UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appreciated India’s support to the counter-terrorism work of the world body and underscored the need to “detect and disrupt” terrorists fleeing the Islamic State prior to them carrying out an attack as a high priority for the international community.
The UN chief made these remarks during the launch of the United Nations Countering Terrorist Travel Programme on Tuesday, over two weeks after the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka claimed by the ISIS.
The programme would help to strengthen international counter-terrorism cooperation, expand multilateral networks for sharing information to detect, identify, disrupt and prosecute terrorists and to ensure that member states most affected by terrorism have the capacity to tackle this evolving threat, he said.
“The United Nations Countering Terrorist Travel Programme we launch today is about helping to meet all these objectives. I would like to thank the Dutch Government for its generous contribution to this effort,” he said.
“I appreciate the continued support of the Governments of India, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar to the counter-terrorism work of the United Nations,” Guterres said.
The UN chief noted that following the territorial defeat of ISIL (also known as ISIS and Islamic State), many terrorists are trying to return home or relocate to safe havens or other troubled parts of the world.
“Many are well trained and could carry out future terrorist attacks. Others hope to radicalize and recruit new followers to their cause. They, as well as those they inspire, represent a major transnational threat,” he said.
“Detecting and disrupting these terrorists and other high-risk criminals prior to them carrying out an attack is a high priority for the international community,” he said.
The programme will help member states collect, process and share travel data with other competent national and international authorities, with full respect for privacy and other fundamental freedoms, he said.
“We know that policies that fully respect human rights are essential in tackling violent extremism. This information sharing will enhance the abilities of member states to effectively detect, prevent, investigate and prosecute terrorist offences, including their related travel,” Guterres added.
Highlighting that there has been a dramatic movement of terrorists to and from conflict zones around the world over the last seven years, he said that just two years ago, more than 40,000 people from more than 110 countries may have travelled to join terrorist groups in the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq.
“The recent despicable attacks in Kenya, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, among others, are tragic reminders of the global reach of the scourge of terrorism,” he said, adding such incidents underscore the need to work closely with partners across the United Nations system and beyond.
The General Assembly and Security Council resolution 2396 have reaffirmed the need to strengthen international cooperation and information sharing to improve national detection capacities and prevent the travel of terrorists, Guterres said.
“Importantly, this (the programme) will also enable the detection and disruption of human trafficking and other forms of serious organised crime and to faster identify their victims,” he said.
Guterres said that the UN family is ready to assist in protecting and ensuring the rights of all victims whose interests are served by this project.
“It represents the kind of cooperative, inter-governmental and institutional approach that I aimed for when I established the Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact last year to enhance counter-terrorism coordination and coherence across the system,” he stressed.
In that context, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre has also stepped up its efforts to meet the growing expectations and demands from countries most affected by terrorism, he said.