June 29, 2018
High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism

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

At the High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism
Session IV: Strengthening the role and capacity of the United Nations to support Member States to implement the
United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

New York, 29 June 2018

Mr. Chair,

I would like to commend the President of the General Assembly and the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism for convening this High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism.

In countering terrorism, the leadership role of the United Nations, in particular, of the Security Council, must be given full play. The United Nations has multiple tools available to assist Member States most at risk but with limited resources to fight terrorism. These resources include experts in governance, development, communications, security and, of course, counter-terrorism. The United Nations should bring all of those components together when Governments need support in fighting the spread of terrorist ideologies and preventing violent extremism from taking hold.

The strategic leadership and coordinating function of the Counter-Terrorism Office is vital in assisting Member States. The Office should use its central coordination role to look beyond traditional peace and security analysis and draw upon the United Nations’ expertise in human rights, development and education, to name just a few. Only then can the United Nations help countries to address violent extremist activities before they explode into threats against international peace and security. The United Nations’ potential to assist States in this area is unique and rightly lies at the heart of the mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Office.

As the United Nations strengthens its counter-terrorism efforts, it is vital to observe the rule of law, the Human Rights Conventions and international humanitarian law, in order to prevent terrorists from using human rights abuses as excuses for their heinous acts. Any counter-terrorism tactic that allows for human rights abuses will always backfire. Abusing human rights actually increases local support for terrorism.

Mr. Chair,

My Delegation urges the United Nations and all relevant international, regional and national counter-terrorism offices to enhance their collaboration with civil society and relevant local organizations to make their work more effective on the ground. In particular, together with the legal tools and resources to prevent individuals or groups from becoming radicalized and from becoming terrorists, every counter-terrorism strategy should involve engagement with civil society to address the problems of communities most at risk of radicalization and recruitment and to achieve their satisfactory social integration.

Much of the success or failure of counter-terrorism strategies rests on local capacities and initiatives. Counter-terrorism efforts must involve local populations. Local governments and grassroots organizations are on the frontlines in counter-terrorism strategies, because they are key, inter alia, in mobilizing the youth against terrorism and in providing education, employment and other healthy options to keep them away from being radicalized.

Civil society can also stimulate Governments to respect human rights and thereby gain the support of the population in its fight against terrorism. Respect for the right to assembly and freedom of speech is vital in defeating violent extremism, because the freedom to channel expressions of dissent and grievances through democratic processes can go a long way in damping impulses toward violence.

The Holy See actively engages with leaders of other religions and their faith communities in preventing incitement to any form of radicalization and violence, fostering and intensifying further sincere interreligious and intercultural dialogue and fruitful cooperation.

Mr. Chair,

Terrorism is a threat to us all, and so we must fight it wherever it is, whichever flag it flies, and whatever means it employs.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.