Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

15 January 2013 - Statement to the United Nations Security Council

15 January 2013

Comprehensive Approach to Counter Terrorism

Statement by H.E. Gary Quinlan
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of Australia to the United Nations



Thank you, Mr President, for Pakistan’s leadership in hosting this debate. We know that Pakistan is on the front line of terrorism. The terrible attacks in Quetta, Swat Valley and elsewhere in Pakistan in the last week are a stark reminder of this. In the face of this violence, the example of Malala and her fellow students is inspirational. It must strengthen our determination to oppose terrorism and be our beacon.

Mr President, terrorism is still one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and therefore a decisive focus for the Council. The threat is now more diffuse and decentralized. But the fact is that in the last few years some 12,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks annually. And States and regions are destabilised. The nature of the threat, and the methods and strategies of terrorist groups are constantly evolving and presenting new risks. We are now engaged against its direct threat in Mali and the Sahel.

Of course, States’ understanding of the most effective ways to tackle terrorism has also evolved. Evidence and experience is accumulating, enabling us to refine approaches and improve effectiveness. We know that good intelligence, strong law enforcement, and prosecutions are important. But equally we know they are not enough. We must also tackle the drivers of terrorism, the terrorist narrative, and the processes of radicalisation.

The Security Council shares a strong commitment against terrorism – as is very clear from the comments this morning. It has already played a central role in the evolution of a comprehensive policy response: through criminalisation, prevention of financing and incitement, by mobilising technical assistance and recognising emerging issues.

I will direct my comments to two crucial elements of a comprehensive approach: effective prevention; and strengthened cooperation and coordination within and between States.

States have had considerable success in prosecuting terrorists and degrading major terrorist networks. This is the case in Australia’s own region, South East Asia – where Indonesia has, for example, prosecuted more than 600 terrorists since the Bali bombing in 2002. This shared law enforcement success has also exposed a key challenge - prisons are, in many cases, a weak link in counter-terrorism efforts. Terrorists continue to recruit, and plan attacks from prison, and the reality is that many prisoners are now beginning to be released.

Effectively managing and rehabilitating extremist detainees is increasingly important for prevention. Sharing best practices and developing common strategies for this is essential. The Global Counterterrorism Forum work in this area has been highlighted today. Australia, Indonesia and other South East Asian countries are using this work to develop regional approaches.

Mr President, terrorist organisations continue to recruit new members and sympathisers. To defeat terrorism, we must counter the forces that drive it. This means strengthening our societies to reject violent extremism. Approaches will vary depending on the circumstances, but some common elements include:

• First, ensuring inclusive communities, where everyone has a voice and where everyone has access to education with strong curriculums, and access to work. The world is experiencing a tremendous youth bulge. As China’s Vice Minister Tiankai has pointed out, the average age of terrorists is  getting younger. Youth unemployment remains one of the greatest vulnerabilities in all regions and all of our countries. We need to make urgent progress in engaging youth in our societies, and most basically by generating jobs;

• Second, promoting values that, when broadly subscribed, can help communities resist the terrorists' message – values of tolerance, understanding and dialogue within and between religions and cultures, and respect for diversity; and

• Third, strengthening the rule of law, and ensuring fairness and equality before the law, to remove a potential grievance often exploited by terrorists.

States need to be innovative in using modern communications to promote these values. The Internet provides the perfect medium for terrorists to recruit, proliferate their ideology and get financing. Research is showing that young people – those most susceptible to extremists messaging – are more familiar with the terrorist narrative than they are with the positive counter-narrative. Governments need to drive the debate on the Internet and through social media to ensure that their positive messaging is heard above the extremists’ messaging.
We must also continue to communicate the values of tolerance, understanding, equality and diversity at the international level. The Alliance of Civilizations, and interfaith dialogue, such as the regional dialogue we have in South East Asia are still crucial.

An effective comprehensive approach to terrorism demands strong collaboration and coordination – nationally, regionally and globally.

Effective coordination at the national level requires systematic cooperation between law enforcement agencies and with other agencies that are better equipped to address the causes of terrorism, such as agencies for youth, culture and religion, education and community affairs. This means frequent communication about threats, operations and long-term objectives.

States need to strengthen collaboration with regional networks. We have learned from experience with the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) the real benefits of bringing together regional law enforcement professionals for training in a dedicated facility. JCLEC has trained over 12,000 officers, and in the process built understanding of the common challenges and diverse needs of the Asia Pacific region, strengthened personal relationships that deliver cooperation across borders, and developed a sense of common purpose. We need more of these regional facilities – in other regions – and Australia is committed to working with others to achieve this.

At the global level, effective coordination between UN entities is necessary to promote a comprehensive approach. The appointment of a UN Counter Terrorism Coordinator would enhance strategic and operational cohesion and should happen. More cooperation is needed globally to prevent the financing of terrorism as others have emphasised today. We also need to further mainstream the analysis of terrorism, its causes and measures to address it, into the UN’s peace and security agenda, including mandates of political missions and peacebuilding efforts.

In concluding, Mr President, please let me emphasise that as a newly-elected Security Council member, Australia will strongly support the Council’s ongoing efforts to combat and prevent terrorism. As the threat continues to evolve, our strategies to counter it also need to improve. The Council’s role will continue to be central in this. No matter how hard the task, we must be a step ahead.

Thank you Mr President.