Statement by Foreign Minister Tuomioja on the Launch of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

Statement on behalf of the European Union by Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, at the 61st session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19 September, 2006, in New York City.

Mme. President,

Let me start by congratulating you, –also from my part– on your assumption of the office of the President of the General Assembly.

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

* Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Mme. President,

The continuing terrorist attacks around the world are a constant and painful reminder that terrorism remains one of the most serious threats to all States and peoples. It poses a grave threat to our security, to the values of our democratic societies and to the rights and freedoms of people, especially through the indiscriminate targeting of the innocent. We would like to take this opportunity also to express our profound solidarity with victims of terrorism.

The European Union reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. There is no cause or grievance that can justify terrorist acts.

Mme. President,

Terrorism is a global menace that requires a global response, as terrorists know no borders. The United Nations plays a key role in our common fight against terrorism. It is imperative that the UN, including the General Assembly and its Member States, continue to show their unity and resolve in combating terrorism. Only by acting together can the international community be successful.

This common belief initiated the mandate given by Heads of State and Government at the World Summit in September 2005, urging the General Assembly to develop, without delay, a strategy to promote comprehensive, coordinated and consistent responses to terrorism at the national, regional and international levels.

Mme. President,

The European Union applauds the adoption of the first ever United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy during the 60th session of the General Assembly on 8 September which in our mind is the best possible consensus outcome in the current state of world affairs. The adoption of the Strategy by consensus is a strong political signal to the world. It demonstrates the determination and resolve of the General Assembly to overcome disagreements and unite its members behind our shared goal of preventing and combating terrorism.

In the same spirit of compromise and co-operation, we should continue our efforts to bridge the differences that still exist. We believe that the General Assembly should keep up the momentum and make every effort to reach an agreement on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, based on the Coordinator's text, without further delay.

The European Union wishes to commend the President of the 60th Session of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, for his firm and determined leadership which made it possible to adopt the strategy. In addition, the EU wishes to extend its congratulations to the two Co-Chairs of the informal consultation process, the Permanent Representatives of both Singapore and Spain, Ambassadors Menon and Yáñez-Barnuevo and their team, for their excellent work.

The European Union reiterates its heartfelt thanks to the Secretary-General for his report, "Uniting Against Terrorism", that contains detailed recommendations for a global counter terrorism strategy. The EU endorsed this report as the basis of the Strategy. The preparation of the report was a much welcomed effort led by the Secretariat which included 23 bodies from the UN-system.

Mme. President,

The Strategy's 'Action Plan' provides clear guidance on practical and action-oriented measures to be taken by the Member States nationally and in co-operation with others. For the first time, the manifold efforts and activities of Member States, the UN system and other relevant actors in the field of counter-terrorism are highlighted in a single document.

The European Union urges Member States, if they have not already done so, to ratify or accede to all sixteen UN Counter-Terrorism Conventions and Protocols that form the solid legal basis of the counter-terrorism measures.

The European Union commends the work of the CTC and other Security Council bodies that deal with counter-terrorism, namely the committees established by resolutions 1267 and 1540. The EU remains committed to cooperating with all three committees and calls upon the Member States to comply with their Charter-based obligations to fully implement resolutions 1267(1999), 1373(2001) and 1540(2004) and the subsequent resolutions, including 1566(2004), as well as resolution 1624(2005).

Mme. President,

It is imperative that all measures against terrorism comply with international law. The European Union is pleased that the Strategy includes a section reaffirming a clear legal framework for anti-terrorist activities, set out by the instruments and norms of international law, including human rights, refugee and international humanitarian law, as well as the principles of the rule of law. The EU also particularly welcomes the fact that the Strategy reaffirms that the promotion and the protection of human rights for all and the rule of law are essential to all components of the Strategy. The European Union encourages all States to implement the measures listed in the Strategy to achieve this goal.

Capacity-building in all States is a core element of the Strategy. The Strategy also aims at enhancing the coordination and cooperative efforts of the UN system as a whole, as well as other relevant actors in the field of counter-terrorism. In this regard, the European Union particularly welcomes the institutionalisation of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force. The Member States need to secure the necessary resources for the Task Force.

Mme. President,

While the enhanced co-operation of the international community has brought successes in the fight against terrorism and potential terrorist attacks have been thwarted, long term sustainable success in curbing the scourge of terrorism can only be achieved if we also address conditions that are conducive to the spread of terrorism, including unresolved conflicts. A key challenge in this regard will be to ensure that extremist ideologies will not prevail.

The EU will also continue its efforts to strengthen dialogue and promote mutual understanding between cultures and civilisations and welcomes, in this respect, initiatives such as the Alliance of Civilisations.

The European Union attaches great importance in the Strategy to prohibit by law the incitement to commit terrorist acts and prevent such conduct. The Council of Europe Convention on Prevention of Terrorism  –for the first time at the international level– establishes as criminal offences public provocation, including incitement to terrorism, recruitment, and training that may lead to terrorist offences. The Convention provides the Members of the Council of Europe a consistent and coherent basis for their implementation of the Security Council resolution on incitement to terrorism.

Mme. President,

The fight against terrorism is a priority for the European Union as proved by its own counter-terrorism instruments, including the EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the EU Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to terrorism, as well as initiatives with other regional partners, in particular the Euro-Mediterranean Counter-Terrorism Code of Conduct adopted in November 2005 at the Barcelona Summit. The Union stands ready to implement the Strategy in co-operation with the Member States, UN system, and other relevant actors. It is now incumbent on all of us, –Member States of the United Nations–, to ensure and actively support the implementation of the Strategy in all its dimensions.

I thank you.