The UN General Assembly has approved the establishment of a new office to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts, a move welcomed by India as a “much awaited first step” that will align the world body with needs of the global community in the fight against the menace. The 193-member General Assembly adopted a consensus resolution on Friday creating the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism that will be headed by an Under-Secretary-General.
India welcomed the creation of the new UN counter-terrorism office, saying it demonstrates the importance member states place on collective and coordinated action on terrorism, which remains the most complex threat faced by the international community.
“India believes that the creation of the Office of Counter Terrorism Coordinator is a much awaited first step in our efforts to enhance coordination of the UN’s CT (counter-terrorism) efforts,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said in the General Assembly after the resolution’s adoption.
He said the office’s creation “will align the UN with the changed global reality and needs of the international community” as was articulated by Secretary General Antonio Guterres himself in Kabul where he said support to terrorism entails a high price.
Addressing reporters in Kabul, Guterres had warned that any country that supports terrorism anywhere in the world in relation to other countries, “sooner or later the price paid will be high in relations to terrorism within the country itself”.
Welcoming the creation of the counter-terrorism office, Guterres expressed hope that this reform of the UN counter-terrorism architecture will contribute to the world body’s broader efforts to promote conflict prevention, sustainable peace and development.
Akbaruddin noted that “an all of UN” approach and a certain convening power on counter-terrorism issues will be crucial for the new office to fulfil its functions effectively. He said terrorist organisations are not bound by the borders, norms, legal frameworks and bureaucratic inertia that bind nations as member states and the UN at all levels.
“While terrorist networks use modern platforms such as social media, cyber space and exist in parallel worlds alongside us in hidden trans-national networks, we cannot work in silos created either by boundaries or bureaucracy,” he said.
Akbaruddin underscored that there was never a stronger case today for more multilateral action, coordination and cooperation on any matter amongst all stakeholders than on terrorism.
“The office should not only engage member states at a higher political level but also cooperate with other international organisations dealing with issues relating to terrorism for fulfilling its mandate effectively,” he said adding that it is important to build the UN narrative on counter terrorism for the ordinary people who are threatened by this scourge.
A statement issued by Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Secretary-General considers counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism to be one of the highest priorities of the United Nations to address a growing threat to international peace and security.
“The Secretary-General expects the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre within the new Office of Counter-Terrorism to play a central role in the provision of enhanced capacity building assistance to Member States,” the statement added.
India had repeatedly stressed on the need for “coherence and coordination” at the UN in dealing with terrorism. It had lamented that as many as 31 entities within the United Nations deal with some aspect of countering terrorism, calling it a case of “too many cooks spoil the broth”.
Under the new structure, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force Office (CTITF) and the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT), currently in the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) will be transferred to the new office, together with their existing staff and all associated regular and extra-budgetary resources. The Secretary-General had proposed that the new Under-Secretary-General would Chair the Task Force and Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre.
The main functions of the new office would include enhancing coordination and coherence across the 38 Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force entities, strengthening the delivery of UN counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance to Member States, improving visibility, advocacy and resource mobilisation for UN counter-terrorism efforts and ensuring that due priority is given to counterterrorism across the United Nations system and that the important work on preventing violent extremism is firmly rooted in the strategy.