Speakers Urge Greater Support for States with Porous Borders, Weak Legal Mechanisms, Share Ways to Tackle Threats from ISIL/Dae’sh, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram
Combating terrorism and organized crime hinges on unravelling and severing the ties between these twin threats while addressing their root causes, delegates told the Security Council today.
More than 60 speakers shared concerns and proposed ways to build or strengthen counter-terrorism efforts at national, regional and global levels during a day-long debate. Many voiced support for a related draft resolution, proposed by Peru, whose country holds the Council presidency in July, which aims at driving effective, collective action.
Describing the current landscape and challenges ahead, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said criminals and terrorists share a need to operate in the shadows, exploiting gaps in criminal justice responses in and between countries and regions. They also employ each other’s tactics and trafficking practices, he said, pointing at Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) as an example of a terrorist group profiting from kidnapping for ransom, illegal oil sales and trafficking in cultural property. To hobble such illicit activities, treaties that enjoy near-universal acceptance should be better used to promote coherence between domestic anti-crime and counter-terrorism legislation with relevant regional and international instruments. More resources must also be channelled into technical assistance to strengthen specialized expertise and capacities, he said, adding that UNODC’s global “Networking the Networks” initiative is enhancing the efforts of law enforcement bodies to cooperate at local, regional and global levels.
A representative of the International Consultant of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute said these twin threats thrive at the local level, with ISIL seeing early on that it could draw funds from smuggling and the sale of illegal goods. Meanwhile, smaller terrorist cells are focused on recruiting criminals in prisons, which have become true “incubators of the link” between terrorists and criminals and a place for exchanging knowledge. Moreover, the less predictable threats from criminals turned terrorists remain a growing concern. Local-level criminality pose a serious and global risk. Even petty crime is no longer just about policing, she stressed, calling on the international community to act, as this heightened connection may hinder the ability to fight terrorism and increase vulnerability to criminal activities.
The Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate said the territorial losses ISIL sustained have contributed to its efforts to access funds through kidnapping, extortion and trafficking of drugs and weapons. The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate helps countries to tackle this joint threat, working with Governments to study existing links and identifying effective practices, including the creation of joint investigative units and prosecution authorities to handle both organized crime and terrorism. Yet, a significant disconnect persists between the level of concern expressed by policymakers, the implementation of legal frameworks addressing terrorism and transnational organized crime, and the actual level of investigation and prosecution of cases involving both criminal and terrorist groups. To rectify this, the role of financial intelligence units should be strengthened and stakeholders must overcome institutional barriers.
In the ensuing discussion, many delegates called for greater cooperation among States and support to countries struggling with porous borders and weak legal mechanisms. Representatives largely agreed that the terrorism/organized-crime links must be further studied, dismantled and closely examined to identify and address the root causes.
Several delegates said poverty and underdevelopment were among the leading drivers of terrorism. The representative of Equatorial Guinea said nations must focus on inclusive development and growth to, among other things, prevent the radicalization of young people and other vulnerable groups.
Similarly, Sudan’s delegate underlined the importance of development and of establishing a balanced, fair global order to prevent terrorism from taking root. For its part, Sudan has been able to curb both terrorism and transnational organized crime, he said, warning that the links between them now pose even greater danger. In that regard, he called for inexpensive, coordinated approaches — based on international and bilateral support and fully in accordance with international law — to help countries combat the menace.
The representative of the Philippines, describing the well-established links between international terrorism and organized crime in his country, said the Abu Sayyaf Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Maute Group and Ansar al Khalifa — all of which have declared allegiance to ISIL — fund their operations through criminal activities, mostly drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and arms smuggling, while operating under the rubric of freedom struggles, “covering themselves with the mantle of victims of human rights-religious-conscience violations”. Intensive military operations enabled the Government to recapture Marawi in six months — less than the six years it took the West to recapture Raqqa in Syria. At the same time, the autonomy granted to Muslim Mindanao is intended to end the decades-long conflict that Abu Sayyaf and local terrorist groups have used as cover for their operations, he said, adding that the Government is amending the Human Security Act to render it more responsive.
France’s representative said the November 2015 attacks in Paris spotlighted the link between terrorism and petty crime. Elsewhere in the world, particularly where State authority is contested, such links can be stronger, leading to more active cooperation. Emphasizing his country’s full commitment to combat terrorism and organized crime, he said support of subregional and regional organizations such as the G-5 Sahel Force and the European Union is indispensable in the quest for a response to this linkage.
India’s representative, echoing a common message, said criminals and terrorists are increasingly reaching out to each other. In his region, he said, “we have seen the metamorphosis of Dawood Ibrahim’s criminal syndicate into a terrorist network known as D-Company”. Tackling these threats requires collective inter-state efforts alongside support from private and public enterprises involved in facilitating transboundary financing flows, so they do not fall prey to malevolent aims, in the vein of Osama bin Laden’s string of “retail honey shops”.
Delegates shared their approaches to dealing with threats posed by ISIL/Dae’sh, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups. China’s representative said his country has carried out initiatives to combat terrorist activities, including through a deradicalization campaign.
The speaker for the European Union said a recently amended law aims at, among other things, increasing transparency about who owns companies and trusts, tackling terrorist financing risks linked to the anonymous use of virtual currencies and pre-paid instruments, and improving cooperation and the exchange of information between anti-money laundering supervisors and the European Central Bank.
