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  • Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, addresses the Security Council debate on terrorism and cross-border crime.

19 December 2014, Security Council briefing on terrorism and cross-border crime, Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman

On behalf of the Secretary-General and as Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, I thank Chad for convening this timely debate.
Chad is playing a leadership role in the Sahel to address terrorism and cross-border crime. We sincerely appreciate President Déby’s vision and commitment to see the United Nations mission in Northern Mali succeed, and deeply regret the loss of the Chadian peacekeepers in recent months.
This week, we were reminded yet again why we must not tire in our efforts to counter terrorism: the despicable attack on a school in Pakistan by the Taliban. Let us mourn and honour the 132 children by countering rhetoric and acts of hatred with concerted international efforts.
Terrorism represents today a core threat to international peace and security. Transnational crime is fuelling terrorism with money, arms and support to move across borders and destabilise States, particularly the most challenged.
In the Secretary-General’s recent visits to Africa he was constantly reminded that terrorism and cross-border crime cannot be addressed separately.
The Secretary-General stressed earlier this year in his Report to this Council on terrorism in Africa (S/2014/9) that terrorists increasingly rely on cross-border criminality to further their agenda and that these linkages “pose a major threat to peace and stability.”
Drug-trafficking, organising abduction rings, extracting natural resources, conducting joint financial operations—the ways in which terrorists and organised criminals work together seem boundless.
Cross-border crime weakens the authority of the State as it questions the government’s ability to maintain security and provide a peaceful context for economic development. It also creates the conditions that foster corruption and human rights violations, thereby undermining the State’s legitimacy.
Our efforts will not bear fruit unless we combine law enforcement actions with measures to strengthen good governance, rule of law and human rights. We will not uproot the ideologies that lead to violence if we do not win over hearts and minds.
The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy takes precisely that comprehensive approach, particularly its Pillar I, which focuses on addressing the political and socio-economic conditions conducive to terrorism.
The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force supports Member States' efforts in implementing the Strategy. CTITF articulates the United Nations response to terrorism and cross-border crime by: (i) monitoring and analysing the threat, and assessing the needs of Member States; (ii) implementing tailored capacity-building projects; and (iii) delivering this assistance in a coordinated and coherent manner to multiply impact.
First, in the area of monitoring and assessment, the Al-Qaida/Taliban Monitoring Team, one of CTITF’s 35 entities, plays a key role in analysing the evolving terrorist phenomenon and reporting on it. Recently it submitted to this Council a report on specific cases of cooperation between crime syndicates and the Taliban and associated terrorist groups.
The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, also a CTITF entity, consistently warns in its country assessments against the strategic spaces that transnational crime opens to terrorists, and has developed valuable initiatives to promote regional cooperation in challenged areas such as the Maghreb, the Sahel, as well as West and East Africa.
Second, in the area of capacity building, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, is implementing a vast array of projects in Africa to strengthen legal regimes, criminal justice cooperation and border controls. The Sahel Judicial Cooperation Platform, the West African Coast Initiative to create transnational organized crime units, and the Firearms Programme are good examples of the valuable work of UNODC in the region.
The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre has stepped up capacity-building efforts to address terrorist threats at the national, regional and global levels. The Centre is supporting Southern and Central African countries to develop regional counter-terrorism strategies to significantly strengthen their ability to jointly combat terrorism and transnational organised crime.
These efforts build on the UNCCT-supported development of a Joint Plan of Action for the Central Asian region adopted in 2011, which recognised linkages between terrorism and organised crime.
Third, in the area of coordination, CTITF's 10 Inter-Agency Working Groups devote considerable attention to the transnational linkages of terrorism, including organised crime, and how the United Nations can more systematically address them at the national, regional and global levels.
From a global project on assets freezing, to a regional one on border controls in the Sahel and North Africa, and a national project in Nigeria on countering violent extremism, the Task Force and its Working Groups decisively contribute to strengthening the capacities of challenged countries and regions.
In the same spirit of developing comprehensive responses to current security challenges, the Secretary-General also established an inter-agency Task Force on drug trafficking and transnational organised crime, co-chaired by UNODC and the Department of Political Affairs.
Another coordination tool, the United Nations Matrix of CTITF Projects and Activities, which includes more than 220 projects around the world, serves as a useful tool to better map gaps and needs, efficiently allocate resources, and increase transparency and accountability in all areas of our activities.
As a way to strengthen system-wide coordination and emphasise that terrorism and crime affect the development, human rights and rule of law sides of our work, the UN has also developed a number of broader initiatives.
The United Nations Development Program and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations are strengthening the rule of law in settings that are at risk of being used by terrorists or criminals to conduct their operations.
In one of those settings, the Sahel, the United Nations is implementing an Integrated Strategy that relates governance, security and resilience to development.
These are just some examples of how the United Nations is confronting terrorism and cross-border crime.
Going forward, we need to better understand the implications of terrorist and criminal collaboration, systematise our responses and focus on impact in affected countries and regions.
Just as recent peace operations have incorporated cross-border crime analysis into their mission planning, terrorism should be part of the mainstream of the work of the United Nations, particularly through our Special Political Missions, Peacekeeping Operations, and Country Teams in the field.
The need for urgent action to address terrorism and its transnational linkages is regrettably well illustrated, for example by the intensification of Boko Haram activities throughout the Lake Chad Basin region of Central Africa. Over the past few months, Boko Haram has started to take over and control territories in parts of Northeast Nigeria, further compounding the threat to regional peace and security. This situation is expected to worsen as cross-border tension and violence persist.
All efforts should be made to ensure the swift operationalisation of regional and international initiatives to address the cross-border threat posed by Boko Haram following the security summits in Paris, London and Abuja.
As instructed by the Security Council (S/PRST/2014/25), UNOCA and UNOWA will continue to work together, in the spirit of their recent joint mission to Chad and Cameroon. They will assist the countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to address the transnational impact of Boko Haram activities on the political, socio-economic and humanitarian situation in the region. This will include transnational linkages to organised crime.
Boko Haram, Al Qaida, the Taliban, Da-esh and their sinister peers make it abundantly clear that the pervasive synergies between terrorism and cross-border crimes foster conflicts, prevent their resolution and increase the chance of relapse. Ensuring that the tools that we have at our disposal are relevant and effective against the new face of international terrorism will be essential to protect innocents, resolve conflicts and promote the principles and values of the United Nations.
While I can assure you that the Secretary-General and the UN family will continue to use but also to adapt its expertise and tools to address the multidimensional and interrelated security challenges of terrorism and its transnational linkages, including organised crime, we also count on all members of this Council—and all members of the international community—to unite in advancing our capacities and coherence not only to counter but to prevent terrorism.
Thank you.