terrorism Cooperation: One of the recommendations emanating from the Process was that “national counter-terrorism coordinators or focal points from capitals should periodically meet to discuss Strategy-related issues and discuss how the United Nations might be able to help national efforts”.

I believe that the intensive deliberations during the last two days have produced a wealth of ideas, proposals and information on national, regional and international experiences to assist us all in this endeavor. These will be captured for future reference through the publication of a summary of the proceedings of the Workshop.

Permit me, as part of my concluding remarks, to recall some of the salient points of the discussions:

In our first session addressing National Implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy participants stressed the role of national counter-terrorism focal points in promoting a holistic national response to terrorism. Highlighted were, among others,

  • The need to ensure effective coordination among all relevant national actors, through the designation of one or more focal points or through other coordination mechanisms;
  • The value of a shared common threat perception by the different national actors, of a common national strategy and concrete plan of action to address terrorism;
  • The importance of tearing down the walls between security, human rights and development efforts;
  • The importance of respecting human rights to make counter-terrorism measures more legitimate and more effective, and the need to translate theoretical principles into concrete measures addressing specific human rights issues;

Participants also informed the workshop about initiatives at the national level to promote the integrated implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Participants underlined, among others

  • The value of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy as a blueprint and comprehensive guide for ensuring a holistic approach in addressing terrorism at the domestic level;
  • The need for a steadily, balanced and effective implementation of the Strategy and for translating its provisions into concrete action at. the ground;
  • The importance of addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, including through, among others, addressing violent conflicts, ensuring respect for human rights, democracy, sustainable development, education, countering radicalization by means of social reintegration, preventing the abuse of the internet for terrorist purposes;
  • The importance of putting terrorism prevention in a larger context by addressing the potential links between terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering and corruption;
  • The importance of involving all stakeholders at the national level, both governmental departments in non-traditional areas as well as the non­governmental organizations, religious groups, the private sector, the media, the academic world and society at large; and to ensuring cooperation and coordination among these various stakeholders (e.g. intelligence community and financial institutions, intelligence community and transportation sector);
  • The key role played by the United Nations and the need for institutionalization of the CTITF in order to ensure effective, integrated implementation through coordination of the contributions by the different UN actors, including through the I-ACT (Integrated Assistance for Countering Terrorism) initiative;

In the second session on Capacity Building Assistance and International Legal Cooperation participants discussed how receiving countries perceive current capacity building assistance and how it addresses their needs and also discussed the donor perspective. Participants underlined, among others,

  • The need to extend capacity building assistance to cover all four pillars of the Strategy, hence, ensuring a holistic approach in countering terrorism, to involve all relevant stakeholders, including civil society, and to provide expertise advice and equipment in order to enable countries to counter terrorism;
  • The need to address the needs of the recipient countries, to ensure ownership and transparency, while working towards building trust, including by acknowledging that national interests are a key factor on both the donor as well as the recipient side;
  • The need to ensure complementarity between bilateral, regional and multilateral assistance and to maximize the comparative advantages of multilateral assistance delivery, particularly in cases where bilateral assistance is not sufficient or where a multilateral “umbrella” is useful;
  • The need to utilize CTED, particularly through the visits it conducts on behalf of the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, as a broker of technical assistance by identifying technical assistance needs and in connecting recipient countries and relevant assistance providers, both bilateral and multilateral providers;
  • The need to explore further synergies between development aid and counter terrorism assistance and to improve cooperation and coordination among multilateral assistance providers in terrorism “related” areas and in terrorism “relevant” areas of work;

Participants further focused on the Implementation of the 16 Universal Conventions and Protocols against Terrorism and discussed Consequences for international legal cooperation and human rights’ protection. Highlighted were, among others:

  • the importance of a rule of law based criminal justice approach to counter terrorism and of adherence to hum n rights standards as a prerequisite for successfully addressing terrorism;
  • the need to continue to work towards universal ratification and full implementation of the international conventions and protocols related to terrorism;
  • the need to meet the increased requests for tailor-made country-based capacity building assistance for helping Member States to fully implement the international legal instruments against terrorism, and the important role played by LTNODC, in particular its Terrorism Prevention Branch, in this regard;
  • the value of linking national and regional efforts and of sharing best practices among criminal justice practitioners across regions and across legal systems;
  • the potential of a global network of national counterterrorism focal points in serving as a platform for articulating national perspectives on counter­terrorism measures, especially on needs and assistance delivery for national counter-terrorism capacity building;

In the third session participants discussed National and Regional Counter­Terrorism Efforts in Better Linking the Implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Obligations resulting from United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1267, 1373 and 1540. Salient remarks were, among others:

  • The importance of placing the implementation of the Security Council resolutions within the comprehensive context offered by the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy;
  • The value of having national focal points that can enhance interaction with the relevant international bodies, in particular the three Counter­-Terrorism Security Council bodies, and of enhancing opportunities for interaction;
  • The role of national focal points acting as a central clearing house for providing information on national counter-terrorism measures, for coordinating the preparation of responses to the respective Committees, for facilitating field visits and for prioritizing technical assistance needs;

In the last session we discussed the Usefulness of Initiating a Global Network of National Counter-Terrorism Focal Points to Engage among Themselves and the United Nations. Participants stressed, among others.

  • The usefulness of a global network of National Counter-Terrorism Contact points as an informal platform to facilitate cross-regional sharing of national, regional and international experiences and good practices in countering terrorism;
  • The importance of learning from and fully utilizing existing sub­regional and regional mechanisms and networks in order to avoid duplication of efforts and maximize complementarity
  • The need for trust and confidence building, for maintaining flexibility, and for strengthening national capacity in order to enable Member States to fully participate in such a global network.
  • The need for further reflection on the functions and operational modalities of such a global network:

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, let me reiterate and reaffirm our common mission, in the same strong words as the ones used at the same venue, two years ago, at the occasion of the 2007 Vienna Symposium on “Advancing the Implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy”:

The overall success of the global counter-terrorism efforts towards full implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy depends on us, the Member States of the United Nations. We should continue to work towards concrete actions and measurable results, supported by the United Nations, particularly the Counter-Terrorism Task Force and its member entities, as well as other international and regional organizations, civil society and the private sector. Failure in this endeavour is not an option. We must be proactive, committed, and willing to persevere in order to counter the common and global threat of terrorism. We owe it to the people we serve….