Italy’s delegate recalled his country’s “long and bloody” season of domestic terrorism in the 1970s, which also had international connections. Judicial investigations revealed evidence of rare local cooperation between terrorists and criminals, but by the end of the 1980s, domestic terrorists had been defeated and the Italian authorities concentrated their attention on organized crime. The National Anti-Mafia and Antiterrorism Directorate, established in 1991 and comprising 23 senior public prosecutors, is Italy’s coordinating body for anti-mafia investigations, and is essential in addressing the increasingly complex actions of organized criminal groups.
Côte d’Ivoire’s representative said that while the link between terrorism and organized crime is a collective concern, these phenomena often affect countries lacking the human, financial and logistical resources required to fight against such threats. Building the capacity of institutions in these countries should boost efforts to, among other things, collect and share information and to strengthen cooperation in security-related matters.
The Russian Federation’s delegate agreed. While coordination among the United Nations and regional organization is countering the nexus between these phenomena, there is potential among regional organizations to establish mechanisms to continue the fight, he said, adding that the Council should prepare a resolution on the issue.
Kuwait’s representative, underlining the importance of regional and international strategies, highlighted the essential role played by international instruments, including the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. “We can eradicate this phenomenon only if we are resolute and global in our approach,” he declared.
In the same vein, the United Kingdom’s delegate said Governments alone cannot tackle these problems and partnerships with the private sector and civil society must be strengthened. Just as criminals can learn from each other, so can the international community, he said.
The representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whose organization visited 1 million detainees in 2018, said that while many countries have policies aimed at preventing or eradicating violent extremism, some measures targeting those accused or convicted of terrorism-related offenses can have harmful consequences extending to the wider detained population and society as a whole. Indeed, key safeguards to counter or prevent radicalization include respect for the rule of law and the humane treatment of detainees.
Also speaking were representatives of Peru, Dominican Republic, Belgium, Germany, Poland, South Africa, United States, Indonesia, Mexico, Japan, Canada, Colombia, Guatemala, Estonia, Chile, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Pakistan, Australia, Spain, Argentina, Morocco, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Viet Nam, Egypt, Uruguay, Cuba, Ireland, Maldives, Slovenia, Costa Rica, Algeria, Panama, Iran, Ukraine, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Armenia and the United Arab Emirates.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 3:45 p.m.
YURY FEDOTOV, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said that criminals and terrorists share a need to operate in the shadows, exploiting gaps in criminal justice responses in and between countries and regions. Terrorist tactics can be employed by organized criminal groups while terrorists raise funds through criminal activities. Human trafficking for sexual exploitation, child soldiers and forced labour can be used not only to generate revenue but to strike fear and recruit new fighters. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) has profited a lot from the illegal trade in oil, trafficking in cultural property and kidnapping for ransom. “We have also seen piracy and organized crime flourish on the high seas, including outside the justification of any single State and beyond the capacities of many countries to control,” he emphasized. Al-Shabaab supports piracy and finances operations from trade in Somali charcoal through the Gulf of Oman. Al-Qaida resupplies its forces around the Arabian Peninsula by sea.
Treaties that enjoy near-universal acceptance should be better used to promote coherence between domestic anti-crime and counter-terrorism legislation with relevant regional and international instruments, he said. More resources must be channelled to provide technical assistance to strengthen specialized expertise and capacities. This includes training for law enforcement, coast guards, border and airport officials, prosecutors, judges, prison officers and other relevant officials. “We need to reinforce investment in mechanisms for inter-agency, regional and international cooperation, including information and intelligence sharing,” he said. UNODC’s global “Networking the Networks” initiative is enhancing the efforts of law enforcement bodies to cooperate at local, regional and global levels. In West Africa, the Office promotes the Sahel Judicial Platform, the Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors and the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network.
It is also working with universities and other institutions to advance knowledge about the links between organized crime and terrorism, he continued, noting initiatives that support national law enforcement agencies collaborate to carry out cross-border investigations and to identify and intercept illicit movements of goods. The international community must do more to mainstream integrated action against terrorism and crime across the pillars of the United Nations work. Among other work, the Office is helping identify and protect child trafficking victims recruited by armed extremist groups. Prisons present a potential link between crime and terrorism, he added, also stressing the need to more broadly combat corruption and illicit financial flows.
MICHÈLE CONINSX, Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, outlining the Council’s various activities to combat the financing of terrorism, said the territorial losses sustained by ISIL/Da’esh contributed the group’s efforts to access funds through a wide range of criminal activities including drug trafficking, weapons sales, kidnapping and extortion. Other groups, including Al-Qaida and its affiliates, have also sought similar avenues. Against that backdrop, the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate has actively contributed to international conferences, workshops and expert meetings focusing on those links, including at the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing and elsewhere. It also supports various academic initiatives and research efforts in the field.
Within the framework of country assessment visits, she said, the Executive Directorate engages with national authorities on their perception of the links between terrorism and organized crime, as well as on cases in which such links have been identified. The Executive Directorate has identified several relevant State practices, including the creation of joint investigative units and prosecution authorities to handle both organized crime and terrorism. She noted, however, that a significant disconnect continues to exist between the level of concern expressed by policymakers, the implementation of legal frameworks addressing both terrorism and transnational organized crime, and the actual level of investigation and prosecution of cases involving both criminal and terrorist groups.
