Statement by H.E. Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister of Turkey, at UN Security Council Thematic Meeting on Counter-Terrorism

Ahmet Davutoğlu 27.09.2010
Dear Colleagues,

Turkey has had a longstanding, direct experience with terrorism. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express our solidarity with all victims of terrorism around the world and express our sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives at the hands of terrorists.

This unfortunate and painful experience has taught us, among other things, the indispensable nature of international cooperation in combating this scourge. Indeed, terrorists operate across borders, exploit opportunities and use every available technology presented to them in today’s globalized world. Efforts to counter this threat therefore need to be firm, coherent and adaptive.

The United Nations has a central role in laying the ground to make this possible. Indeed, through the adoption of a number of conventions, protocols and resolutions, the UN has provided the international community with a sound legal structure on counter-terrorism. Through these instruments, we have identified the relevant norms and necessary measures for preventing and suppressing terrorist acts, as well as for bringing to justice their perpetrators and facilitators.

However, there is still a regrettable, significant gap between the objectives behind these measures and the stark reality. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us, as members of the Security Council, to make a candid assessment of the nature of ongoing shortcomings and to search for remedies. This would constitute a vital first step to reenergize international efforts in counter-terrorism.

Let me cite a few areas of shortcoming, as we see them:

Criminal justice is one crucial case in point. Victims of terrorism need to see that those who are engaged in terrorist acts are punished. Terrorists, on their part, should have no false pretention of immunity from justice. However, terrorists are still able to exploit loopholes in legal mechanisms and at times, manage to escape criminal justice before our very eyes. Granting of asylum to perpetrators or supporters of terrorism, for instance, continues to be a stumbling block on the way to extradition. Therefore, while upholding the rule of law, we need to remedy these loopholes.

Terrorist financing is another important area where much more needs to be done. Despite the UN Convention on Suppression of Financing of Terrorism and Security Council resolution 1373, this critical problem continues. It is particularly in this area where terrorist organizations exploit the most the lack of a harmonized, coherent international approach. Methods employed, such as extortion, fund raising through front organizations and transfer of funds by couriers are well known. The international community needs to have a uniform and consistent approach against such activities - an approach that is effective and result oriented.

Another issue that merits particular attention is the phenomenon of incitement to terrorism. Security Council Resolution 1624 calls upon all states to prohibit, by law, incitement to terrorist acts. However, there is an increasing trend in terrorism-related propaganda. Terrorist organizations benefit from freedoms inherent to our societies and exploit them for their own purposes, namely to terrorize audiences, to breed radicalization, and thus facilitate recruitment and support. In fact, there are even examples of terrorist organizations running television stations under pseudo names. We cannot allow basic democratic rights, most notably the right to freedom of expression be exploited for motives linked to the aims and purposes of terrorist organizations. It is our shared responsibility to prevent this, and to do so without exception.

Dear Colleagues,

Having mentioned some implementation gaps, I would now like to examine the underlying reasons for our failure in closing these loopholes that have persisted for too long.

Let me start with the notion of political will. Let us be candid: at times lack of political determination is where the problem lies. This cannot be allowed. Our stance needs to be unwavering, both in rhetoric and action.

Lack of capacity in counter terrorism, particularly lack of expertise and resources, is another big challenge for many countries. Countries that have the will, but for one reason or another, lack the capacity to fight terrorism deserve our support. Turkey has security agreements with over 70 countries, with a view to sharing experiences and building capacity. We will continue our efforts in this vein, and encourage others to do the same.

Being a key forum for developing global counter-terrorism norms, the UN also has an important role in assisting countries who should implement these norms.

We strongly commend and support the capacity-building efforts of the relevant UN bodies. I wish to mention, in particular, the importance of the focused and regional approach that CTED has been pursuing. We also appreciate the valuable contributions of the UNODC. In fact, there is a growing need for an enhanced capacity-building and cross-regional cooperation that would strengthen the international counter-terrorism structure. These efforts should also be better coordinated among the UN bodies and with other multilateral stakeholders such as the World Bank, civil society and the private sector. That’s why we strongly support strengthening CTITF’s coordination role in this field.

Last but not the least, counter-terrorism activities need to be conducted on a legitimate basis. Respect for human rights and the rule of law are indispensable elements of a successive counter-terrorism campaign. We are pleased to note that UN bodies have made concrete progress in this direction. In this context, I should particularly mention the Security Council Resolution 1904 which established the post of an Ombudsperson. However, the Security Council continues to face criticism in this area. Therefore, it is the duty of the Council to underline time and again that security and freedom are not conflicting objectives and that this is not a zero sum game.

Dear Colleagues,

The challenge before us is not limited to remedying deficiencies in the present global counter-terrorism framework. We should also proactively debate emerging threats, such as the increasing link between terrorist groups and organized crime, the advent of cyber terrorism and the spread of radical ideologies. In doing so, we should also consider the necessary steps to counter such challenges.

At this point I would also like to share my conviction that the UN, in particular the Security Council, needs to ensure that its focus goes beyond combating terrorism. It should be more comprehensive and focus also on efforts geared towards preventing terrorism. In doing so, the Council can work more closely with the General Assembly in “addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism”. In any case, the UN is the most appropriate forum in which ways and means to address the comprehensive nature of these challenges can be developed.

Dear Colleagues,

My remarks may imply daunting tasks for the United Nations: asking the UN to bring various stakeholders into play in counter terrorism efforts; to provide knowledge and expertise for member states; to develop global norms to address the evolving nature of terrorism in a comprehensive manner; and to monitor implementation of these measures.

Naturally, while putting forward such expectations from the UN, it is my duty to concurrently confirm the firm determination of my country to support these endeavors. The shared determination of UN member states leads me to be optimistic that success is possible and that terrorism can and will be defeated.

I believe that the Presidential Statement of today’s meeting will duly reflect our resolve to keep counter- terrorism as a priority on the agenda of the international community and shed light on particular aspects of counter-terrorism that require more attention and new approaches.

Before concluding, I would like to thank the members of the Security Council for their cooperation and contributions for the preparation of this thematic meeting and the PRST.

Thank you.