april 14, 2016
Threats to International Peace and Security by Terrorist Acts
As delivered in New York on April 14, 2016

Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations

Security Council Open Debate on Threats to International Peace and Security by Terrorist Acts

14 April 2016


Mr. President,

The Holy See sincerely thanks China’s Presidency for placing this extremely important topic in open debate before the Security Council.

Today’s debate comes at a time when we face the dehumanizing impact of terrorism fueled by violent extremism. The ongoing, and in some regions, escalating use of terror is a reminder that this challenge requires a shared commitment from all nations and people of good will. Indeed, terrorism represents a fundamental threat to our common humanity. This institution was founded in the wake of an era in which a similar nihilistic view of human dignity sought to destroy and divide our world.

Violent extremism knows no border. Recent terror activities in Lahore, Beirut, Paris, Brussels, Aden, and before that Moscow, Barcelona, London, New York and whole regions in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Kenya and Somalia illustrate that fundamentalist terror is a transnational phenomenon.  They also demonstrate a total disregard for civilian immunity as extremists kill and maim women, children, the elderly and the handicapped, and commit unspeakable crimes against women and girls. Religious and ethnic minority groups are bearing the brunt of their ruthlessness. The utter barbarity of their behaviour and crimes leaves us dismayed and asking how the human heart can plan and carry out such horrible acts.

Another indicator of the transnational nature of terrorism is the presence of some 30,000 Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF) coming from 100 U.N. Member States, who enter ISIL-controlled areas across national boundaries. Once trained and completely indoctrinated in the most warped and violent ideologies, they travel to sow terror in other countries.

The internationalization of terror can only be countered by a collective international response.  This response must  also address the root causes upon which international terrorism feeds. In fact, the present terrorist challenge has a strong socio-cultural component. Young people travelling abroad to join the ranks of terrorist organizations are disillusioned by what they experience as a situation of exclusion and by the lack of integration and values in certain societies. Together with the legal tools and resources to prevent citizens from becoming foreign terrorist fighters, Governments should engage with civil society to address the problems of communities most at risk of radicalization and recruitment and to achieve their satisfactory social integration.

Moreover, the borderless nature of the terrorist groups requires the international community to control cyber technologies that violent groups use to recruit new adherents, finance their activities and coordinate terror attacks. Their access to cyberspace must be denied. Their access to funding must be cut off.  No country, no company and no individual must be permitted to “do business” with terror groups, in particular in arms and ammunitions. Collaboration with terror groups, whether for profit or for ideological complicity, must be outlawed. Member States that abet violent extremism or shelter terror groups must be rigorously challenged by this Council. Violations against international humanitarian law and all crimes against humanity committed by terror groups must be vigorously pursued.

Mr. President,

Any lasting solution to defeat violent extremism and fundamentalist terror must consider the centrality of the inviolable dignity and rights of the human person, regardless of race, religion, political belief and difference. Too many individual citizens and groups have suffered and continue to suffer death and all forms of violence and discrimination because of their religion, ethnicity or political beliefs. In the Middle East, in particular, terrorists must never be allowed to destroy centuries of peaceful co-existence of Muslims and Christians in the region.

The mendacity and blasphemy of terrorist groups who claim to kill and oppress in the name of religion must be openly denounced in the strongest possible terms. Religious leaders, in particular, have a grave responsibility to condemn co-believers who seek to instrumentalize their religion as a justification for violence. No one of whatever religion or culture must ever be allowed to carry out acts of violence and oppression in the name of that religion or culture or under whatever pretext.  

Mr. President,

No matter how grave the threats that terrorism poses to our collective security, any effective lasting response cannot be achieved solely by military coercion, but rather through a culture of encounter and dialogue that breeds mutual acceptance and promotes inclusive societies. This is the only way to lasting peace and security.

Thank you, Mr. President.