While the links can take different forms — depending on the geographic, political and economic context — she said there are some specific areas that could be explored in greater depth. In its recently adopted “Addendum to the guiding principles on foreign terrorist fighters”, the Counter-Terrorism Committee recalled the need to intensify and expedite the timely exchange of financial intelligence, including with a view to effectively determine potential links between terrorism and organized crime. The role of financial intelligence units should be strengthened, she said, noting that the understanding of criminal and terrorist activities achieved by intelligence services is not always reflected at the investigative and prosecutorial levels where relevant agencies too often operate in silos. “Institutional barriers to information-sharing, including between and among local and national authorities, should be overcome,” she stressed, adding that Member States should conduct terrorism-financing risk assessments and engage the private sector and civil society.
TAMARA MAKARENKO, International Consultant of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), stressed the need for a better understanding of the links between terrorism and organized crime. At its most fundamental level, the link between criminals and terrorists is based primarily on transactions and tactics. It exists when terrorists and criminals occupy “the same space at the same time”, she added. The link between terrorism and organized crime also has a local dimension. Noting various ways in which terrorist groups use illicit crimes to fund their operations, she said ISIL/Dae’sh saw from early on that it could draw funds from smuggling and the sale of illegal goods.
Smaller terrorist cells are focused on recruiting criminals in prisons, which have become true “incubators of the link” between terrorists and criminals and a place for the exchange of knowledge, she continued. The relationship between organized crime and terrorism reveals itself in various ways. It is the less predictable threats from small time criminals turned terrorists that remain a growing concern, she stressed. This link implies that even local level criminality poses a serious and global threat. The international community must act, she said, cautioning that this heightened connection may hinder the ability to fight terrorism and increase vulnerability to criminal groups. Even petty crime is no longer just about policing.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), Council President for July, spoke in his national capacity, highlighting the serious threat terrorism and organized crime poses to international peace and security. Recalling previous meetings on the theme, he said Peru proposed a draft resolution to outline actions to take going forward. Pointing out that the two phenomena correspond to different contexts and legal frameworks, he said Peru has suffered directly from links between organized crime and terrorism and is taking steps to address these threats. More broadly, efforts must aim at better understanding this connection so States can better fight against it.
KACOU HOUADJA LÉON ADOM (Côte d’Ivoire) said the convergence of the Council’s views can be seen in past presidential statements and resolutions. Today, the twin phenomena of terrorism and organized crime in West Africa demonstrate that the two elements feed each other. Drug, arms and human trafficking fuel terrorist organizations, who also profit from vulnerable cross-border security conditions. To address this, States must control their land, sea and air borders, maintaining close coordination among institutions dealing with related issues, including financing, legal frameworks and security. While the link between terrorism and organized crime is a collective concern, these phenomena often affect countries lacking the human, financial and logistical resources required to fight against such threats. Building the capacity of institutions in these countries should boost efforts to, among other things, collect and share information and to strengthen cooperation in security-related matters.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said pooling resources and knowledge on terrorist and organized crime organizations makes it easier to fight against these threats. Concerned that members of organized crime groups are becoming radicalized and turning into terrorists, he said efforts must be made to prevent this leap. Ongoing initiatives, including freezing assets and targeting parties that are funding criminal and terrorist activities, must be supported. Highlighting that coordination among the United Nations and regional organization is countering the nexus between these phenomena, he said there is potential among regional organizations to establish mechanisms to continue the fight. Further attention is needed in areas such as arms, drugs and human trafficking, and studying the nexus between these crimes and terrorism, he said, adding that the Council should prepare a resolution on the issue.
MA ZHAOXU (China), emphasizing that the international community must strengthen results-based efforts to effectively fight terrorism and organized crime, said a unified counter-terrorism initiative must respect the territorial integrity of States and refrain from being selective. A comprehensive approach must remove the root causes that breed terrorism and organized crime. Strengthening cooperation must enhance ongoing efforts at a time when organized crime and terrorism are becoming increasingly complex. Effective regional cooperation is key, he said, emphasizing a need for United Nations agencies to work more closely together and with the regions. Targeted capacity-building initiatives should also help States that need such assistance. Efforts must also combat illegal activities by terrorist and organized crime groups by addressing trafficking in everything from weapons to natural resources. For its part, China has carried out initiatives to combat terrorist activities, including through a deradicalization campaign, and will continue to contribute to combating the menace at regional and international levels.
JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic) said the link between terrorism and organized crime has been recognized and proven by the Council to be a threat to international peace and security. The connection between these two ills brings a high human cost and negatively impacts socioeconomic progress. Therefore, it needs to be attacked and prevented. “We need to strengthen public-private partnerships, international cooperation and the relationships between regional and subregional organizations,” he emphasized. Noting that terrorist groups use crime to finance their illicit activities, he called on States to ensure justice for the perpetrators. The Dominican Republic believes that crime prevention is a priority, including for the illicit drug trade, from production to consumption. He highlighted the importance of close cooperation between UNODC and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to help identify ties between criminals and terrorist groups.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) noted that the line of demarcation between terrorism and organized crime can be “very vague”. The link between the two depends on the region and therefore any response must take into account various regional contexts. Europe has experienced several terrorist attacks in recent years. Most of the terrorists who participated in the attacks have criminal pasts, mostly for petty crimes. “This has been different from the radicalization processes we had known until then,” she said, noting that the process of radicalization had occurred in prisons. It is critical to understand the close links between different kinds of organized crimes and the way terrorists benefit from them. Human trafficking and sexual exploitation is used to fund terrorist activities. She also emphasized that no measure taken to tackle organized crime and terrorism should ever impede respect for international law and the work of humanitarians.
