Monday, September 24, 2018

UN High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies

STATEMENT BY H.E. Wais Ahmad Barmak

Minister of Interior of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

at UN High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies

29 June 2018

NEW YORK

(Please check against delivery) 

Co-Chairs, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to thank UN Secretary-General H.E. Antonio Guterres for convening this Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies. This provides a good opportunity for the global community to hold frank and open discussions about terrorism, an issue that is threatening all of us without exception.

It is obvious that an effective global response to terrorism is dependent on various factors, particularly, decisive action by member-States in meeting counter-terrorism obligations and sufficient cooperation at regional and international levels. For both imperatives, enhancing operational capacity in States, where needed, are essential for the goal at hand.

For Afghanistan, the building-up of strong security institutions, including our National Police, is an experience well known to us.  Since 2001, the global community has stood beside us in our decades-long fight against international terrorism. In that endeavor, international partners have provided us with crucial support in resources and training, which has helped enable our security forces to confront elements of many terrorist groups that have come from beyond, seeking to destroy everything we value – from democracy and civil liberties to promotion of human rights and above all – achieving a stable Afghanistan that is a catalyst for international peace and stability. 

Our forces have also inflicted heavy losses on, and degraded and eliminated a significant part of Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorist groups. The security effort against all enemy combatants, including FTFs will continue with priority. In doing so, we will continue to not only defend and protect our people, but the world at-large.

While our forces are confronting all FTFs, we have opened the doors for peace to the reconcilable Afghan Taliban. President Ghani’s unconditional cease-fire to the Taliban reaffirmed our commitment to lasting peace. We await the Taliban’s long-term commitment to this historic offer, which can pave the way for peace and reconciliation.

Co-Chairs,

We hope this Conference leads to enhanced international cooperation against terrorism by improving the UN’s response to terrorism through better inter-agency coordination; enabling States to fulfill CT obligations with capacity-building assistance; and identifying challenges and gaps on the part of States in meeting their counter-terrorism obligations under the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. 

Afghanistan places high value in the UN’s role in promoting international peace and stability. We have always supported the idea of having a more central UN structure to better coordinate and respond to the evolving terrorist threat and assistance-needs of States.

The formation of the Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT) last year, signaled an important step in that direction. We have confidence in the leadership and vision of USG Vladimir Voronkov and hope that the new office leads to more tangible progress by the UN and member-states in combating terrorism. Accordingly, we expect the office to deliver comprehensively in implementing the 4 Pillars of the Global Strategy with balance and sufficient focus.

In our perspective, the following points are essential in regards to the work of the OCT:

First, we believe the Office should maintain adequate and sustained collaboration with member-states, particularly those facing terrorism and standing in the first line of defense against this menace. Afghanistan places high value in the work of the OCT and our relationship with it.  As always, country visits by relevant UN bodies have special value in strengthening relationships, identifying gaps and necessary areas of collaboration on various CT aspects. 

Second, and on a related note, support and assistance by the OCT should be guided by specific contexts and needs, requested by respective States.

Third, we believe that the new office can only benefit from the expertise and know-how of countries that have experience in countering terrorism, in all its aspects. This can go a long way in benefiting the technical and operational outputs of the Office.

Fourth, it is most evident that adequate, comprehensive and efficient coordination of UN agencies are at the heart of a successful UN counter-terrorism response. As the primary UN body mandated to deal with this issue, we expect the OCT to improve advocacy, visibility, and resource mobilization for counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism within that framework.

These will be essential for the overall implementation and follow up on various international protocols, conventions, and tools on counter-terrorism.

Fifth, and certainly not least, we believe it should enhance focus in ensuring the rights of victims of terrorism, including their families, with adequate financial and psychological support. Afghanistan had the honor of facilitating the adoption of GA resolution entitled “International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism,” and we hope it will be a basis for greater attention to this important issue.

Co-Chairs,

The Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) was established to monitor and facilitate the adequate implementation of one of the most important UN resolutions dealing with terrorism – UNSC resolution 1373. Yet, the evolving scope of terrorism has shown that 1373 and other UNSC and GA resolutions are not adequately implemented. Afghanistan has proven through words and deeds our overriding commitment to our counter-terrorism obligations.

All countries, including Afghanistan, would hugely benefit from sustained collaboration and additional technical expertise. CTED’s first-ever visit to Afghanistan in January last year helped identify new areas of cooperation in several key areas. The follow-up joint meeting, together with donor countries and UN agencies discussed provision of technical assistance, based on recommendations of the visit report.

While such assessments are most useful, it is equally important to ensure timely follow-up and coordination so that pledges of technical assistance are met in timely and efficient manner. 

Moreover, we believe the OCT and CTED are well positioned to foster greater cooperation and awareness among regional countries, by various initiatives on relevant UN counter-terrorism resolutions. We stand ready to host such initiatives in Kabul.

To conclude, I reiterate that Afghanistan remains a most credible partner with the UN and the international community in the global fight against terrorism. We hope this Conference will lead to stronger ties and cooperation among all in this strategic imperative.

We wish to, once again, express our gratitude to the UN Secretary General for elevating the counter-terrorism efforts in the agenda of this noble organization.

 Thank You!

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan