Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter in the UN Security Council VTC Open Debate on Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts: Linkage of Counterterrorism and transnational organized crime, August 6, 2020

06.08.2020 - Speech

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I thank our briefers Vladimir Voronkov and Ghada Waly for their extensive briefings and the report of the Secretary-General, the first which deals with the measures addressing the linkages between terrorism and organized crime since we adopted resolution 2482 last year.

I would like to make three points. The first one is that we need an assessment and evidence-based approach. Linkages between terrorists and organized crime need to be addressed. This is a conviction that we share. Our policies, however, can only be successful if they are based on facts and evidence. This is why we need further research, assessment and analysis to understand the phenomenon. We need to make sure that we have a comprehensive and differentiated picture, including on regional differences. We also need to better understand how the Covid-19 pandemic affects terrorism, our counterterrorism measures and organized crime. This is not an easy subject of analysis, considering the ambiguous nature of the situation. On the one hand, travel restrictions partially prevent terrorist activities and criminal deeds. On the other hand, the pandemic provides an enabling environment and creates new breeding grounds for radicalization.

My second point is on cooperation and core principles. The need for cooperation is obvious. It is imperative to cooperate on the regional, international and multilateral levels. When we analyze and when we address existing challenges, national measures, including border security measures, are indispensable, but they are far from being sufficient. When fighting terrorism and combating organized crime, we must ensure that all action respects the principles of international law, in particular human rights, humanitarian law and the rule of law. Neither countering terrorism nor combating organized crime can serve as a pretext to violate human rights. Disrespecting these rights is not only a breach of our most fundamental international obligations, it creates at the same time one of the root causes for radicalisation, for mistrust in institutions and for successful recruitment by criminal and terrorist groups. This has been demonstrated clearly time and again. We therefore appreciate that in the concluding observations in the report of the Secretary-General, it is clearly underlined that there is a need for compliance with international law.

This brings me to my third and last point: Safeguarding humanitarian space. The findings of the Secretary-General's report substantiate the assumption that linkages to organised crime are most relevant when it comes to the financing of terrorism. We need to cut off channels for the financing of terrorist groups. Nevertheless, we must be aware of and address the negative impact those countermeasures can have on the delivery of humanitarian assistance. We cannot accept shrinking humanitarian space, exacerbating humanitarian crises and suffering as collateral damage in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

It is our responsibility to guarantee humanitarian access and to ensure that any measures taken provide exemptions for humanitarian activities carried out by impartial humanitarian actors consistent with international humanitarian law and based on humanitarian principles. So an evidence- and principle-based approach and cooperation are key in this very important field.

Thank you. 


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