KERSTIN PUERSCHEL (Germany) agreed with other speakers that the links between terrorism and organized crime need to be studied and monitored by the competent authorities, first at the level of Member States and then by regional organizations and at the United Nations. “It is first and foremost of importance that our political decisions are based on facts,” she said, noting that the global threat of terrorism manifests differently among different countries and regions. Citing examples in Europe as distinct as the separatists in Northern Ireland and radical pseudo-communist groups such as the Red Army Faction in Germany, she said more recently examples of right-wing terrorism have been seen. In Europe, terrorist activities are not characterized by strong organized crime involvement. However, she warned that “we need to be careful not to lose sight of the specificities of each case”. The role of the United Nations should be that of facilitator of information and amplifier of scientific findings developed foremost by States, regional organizations and civil society actors. Noting that children and women deserve special attention as victims of trafficking, she said Germany has been at the forefront of fostering a discussion on the unintended effects of counter-terrorism measures on impartial, neutral humanitarian actors and is a member of the “group of friends of targeted sanctions”.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said criminal and terrorist groups often recruit from the same pool of people, employ similar operational methods and carry out or benefit from similar activities. Calling for a comprehensive approach and enhanced cooperation to address the two phenomena — undertaken by States in line with their obligations under international humanitarian, human rights and refugee laws — she said further development and standardization of research and analytical skills by relevant bodies is needed. Also important is greater information-sharing, both between local communities and non-governmental actors, Government, regional frameworks and such international mechanisms as INTERPOL. Citing the European Union’s recent legislation and combining of its Financial Intelligence Units network with Europol’s products and services as positive examples of efforts to combat the financing of terrorism, she also underlined the need to address the root causes of the phenomenon. Developing cooperation with and empowering local communities is vital in that regard, not only to better understand terrorism and organized crime and the nexus between them but also to disrupt and prevent them.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), associating himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union, said the November 2015 attacks in Paris spotlighted the link between terrorism and petty crime. Elsewhere in the world, particularly where State authority is contested, such links can be stronger, resulting in more active cooperation and leading to hybridization. Groups such as Al-Qaida and ISIL/Da’esh (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) recruit from the same populations and encourage people to commit crime to finance their operations, he noted. Emphasizing his country’s full commitment to combat terrorism and organized crime, he said the Government of France implements and supports several initiatives, alongside Germany, to fight the trafficking of small arms, particularly in the Balkans, and human trafficking in the Sahel. The support of subregional and regional organizations such as the G-5 Sahel and the European Union is indispensable in the quest for a response to this linkage, he stressed.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), noting that the link between organized crime and terrorism is developing, broadening and diversifying, said the phenomenon of terrorism and its links to organized crime remain a challenge for affected States. “It is necessary to have regional and international strategies to deal with this,” he emphasized, highlighting the important role played by international instruments, including the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. It is critical to strengthen the capacity of States to ensure that they can secure their own borders while combating organized crime, he stressed. A stronger partnership between the public and private sectors will help to ensure that funds are not used to finance terrorism, he said, calling also for strengthening the relationship between UNODC and INTERPOL. Kuwait understands the serious danger of this link and has recently passed a law to combat money laundering, he said, adding: “We can eradicate this phenomenon only if we are resolute and global in our approach.”
XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), describing the links between transnational organized crime and international terrorism as context-specific, expressed support for the call contained in Peru’s draft resolution for the United Nations to carry out a comprehensive, up-to-date study of those links, emphasizing that such a study and its concluding report would provide Member States with a solid basis upon which to further refine their responses in accordance with a common understanding of their global threat profile. Such a study would also provide a comprehensive picture of existing deficiencies in dealing with threats, including lack of capacity in collecting data, among other such areas. While noting the need to expand the common understanding of the threats posed by terrorism and organized crime, he nevertheless stressed the need to remain acutely aware of their severity and of the adverse impact on State resources intended to maintain peace, security and stability while also pursuing socioeconomic development. “Those involved in transnational organized crime and acts of terrorism appear to be resilient, strategic and adept in executing their operations globally,” he pointed out, adding that they target areas in which law enforcement is weak, corruption is endemic and resources are lacking. Such a context demands a collaborative, multilateral response, including through the “One UN” approach, he stressed.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said ties between terrorism and organized crime are strengthening, with groups such as ISIL/Da’esh, Al-Shabaab and other terrorist organizations increasingly using piracy, trafficking and other criminal activities to fund operations. Efforts must become more effective and efficient, he said, emphasizing that previous Council discussions demonstrate that all countries have a role to play. To identify the existing ties, the international community must focus on several areas, including by establishing more in-depth studies and tackling related illicit activities. Alarmed by the growing arsenals amassed by terrorist and criminal organizations, he said African countries must firmly commit to the principles of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba) to stop the illicit trade in minerals, notably uranium and plutonium, on the continent. Nations must focus on inclusive development and growth to, among other things, prevent the radicalization of young people and other vulnerable groups. The newly ratified Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area is related to, among other things, improving border monitoring and preventing criminals and terrorist groups from operating in these locations, he said, calling on the international community to support this “great leap forward” for Africa. Recognizing the role played by the Council’s counter-terrorism and terrorist-group monitoring committees, he reiterated his delegation’s support for increased cooperation among United Nations agencies and relevant stakeholders.
