Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, 8 February 2018, New York.
I would like to thank Under-Secretary-General Voronkov for his informative briefing. It is very welcome that we now have a dedicated Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism to brief us on these matters and to help us move forward on the "All-of-UN" approach to counter-terrorism and the prevention of violent extremism. In addition to UNOCT, the Counter Terrorism Committee and Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate, also UNDP and UNODC are key partners in this work.
As we have heard from Mr Voronkov this morning, the list of countries stuck by terrorism is long. Despite strategic setbacks in Syria and Iraq, thanks to the resolve of the global coalition, to which we belong ISIL/Daesh remains a serious threat to international peace and security. The ongoing transformation of this group, from having territorial ambitions to being a networked global organization with less control over its affiliates, is a clear trend. This will present new challenges to combatting its activities. At the same time, the organization remains locally embedded in a number of protracted conflicts, as we've heard this morning, for example in Afghanistan and Libya.
Adapting to the changing nature of the ISIL threat will be essential if we are to respond successfully. The Council has been proactive in this regard, by adopting a significant number of resolutions with a bearing on counter-terrorism last year, including resolution 2396 on foreign terrorist fighters. However, as USG Voronkov stressed, to have the desired effect, these resolutions must be fully implemented. We welcome the support being provided by the UN to member-states in this regard, particularly in relation to capacity building.
The fight against terrorism is integral to the Council delivering on its responsibility in maintaining international peace and security. The link between terrorism and conflict is clear. Of the 22 countries most impacted by terrorism in 2016, all were defined as being in conflict. In addition, it is worth recalling that since the year 2000, 99% of deaths resulting from terrorism have taken place in countries either in conflict, or with high levels of political instability.
Efforts to combat terrorism cannot, therefore, be viewed in isolation but must be seen within the broader context. Fully implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustaining Peace agenda should be seen as a core part of our efforts.
Preventing violent extremism remains critically important and must be viewed as a long-term endeavour. As underlined in the report, it is essential to manage the spread of violent extremism in prison. Sweden has worked on this issue both at home and abroad, including in Somalia, where staff from the Swedish Prison and Probation Services has been seconded support UNSOM and Somali prison authorities to reintegrate convicted Al Shabaab prisoners and to reduce the likelihood of them returning to violent extremism after release.
I thank the Under-Secretary-General for his ongoing and unwavering commitment to the important PVE agenda, in line with our common UN's counter-terrorism strategy as well as the Secretary-General's Prevention of Violent Extremism Plan of Action. It is essential that relevant agencies and organs, including this Council, pay increased attention to the need to prevent violent extremism.
There are three more concrete issues that I would like to address regarding our response to the terrorist threat.
Firstly, on accountability: we must hold perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of terrorism to account.
When doing so, it is, of course, important that the prosecution of suspected terrorists is carried out with full respect of human rights and the rule of law. We look forward to an agreement on the terms of reference for the investigative team for Daesh crimes in Iraq, consistent with UN procedures for sharing evidence, as soon as possible.
The prosecution of terrorism-related offences and war crimes in Swedish courts is increasing. We were amongst the first countries to prosecute suspected perpetrators of war crimes in Iraq and Syria, based on the principle of universal jurisdiction. Last year, an individual was also sentenced to prison for using social media to provoke members of the public to commit a terrorist offence.
This incident underlines how terrorists' use of information and communications technology and social media is a concern. We can, and must, deal with this phenomenon very seriously, but without impinging on the respect for human rights, or on the rule of law. This is the challenge before us: protecting our citizens while simultaneously safeguarding global connectivity and the open, free and secure flow of information. The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the freedom of expression.
Secondly, special attention is needed with regard to the gender dimension in counter terrorism. Women play multiple roles in relation to terrorism, including those of perpetrator, supporter, facilitator, victim and preventer. In a recent study of 15 countries, the Women's Alliance for Security Leadership concluded that women's rights groups were often the first to warn about the signs of rising violent extremism. We welcome the attention in the Secretary-General's report to this issue.
We also note with satisfaction that, in the wake of resolution 2395, we are already seeing the issue of children and the rights of the child increasingly reflected in the work of CTED and in the Secretary-General's report.
Finally, and looking forward, we welcome the Secretary-General's decision to hold a meeting of the heads of member-states' counter terrorism agencies in June. The transnational nature of many terrorist activities make the prevention of terrorist acts by any one country alone more difficult, and my Ethiopian colleague just referred to this. This will be an important opportunity for our respective operational agencies to meet. Let me also underline the importance we attach to the review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which is set to take place in June. We hope the negotiations will be productive and result in strengthened cooperation.