Statements

March 28, 2019
Combatting the Financing of Terrorism

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See

Security Council, Open Debate on
Threats to International peace and security caused by terrorist acts:
combatting the financing of terrorism

New York, 28 March 2019


I would like to thank the French Presidency for convening today’s debate on combatting the financing of terrorism.

Mr. President,

At the outset, let me pay homage to the memory of all victims of terrorism and, in particular, to the victims of the recent attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, brothers and sisters of ours who died due to a senseless act of violence.  Regrettably, in today’s world, the scourge of terrorism has become almost commonplace. Our peoples live under constant fear of violent acts motivated by extremist ideology. Terrorists cause indiscriminate harm, often claiming as their victims the most vulnerable members of the human family. They target peacekeepers and peacemakers, humanitarian and development actors. They strike hotels, concert venues, public squares and places of worship.

Terrorism must therefore be condemned and fought in all its forms and manifestations. Terrorists must be denied access to those means that facilitate their criminal activities.

Indeed, no one should be permitted to finance or to provide arms and ammunition to terrorists. Those who abet violent extremism or who shelter members of terrorist groups must be held accountable before a court of law. Similarly, all violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity committed by terror groups must be vigorously pursued. As Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, jointly declared, “it is so necessary to stop supporting terrorist movements fuelled by financing, the provision of weapons and strategy, and by attempts to justify these movements even using the media. All these must be regarded as international crimes that threaten security and world peace. Such terrorism must be condemned in all its forms and expressions.”[1]

To that end, all relevant Security Council resolutions, as well as the recommendation of the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF-GAFI), should be carefully implemented to ‘follow the money’ and thus to prevent the profits of money laundering, of human trafficking, of the illicit sale and trafficking of antiquities, and of the sale of weapons and ammunition, from being used for terrorist purposes. One must also think of the scores of girls and women used and abused by terrorist groups to spread their dangerous ideologies.

To prevent effectively the financing of terrorism it is thus indispensable to break its link with transnational organized crime, which both profits from it and favors its activities. Breaking those criminal networks and bringing the criminals to justice would of course require regional and international cooperation. Vital to combatting international organized crime and terrorism is the disruption of their cyber capabilities, which they use to recruit new members and to raise funds.

When resources are exploited for evil purposes, they are diverted from legitimate goals: the youth is deprived of education and learning, the elderly are deprived of care and medicines, peoples as a whole are deprived of their right to develop in peace and safety. To prevent terrorism, this cycle of misery must also be broken. Indeed, integral human development is key to preventing terrorism in the long term.

At the same time, it is indispensable to ensure that measures to prevent and contrast terrorism scrupulously respect human rights, the rule of law and international humanitarian law. In particular, there can be no conflict between preventing the financing of terrorism and providing humanitarian assistance. Quite the contrary, legitimate humanitarian activities by charitable organizations, including by faithinspired organizations, contribute positively to the prevention of terrorism. This Council must therefore ensure that counter-terrorism measures do not limit nor inhibit the capacity of non-governmental and charitable organizations to provide humanitarian aid to vulnerable groups or persons, such as emergency relief to refugees and displaced persons and medical services to the wounded.

Mr. President,

The Holy See unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, as no ideological, political, philosophical, racial, ethnic or religious reasons can justify or excuse the resort to terrorist acts. It is indispensable that effective measures be adopted to prevent terrorism in all its forms, including by draining and cutting off its financing resources. It is my Delegation’s ardent hope that this debate will be an added catalyst for the international community to offer a coordinated response to such a serious threat to peace and security.

I thank you, Mr. President.

1. Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, 4 February 2019.