MARK POWER (United Kingdom) said the terrorism-organized crime link varies by region, requiring individual responses. States and the international community must tackle these phenomena by addressing, among other things, their root causes. Criminality can create an enabling environment for terrorist groups and their recruitment drives. Likewise, criminal groups can profit from the conditions created by terrorist attacks. A broad approach must stop the problem at its source, building resilience in communities, businesses and systems. Turning to counter-terrorism efforts, he said a broad preventive approach must fully comply with international human rights law. The United Kingdom conducts annual threat assessments, ongoing studies and enhances law enforcement capabilities. Yet, Governments alone cannot tackle these problems and partnerships with the private sector and civil society must be strengthened. Just as criminals can learn from each other, so can the international community, he said, adding that greater cooperation to combat these threats must continue.
JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States) said terrorist and organized criminal groups work together, helped by conditions such as porous borders. In this regard, intelligence-sharing is essential to improve cross-border security. In addition, counter-terrorism policies and protocols can guide actions, he said, noting that the United States uses international guidelines for its own related initiatives. Citing a range of illicit sources of financing for terrorists — from piracy to arms trafficking — he said countering these links include focusing on addressing the underlying causes. The United Nations can strengthen its role by enhancing its cooperation with regional organizations, he said, noting that his country will continue to work with partner States to address both terrorism and transnational organized crime.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), noting that the financing of transnational organized crime is prominent in the Asia-Pacific region, agreed with other delegates that strengthening national legal measures should be a top priority. Cooperation is also critical because no country or region remains untouched by the effects of cross-border crime or terrorism. Emphasizing the need to work together in addressing such complex and multidimensional phenomena — including through enhanced sharing of information, building law-enforcement capacity and coordinating action among competent agencies — he urged countries to learn from each other’s experiences and best practices, citing the Bali Process, a mechanism co-chaired by Indonesia, as an example of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. He said 49 members of that policy dialogue forum, alongside various observers and international agencies, work in concert to raise regional awareness of the consequences of people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMIREZ (Mexico) said international terrorism and organized crime hinder the stability and well-being of society, as they both present grave challenges that must be addressed in the most serious manner. “There must be a distinction made between the two, however,” he stressed, adding that generalizations are “neither valid, nor timely.” In specific contexts, financial links have been shown to exist and they warrant international attention. He called on the international community to redouble efforts to analyse the linkage and help strengthen the capacity of Member States to respond in a more effective, timely manner to these challenges. “We believe it is unavoidable that these considerations be taken into account in the work of the Council,” he said.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said that both terrorist and criminal groups rely on the use of violence to undermine governance and development. “Terrorist organizations are increasingly involved in lucrative criminal activities, such as trading in natural resources and human trafficking,” he added. Similarly, criminal groups are joining hands with terrorists, and are providing services such as counterfeiting, illicit financing, arms dealing, drug trafficking and smuggling terrorists across borders. The activities of ISIL/Da’esh, Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram, such as extortion, human trafficking, resource extraction, trade in cultural artefacts, illicit taxation in areas they control, blurred the lines between organized crime and terror. “In our own region, we have seen the metamorphosis of Dawood Ibrahim’s criminal syndicate into a terrorist network known as D-Company,” he said. Collective inter-state efforts are required, including at regional and subregional levels. “We also need to harness the support of private and public enterprises involved in facilitating transboundary financing flows, so that they do not prey to malevolent objectives, in the vein of Osama bin Laden string of retail honey shops,” he added.
YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) noted that resolution 2195 (2014) obliges Member States to enhance cooperation and strategies to stop terrorists benefiting from transnational organized crime. Pointing out that 2019 and 2020 are important years for his country’s counter-terrorism policy, he recalled that Japan recently hosted its first “Group of 20” (G20) Summit, which adopted a Leader’s Statement on counter-terrorism. Since Tokyo will also host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, Japan has invested tirelessly in strengthening its counter-terrorism capabilities, including border controls, information gathering and public-private partnerships, in order to ensure safety for all, he said. Having thoroughly implemented the relevant Council resolutions, Japan’s national efforts are undertaken hand-in-hand with global anti-terrorism actions, he added, emphasizing the importance of synchronizing such efforts with action against organized crime. Noting that the latter’s growing magnitude and impact continue to undermine peace and security as well as the rule of law, he said the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols serve as a universal framework for global cooperation in those areas. Its scope is broad enough to cover such challenges as terrorism and cybercrime, he added.
RICHARD ARBEITER (Canada), noting that the links between organized crime and terrorism continue to widen and deepen, cautioned that efforts to confront them will be less effective on all fronts without a coordinated international response. Such a response must also be inclusive and gender-responsive in order to address the drivers of insecurity that perpetuate the phenomena. One key actor is the Global Counterterrorism Forum, an informal coordinating body that supports United Nations efforts to advance implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant resolutions. “This work helps sustain the international commitment to our obligations to fight terrorism under international law,” he said, citing especially international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law. As a future Co-Chair of the Global Counterterrorism Forum alongside Morocco, he said, Canada’s plans to strengthen its relationship with the United Nations further as well as its collaboration with multilateral and regional organizations as well as Member States. He went on to outline Canada’s work with the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism of the Organization of American States (OAS), its funding of INTERPOL database projects and its $55 million contribution to the Financial Action Task Force.
