Statement by H.E. Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations in New York on UN Security Council Ministerial Open Debate on the 20th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1373 (2020) and the establishment of the Counter Terrorism Committee: achievements in international cooperation, challenges and opportunities on 12 January 2021

Mr. President,

I thank you for convening today’s meeting to mark the 20th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001). I also thank USG Voronkov and ASG Coninsx for their useful briefings.

Terrorism is one of the gravest challenges to international peace and security. The adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 in 2001 and the subsequent establishment of the Counter Terrorism Committee were important milestones in the UN’s efforts to help the member states fight terrorism nationally and globally.

Over the last two decades, the nature and scale of terrorism have changed. Vicious terrorist attacks against government establishments, individuals and communities have exposed the lurking threats in our midst and growing ideological networks of international terrorist groups. During these times, various initiatives, such as, launching of Secretary General’s Plan of Action of Violent Extremism, regular review of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy as well as establishment of the UN Office of Counter Terrorism with a robust mandate, thus enabling the UN to provide strategic leadership in this area. However, more needs to be done, especially in the areas of technical assistance and capacity-building to the countries in need.

Bangladesh maintains a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ towards terrorism and violent extremism. Our efforts are guided by global norms and standards set by the UN, while we calibrate practical measures on the ground based on local specificities. We are a party to all international counter-terrorism instruments. We have also joined a number of related regional initiatives. Our government has made it clear that our territory would not be allowed to be used by any operatives to incite or cause terrorist acts or harm to our neighbours. We also maintain an unequivocal stand that a terrorist is a terrorist, who must not be identified by any belief, caste or creed.

At the national level, we have put in place comprehensive laws, namely, the ‘Anti-Terrorism Act-2009’ and the ‘Money Laundering Prevention Act 2012’. Besides, we have been investing heavily in national capacity building including awareness-raising, community engagement and resilience, in a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to combat terrorism.  We are also in the process of drafting the first National Counter-Terrorism Strategy in line with the 2006 UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Terrorism does not respect national borders. Therefore, we have to act together to eliminate the menace of international terrorism and the Security Council and other UN entities established in this regard have important roles to play.  Let me briefly enumerate a few points:

First, the UN should lead and steer the global discourse and action in a more robust and coordinated manner, taking into account the local context and needs of Member States. As the apex global norm setting body, we wish to see the UN making definitive progress in the work of developing a comprehensive convention on terrorism based on convergences on the underlying causes of terrorism and violent extremism.

Second, global counter terrorism efforts must be translated into coordinated national, regional and international actions against money laundering, terrorist financing, and supply of arms and other technologies to terrorist and violent extremist groups. Seamless exchange of operational information and intelligence-sharing among nations especially regarding actions or movements of terrorists remains most critical.

Third, capacity and technology gaps are one of the major obstacles faced by many member states in complying with the obligations set forth in the Security Council Resolution 1373 and the subsequent resolutions on terrorism. UN’s leadership in forging partnership in developing legal and policy frameworks in member states as well as in implementing the national and international regulations against terrorism is critical.

Fourth, women and youth are disproportionately affected by terrorism. At the same time, they could also be the most effective agents to challenge the ideological threats posed by the terrorist entities. Implementation of Council’s WPS and YPS agenda could take the UN’s work on counter-terrorism a long way.

Fifth, there must be a demonstrable effort to establish lasting peace by ending protracted conflicts, illegal foreign occupation and colonialism to plug recurrent sources of grievance among certain groups of people including the youth, which the terrorists mostly take advantage of.  Similarly, attention must be paid to systematic discrimination and persecution that could ignite extremist thoughts among impressionable young minds.

Sixth, taking into account the impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on people stuck in conflict situations, the Council should strengthen its efforts to ensure compliance of its resolution 2532 that underlined the Secretary General’s call for global ceasefire.

Finally, the need for shared understating and cooperation among concerned actors including the private sector and academia, is critical for developing strategic communications against terrorist narratives and ideologies. Such initiatives, however, have to be locally driven and based on the needs of individual societies.

I thank you, Mr. President.