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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the Second United Nations High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism

2021-06-29 08:21

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

To start with, I would like to thank you, Ambassador Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia for presiding over today’s discussions. During this High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-terrorism Agencies, member states have engaged in very enlightening and fruitful discussions on preventing and combating terrorism.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Despite the significant progress made in international counter-terrorism cooperation, the world remains confronted with tangible threats of terrorism. ISIS is very active in Iraq and Syria, and the withdrawal of foreign troops has led to a sharp deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan, with terrorist forces such as Al Qaeda, ISIS and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement waxing strong and wreaking havoc. The rise of unilateralism and hegemonic politics has led to the politicization and instrumentalization of counter-terrorism issues, fueling a vicious cycle of uncertainty, instability and violence in all their manifestations.

On the theme of this session “responding to new and evolving counter-terrorism challenges in the new decade”, I believe that the international community should focus on the following new challenges.

First, the new challenges posed by COVID-19. The pandemic has caused significant increases in unemployment and poverty, a widening gap between the rich and the poor, and an increase in the number of marginalized people, thus providing an unintended breeding ground for terrorism. The pandemic has exacerbated economic and social challenges, and has contributed to the further proliferation and spread of terrorism and extremist ideology, posing a medium to long term threat to international peace and security and deserving our high-level attention.

Second, the new challenges posed by double standards in counter-terrorism. Selective counter-terrorism and condoning, tolerating or even exploiting certain terrorist activities will seriously undermine international cooperation in counter-terrorism. Certain countries, in pursuit of their own geopolitical interests, have blatantly taken unilateral military actions to create regional instability, thus providing terrorist organizations with a space in which to operate.

Third, the new challenges posed by new technologies. Terrorist organizations will become more rampant in spreading extremist ideas and hate speech, inciting terrorist activities, organizing and recruiting followers, and raising terrorist funds via online platforms. As new technologies become more available, it will become easier for terrorist organizations to acquire such tech products as drones and smart weapons platforms. The internet and new technologies will become new borderlands beyond the reach of law for terrorists, which also deserve our high-level attention.

Terrorism is a real and present threat confronting us all. Working together in unity is the most powerful weapon to defeat terrorism. Facing the future, we need to:

First, uphold true multilateralism. All countries should commit themselves to defending the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order based on international law, and support the UN in playing a coordinating role in the global fight against terrorism. The Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, CTED and the UNOCT should enhance coordination, and focus on preventing terrorist organizations from capitalizing on the pandemic to incite and conduct terrorist activities, and work to resolve the particularly thorny problems such as cyber terrorism, radicalization and terrorist financing, so as to create synergy.

Second, focus on prevention to eliminate the root causes of terrorism. To deal with terrorism, we must address both the symptoms and its root causes. We should attach importance to resolving regional conflicts through political process, reduce and eradicate poverty and end social instability through economic and social development, and remove the breeding ground of terrorism and extremism through a holistic approach encompassing political, economic, judicial, and other initiatives. Countries can intensify exchange of experience and best practice on preventive counter-terrorism and de-radicalization initiatives, including vocational training and education, community-based correction arrangements, etc. to make preventive counter-terrorism measures more effective.

Third, oppose double standards and reject selective counter-terrorism. There are no good or bad terrorists. All countries should put aside geopolitical considerations and ideological prejudices, combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, strengthen information sharing and judicial cooperation, and strictly implement the relevant Security Council resolutions. All countries are obliged to implement the Council resolutions and strictly enforce the relevant sanctions against terrorist organizations and individuals accordingly.

Fourth, strengthen capacity building and effectively respond to new terrorist trends. In response to the trend of increased use of new technologies by terrorist organizations, we must take a holistic approach to prevent the misuse of new technologies by terrorist organizations at the legislative, judicial and law enforcement levels, while also using new technologies and tools to combat terrorist activities with precision and intensity. We hope that UN counter-terrorism agencies will focus on capacity building projects in such areas as combating cyber terrorism, and in particular, help those countries at the frontline of counter-terrorism enhance their counter-terrorism and de-radicalization capabilities, making sure that each and every part of the counter-terrorism continuum is fully reinforced.

China will support the work of the UN in all these aspects and is ready to work with all countries to address the new trends and characteristics of terrorism, forge consensus, strengthen coordination and promote counter-terrorism cooperation in the right direction to safeguard the common future of all humanity.

I thank you, Mr. Chair.

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