FRANCISCO ALBERTO GONZALEZ (Colombia), noting that terrorism and transnational organized crime were seen as totally unrelated in the past, emphasized the need to build international awareness of the links between the two. Although terrorism and organized crime are quite different by nature, both profit from illicit crime and trafficking, he pointed out, emphasizing that Colombia promotes an integrated approach. Terrorism and organized crime manifest through logistical and shared networks within which they can trade in weapons and promote the movements of their people through false documents. Fighting terrorism requires holistic action, he stressed, calling for strong international cooperation framed by legal structures and technical support. He went on to warn that international conflict is fertile ground on which both terrorists and organized criminals can divert resources.
JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE ARENALES (Guatemala) noted that his country has been greatly affected by transnational crime due to its geographic location. “We continue to be victims of international networks that impact our capacity,” he added. “Their financial power is inexhaustible and their attacks on innocent civilians are despicable.” In addition to causing trauma and anxiety, terrorism and organized crime are uprooting masses of people. While terrorism is a form of violent struggle that victimizes civilians, the aim of organized crime is to make money, he added, pointing out, however: “All of them operate freely in democratic States and attack life.” This pernicious nexus between the two phenomena is what needs to be examined, he continued. Although regional mechanisms have attempted to help countries adopt measures to combat the illegal production of and trafficking in small arms and light weapons, they have not been sufficient, he stressed, calling upon the United Nations to adopt more rigorous controls and monitoring of illegal markets for small arms and light weapons. This trade facilitates organized crime and terrorism and undermines human integrity.
LUDOVICO SERRA (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, also said that, due to its geographical location, his country has also been exposed to the consequences of all forms of trafficking and related crimes committed by exploiting the flows of persons, merchandise and financial resources between Africa, the Middle East and Europe. “We need more information and more evidence-based research in order to define not if those connections exist, but how and where.” Recalling Italy’s “long and bloody” season of domestic terrorism in the 1970s, which also had international connection, he said judicial investigations revealed evidence of rare local cooperation between terrorists and criminals. At the end of the 1980s, however, domestic terrorists had been defeated and the Italian authorities concentrated their attention on organized crime, he said. The National Anti-Mafia and Antiterrorism Directorate, established in 1991 and comprising 23 senior public prosecutors, is Italy’s coordinating body for anti-mafia investigations, he said, adding that the Directorate and its database have been essential in addressing the increasingly complex actions of organized criminal groups, which are deeply rooted in local communities and at the same time acting in collaboration with criminal cartels all over the world.
SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) voiced support for ongoing initiatives, including a new toolkit the Netherlands recently launched to foster a better understanding of the challenges at hand and to share lessons learned. However, ISIL continues to pose a major threat to Iraq and Syria, financing their activities through various crimes. Underlining a need to “cut the head off the snake”, he warned about the recent rise in the use of cryptocurrency by these and other criminal and terrorist groups.
MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) said the lines between terrorism and organized crime continue to blur, as drug trafficking groups are beginning to use terrorist tactics to show their force. The United Nations system must take preventative action, as the main transnational terrorist groups continue to broaden their propaganda, recruiting and illicit trade activities. Cooperation on border zones and between institutions — from the judiciary to the security sector — must be strengthened, as should regional efforts. In addition, recent recommendations on money laundering must be fully implemented, he said, noting that Chile will continue to implement Council resolutions, which will contribute to progress to combating these crimes.
MONA JUUL (Norway), speaking on behalf of Nordic countries, said that to identify illicit financial flows, the link between organized crime and terrorist groups must be severed. Drug trafficking, kidnapping and illicit taxation of gold, oil and other natural resources are just some of the crimes terrorist groups currently use to fund their activities. To address this, the international community must work together, with cross-sectoral cooperation among all stakeholders. In addition, efforts must focus on prisons, which have become a recruiting ground for ISIL and other terrorist groups. Security sector reform and the rule of law must be strengthened by truly disrupting the link between terrorism and organized crime while supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said the crime-terrorist nexus varies across different contexts, with several common areas of confluence, including financing tools, recruiting vulnerable youth and operating in areas outside Government control. As a country affected by terrorism and drug trafficking, Pakistan continues to make record drug arrests every year. The global drug problem must be addressed effectively at local, national, regional and international levels. Citing a range of ongoing regional initiatives to tackle the illicit trade, she said a similar approach can also combat terrorism. Steps to do so can include addressing the root causes, taking a balanced approach and enhancing border control. However, strategies must be tailored to each situation, with the United Nations playing an effective role.
DAVID GREGORY YARDLEY (Australia) said that illicit activities have helped produce hundreds of millions of dollars to fund and perpetuate international terrorism and crime. Recognizing the links across multiple security issues, the creation of Australia’s Home Affairs Portfolio in December 2017 brought together national security policy areas, including terrorism and transnational, serious and organized crime. The creation of Home Affairs has enabled agencies to work closely with partners, domestically and internationally, and to share information more quickly, enhancing the ability to address terrorist threats. He said that a strong counter-terrorism financing regime is critical to disrupting any links between terrorism and organized crime, noting Australia’s hosting of the “No Money for Terror” Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism Financing in November 2019. The annual South-east Asian Counter-Terrorism Financing Summit is another example of multilateral cooperation focused on understanding and responding to terrorism financing, he added.
