Statement by H.E. Ertuğrul Apakan, Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, at the Practitioners’ Seminar on “Bringing Terrorists to Justice”

Ertuğrul Apakan 01.12.2010
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all, on behalf of the Counter-Terrorism Committee.

It is now almost nine years since the Committee was established by Security Council resolution 1373 in response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Sadly, nine years after that terrible day, the threat of terrorism continues to pose significant challenges to international peace and security.

Terrorism is a threat to all of us, irrespective of where we live, and regardless of our religions, our nationalities or our ethnic origins.

Even though Member States’ law enforcement agencies succeed in foiling numerous terrorist incidents – often with the help of an increasingly vigilant public – terrorism continues to claim the lives of hundreds of innocent victims every year.

It is very difficult to determine how many terrorist acts may have been prevented worldwide as a result of enhanced security and preventive measures. Statistics showing the number of terrorist incidents and the damage – both human and material – caused by such incidents scarcely reveal the true extent of the global terrorist threat, which is far more complex and challenging than many imagine.

Over recent years, the response of the United Nations to the terrorist threat has grown considerably, both in depth and in breadth. Within the framework of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), some 30 entities, including CTED, are tasked with evaluating and combating the terrorist threat in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. Significant work is also being done by other United Nations entities, such as the “1267” Committee, the “1540” Committee, the Terrorism Prevention Branch of UNODC and UNICRI.

The Counter-Terrorism Committee works to increase Member States’ awareness of the need for more effective implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions, particularly resolutions 1373 and 1624, and to enhance international and regional cooperation.

Our approach is intended to be both strategic and transparent. Apart from maintaining regular dialogue with Member States, including through our country visits, we also hold regular briefings on our work, as well as thematic discussions on various relevant issues. We have held briefings on issues such as terrorist financing, denial of safe haven, human rights, technical assistance and international cooperation. In June 2010, on the basis of one thematic discussion, the Committee adopted policy guidance on international legal cooperation.

CTED also works with Member States and donors to facilitate the provision of technical assistance to States requiring such assistance. Our overarching goal in this regard is to enhance the capacity of such States to combat terrorism effectively.

The Committee has maintained and increased its dialogue and cooperation with relevant international and regional organizations. In recent months, it has worked in a number of regional settings, including South Asia, South-East Europe and Africa. We shall continue to pursue this approach in the future.

The Committee’s Global Implementation Survey of the implementation of resolution 1373 by Member States shows that the international community has taken significant steps to deal with the various facets of terrorism, and is now better prepared to do so.

At the national level, many Member States have criminalized terrorism and have strengthened their administrative and regulatory counter-terrorism structures. The urgent need for enhanced international cooperation is increasingly recognized, and a significant majority of Member States have become parties to 10 or more international counter-terrorism instruments.

Excellencies,

Notwithstanding the increased attention and dedication of resources to the counter-terrorism threat, serious challenges remain. We must recognize that terrorism is a constantly evolving, dynamic threat. As we have improved our counter-terrorism capacities, so have terrorists diversified their methods, practices, and techniques.

Terrorists continue to search for innovative ways to exploit our vulnerabilities including through the use of the internet and other technologies. Faced with increased scrutiny and safeguards, terrorists will continue to develop non-traditional ways to perpetrate their crimes. We must seek constantly to enhance and strengthen our existing measures and to watch closely for emerging threats to our collective security.

Security is not a one-time event; nor can it be achieved in isolation. It is a process that involves numerous actors, which must work in a complementary and cooperative manner. The need for such cooperation is not limited to the national level alone. The competent authorities of all Member States must cooperate to ensure that terrorists do not succeed. The Committee’s policy guidance on international legal cooperation is a useful resource in this regard.

As we strengthen our laws and enhance the capacity of our law-enforcement, regulatory and administrative infrastructures, we must also ensure that our prosecution services are improved and strengthened.

The role of the prosecutor in the global counter-terrorism effort is a crucial one. Prosecutors form the essential bridge between the law enforcement authorities, who are involved in the arrest and investigation of terrorists, and the judicial authorities, who must determine the level of guilt and the level of punishment to be imposed.

The need for coordination among the various law enforcement agencies involved and for consistency in their practices raises a number of practical issues, including for the prosecution service. Issues such as the admissibility of evidence; the effectiveness of criminal legislation; or the requirements for mutual legal assistance involving multi-jurisdictional cases have a major impact on the work of prosecutors.

Moreover, terrorism cases tend to be more complicated than others, for various reasons, such as the skill of the perpetrators, the nature of their methods, and rapid developments in legislation within the various jurisdictions involved.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This seminar brings together practitioners and experts from six continents of the world to share their experiences, discuss their common challenges and explore ways to deal with them; and share examples of best practices to guide them in their future activities. It is my hope that it will also serve to strengthen international counter-terrorism cooperation, both in general and, in particular, among prosecutors.

I would also like to highlight the complementary and mutually reinforcing roles of effective counter-terrorism measures, on the one hand, and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, on the other. Each is essential to the counter-terrorism effort, and the Counter-Terrorism Committee continues to remind Member States that any measures taken to combat terrorism must comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.

I wish you every success in your deliberations over the coming days, and trust that you will enjoy a productive and rewarding stay here in New York.

Thank you.