Swedish Statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, 23 August 2018, New York.
Thank you for calling for this important meeting. I would also like to thank Under-Secretary-General Voronkov, Executive Director Coninsx and Dr Cook for their informative briefings. We are particularly pleased to see Dr Cook here, as insights of research institutions and civil society organizations are extremely valuable for our understanding of how to best address the evolving threat of terrorism. Civil society is often best placed to identify risks of the radicalization that, if not prevented, can lead to violent extremism and terrorism. The collaboration between the United Nations and civil society should therefore be further strengthened in this field, and in this regard, we appreciate Under-Secretary-General Voronkov's ongoing efforts to increase cooperation between the UNOCT and civil society.
The links between terrorism and conflict are clear. Even if ISIL has been pushed back considerably, it remains locally embedded in a number of protracted conflicts, for example in Afghanistan and Libya. Efforts to combat terrorism cannot, therefore, be viewed in isolation, but must be seen within our broader efforts to resolve and prevent conflicts, and promote peace. To fully implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Sustaining Peace agenda, should also be at the core of these efforts. The SDGs is a longer-term endeavor, but remain the key to preventing violent extremism, which should be our first priority.
The SDGs are relevant to this agenda in many aspects, not least by generating hope. But to mention one more direct example, ensuring the sustainability of the financial system, as reflected in SDG 16.4, is directly related to countering financing of terrorism, which is decisive in the fight against terrorism. My Minister of Justice took part in the "No Money for Terror"-conference in Paris in April this year, and we have undertaken significant reform domestically in this area. We stand ready to take part in efforts at all levels – globally, regionally as well as nationally – to further improve the systems to close access to financing, through the collected efforts of the UN, FATF and the EU.
Assuring accountability should be another essential part of our efforts to counter terrorism. We are particularly concerned by the continued failure to prosecute in cases of sexual and gender-based violence, including sexual slavery, perpetrated by terrorist organizations. Perpetrators of such horrendous crimes must be held to account. This is not only important to deter such acts, but also to serve justice to the countless number of victims of terrorism. We welcome that this Tuesday marked the first International Day of remembrance of and tribute to victims of terrorism.
We are pleased to see increased attention to both the gender dimension and to children's rights in the fight against terrorism. Dr Cook's briefing has reminded us that these issues deserve even greater focus. It is for example important that we develop rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, which are tailored for children and are gender-sensitive.
Let me take this opportunity to highlight some of our national experiences to counter terrorism, that we think can serve as inspiration also to others. Last year, the national coordinator to prevent violent extremism presented a concluding report on our national efforts. A key finding was that municipalities needed greater capacity and support to address the challenges of violent extremism. Therefore, the Swedish Center to Prevent Violent Extremism was established to support the municipalities in their work to counter and prevent violent extremism – with knowledge, research and good examples. In addition, municipalities have now appointed local coordinators, which will help strengthen the cooperation between local and national levels, and they can access state funding for programs aimed at preventing violent extremism.
Another report on children's involvement in violent extremism, which was presented by the Swedish Ombudsman for Children earlier this year, showed that there is a need to listen more to children's experiences to achieve their successful reintegration into society. As a result, social services have now issued recommendations on how to deal with returnees and their families that is now being implemented.
While local, national and regional efforts are important, international cooperation remains central if we are to be successful in our counter-terrorism efforts. The first ever High-Level Conference for Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies, which was successfully held by the end of June this year, was very useful in facilitating such cooperation. Some of the most valuable contributions during this conference came from civil society representatives, why we stress the importance of having civil society present also in the future at such meetings, without limitations.
Let me conclude by reiterating that all measures against terrorism must be taken in compliance with international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law. The respect for human rights must never stand aside in the fight against terrorism.