AGUSTÍN SANTOS MARAVER (Spain) said that terrorist organizations have evolved and now have multiple links to organized crime. In Spain, security forces began to detect the link between organized crime and terrorism following the terrorist attack in Madrid in 2004. He emphasized the importance of sharing intelligence to help prevent more attacks, noting overlap in the illegal activities of terrorist organizations and organized crime groups. Spain’s own national counter-terrorism strategy against serious crimes focuses on boosting the country’s capacity to handle and sift through intelligence. Such mechanisms have paved the way for the improvement of the database of organized crime and terrorism and help to identify potential targets. The existence of a nexus between terrorism and organized crime constitutes a threat that should not be ignored.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) acknowledged the link between terrorism and organized crime, emphasizing the need to bear in mind the delineation of the two. The fight against terrorism requires an integrated and cooperative approach within the framework of international law and international humanitarian law. Argentina has focused on tackling organized crime by addressing the illicit flow of goods and persons. Argentina supports capacity-building within the Organization of American States (OAS), he said, also noting a ministerial conference on counter-terrorism to be held in Buenos Aires on 19 July. He also underscored the importance of increasing collection of data related to transnational organized crime, adding: “We must also respect existing legal frameworks.”
MOHAMMED ATLASSI (Morocco) said terrorism and transnational criminal networks often work together to carry out their heinous operations. Citing the recent increase in terrorist acts and trans-frontier crimes, he said they threaten States’ stability as well as their sovereignty and territorial integrity. Foreign terrorist fighters now move between States, while smugglers traffic in goods, people and illicit money. Moreover, he said, the military defeat of Da’esh sparked the return and resettlement of terrorist fighters in many nations, bolstering both terrorism and transnational criminal networks. In North Africa and the Sahel, groups such as Da’esh and Al-Qaida affiliates seek out areas where State authority is fragile in order to sow fear throughout the continent, and are often connected to separatist groups or weapons traffickers. Calling on the international community to pay more attention to those shifts, he said States should also bolster border security, the exchange of information, and regional and subregional coordination as well as implement global counterterrorism protocols and strategies. Recalling that Morocco was one of the first countries to warn of the dangerous links between terrorism and transnational crime, he called for continued vigilance and more concerted action among States in the Sahel and the Maghreb in particular.
HALIME DIĞDEM BUNER (Turkey), associating herself with the European Union, said terrorists are adapting to new and more sophisticated methods — including through technology — and changing their tactics and modus operandi to new circumstances. Noting that the expansion of area in which terrorists operate is connected to the financing and financial support they receive, with groups becoming more involved in lucrative criminal activities, he said that growing overlap requires greater attention from the international community and a comprehensive, cross-border approach. “The United Nations lies most naturally at the centre of our common efforts on counter-terrorism,” she said, adding that its Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy serves as the backbone of both national and international work in that arena. Underlining the importance of technical assistance, she said Turkey has contributed to capacity-building activities by training officials of other Governments based on their needs and has made financial contributions to UNODC-led programmes. “We should be ready for a long struggle, which will require a wide range of tools,” she said, pointing to her country’s lengthy and painful experience fighting the continued threat of terrorism.
JOÃO PEDRO VALE DE ALMEIDA, European Union, recalled that the addendum to the Madrid Guiding Principles adopted in December 2018 called on all States to continue to conduct research and collect information aimed at enhancing their understanding of the links between terrorism and transnational organized crime. The bloc takes a multidisciplinary, multi-agency approach to those challenges, he said, while fully respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Spotlighting the important roles being played by EUROJUST and EUROPOL, he said the latter annually prepares a “Terrorism situation and trend report” in whose latest edition the interlinkages between money laundering, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and terrorism were spotlighted. European legislation aims to prevent and combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism, he said, declaring: “It is imperative that we cut off the access of criminals to capital by fighting money laundering effectively, to effectively disincentive terrorism and organized crime.” That law was recently amended to increase transparency about who owns companies and trusts; improve the work of Financial Intelligence Units with better access to centralized banks; tackle terrorist financing risks linked to the anonymous use of virtual currencies and pre-paid instruments; and improve the cooperation and exchange of information between anti-money laundering supervisors and the European Central Bank, he said.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), noting that his country is a party to all major international counter-terrorism instruments, proposed rendering the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy legally binding through relevant Security Council resolutions. He went on to state that the third phase of the regional joint action plan to implement the Strategy was launched in Central Asia in 2018, and Kazakhstan, its first donor, allocated 10 per cent of its budget. Also in 2018, the Government launched the “Code of Conduct towards Achieving a World Free of Terrorism”, which counts 80 countries as signatories today. Although no direct link between terrorism and organized crime has been established in Central Asia, States should cooperate with regional organizations given the increasing cultivation of opium in Afghanistan, he said, calling more broadly for efforts to address armed conflict, refugee flows and poverty, all of which foster fertile conditions for radicalism.
LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands), associating herself with the European Union, emphasized that calling for more research is not enough. What is needed is better research through enhanced sharing of information, which requires identifying the right stakeholders from Government, civil society and academia to facilitate their interactions. “It requires developing legislation to stimulate inter-agency and public-private information sharing in line with human rights obligations,” she added, stressing that it is at the local level that the nexus manifests itself most clearly. Dialogue and cooperation help Governments address the drivers of terrorism and organized crime at the local level whereas international cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations is crucial to staying “ahead of the curve” of international terrorism and organized crime, she said, adding: “The United Nations cannot and should not go at it alone.”
MYRIAM OEHRI (Liechtenstein) encouraged further discussion with the Security Council, including on a possible thematic sanctions regime. Her Government, together with the Governments of Australia and the Netherlands, and supported by the United Nations University, has launched a Financial Sector Commission against Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, known as the “Liechtenstein Initiative”. Curtailing the link between international terrorism and organized crime also means addressing corruption in all its forms. The Convention Against Corruption provides a legal basis to address corruption in its many facets. “We cannot underline enough that the achievement of peaceful, just and inclusive societies depends on the successful eradication of corruption,” she stressed.
DINH NHO HUNG (Viet Nam) said the nexus between international terrorism and organized crimes has been acknowledged with concerns by the Security Council in several resolutions, most remarkably resolution 2195 (2014). Member States should strengthen their capacity to secure their borders and investigate and prosecute terrorists and their transnational organized crime partners. It is essential to address poverty, social inequality and discrimination, as well as expedite implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Security Council, the General Assembly and relevant United Nations agencies must further strengthen interagency cooperation in leading the international efforts.
MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt) said his Government is addressing international terrorism and organized crimes, saying that the link between the two is well established in Security Council resolutions. His Government is chairing the African Union this year and intends to share best practices and recommendations on these issues, based on the experience in the Sahel region. Such groups as Boko Haram and ISIL work together for mutual benefit, targeting women and fuelling intercommunal conflict. His Government has provided technical support, including training in the military field, to the countries in the region. Egypt also hosts an anti-terror centre with the aim of enhancing institutional capacity to deal with these menaces in the Sahel countries.
ROBERT MARDINI, (International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said his organization visited more than 1 million persons in places of detention in 2018. Noting that many countries have policies or activities whose aim is to prevent or eradicate violent extremism, he warned that some measures targeting detainees accused or convicted of terrorism-related offenses can have harmful consequences not only for the detainees themselves but also for the wider detained population and society as a whole. Such measures include placing those evaluated as being at risk of radicalization in isolation; grouping them together in special wings under strict regimes; reducing access to services and rehabilitation programmes; or submitting them to frequent or repeated transfers. Highlighting five key safeguards to counter or prevent radicalization, he listed respect for the rule of law and the human treatment of detainees; using individualized risk and needs assessments; ensuring restrictions are legally-based, necessary and proportionate; putting in place high quality, trained, supported and supervised staff; and ensuring good order in detention facilities more broadly. “Inhumane conditions and treatment contradict State obligations and are counterproductive to preventing radicalization and violent extremism,” he stressed.
KIRA CHRISTIANNE DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines) said that the links between international terrorism and organized crime are well established in his country. The Abu Sayyaf Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Maute Group and Ansar al Khalifa — all of which have declared allegiance to Islamic State — fund their operations through criminal activities, mostly drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and arms smuggling, he said. Noting that they operate under the rubric of freedom struggles, “covering themselves with the mantle of victims of human rights-religious-conscience violations”, he pointed out that, during the 2017 siege of Marawi, terrorists used drug money to gather various extremists, criminals, mercenaries and foreign terrorist fighters to take control of that city. Intensive military operations allowed the Government to recapture Marawi in six months — less than the six years it took the West to recapture Raqqa in Syria, he pointed. He said the autonomy granted to Muslim Mindanao is intended to end the decades-long conflict that Abu Sayyaf and local terrorist groups have used as cover for their operations, adding that the Government is amending the Human Security Act to render it more responsive.
ELSADIG ALI SAYED AHMED (Sudan), noting that his country borders seven others, said the national territory is therefore difficult to control and susceptible to the activities of terrorist groups. Emphasizing that counter-terrorism is a top priority for the Government of Sudan, he said it has signed on to all relevant international and regional frameworks in that arena. Sudan has been able to curb both terrorism and transnational organized crime, he said, warning that the links between them now pose even greater danger. In that regard, he called for inexpensive, coordinated approaches — based on international and bilateral support and fully in accordance with international law — to help countries combat organized crime. He went on to underline the importance of development and of establishing a balanced, fair global order to prevent terrorism from taking root.
PATRICIA BENÍTEZ LIMA (Uruguay) said that although terrorism and transnational organized crime groups have not yet managed to establish permanent bases in her country, their local partners handle the distribution of illicit goods in the country. Among other preparations, the Government is working to bolster the police and judicial systems, enhance inter-institutional cooperation and develop a multi-sectoral response, she said. Some new laws seek to address the challenge of money laundering, and others to tackle the devastating impact of psychoactive substances, including cannabis. “We cannot merely undertake action at the national level,” she stressed, pledging that Uruguay will continue its cooperation with other countries in combating the threats of terrorism and organized crime at both the regional and international levels.
HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba) said various Government measures have made his country an unattractive place for terrorists and organized crime groups. Unlike other countries, the link between terrorism and organized crime is not present in Cuba. The Government has signed up to 18 international conventions in those arenas, putting institutional and administrative arrangements in place to punish acts of terrorism and organized crime, he said. Cuba will not allow use of its territory for such acts, he emphasized, pointing out that illicit drugs in transit have been seized in the country and that the Government foiled more than 40 such attempts. The degree of human trafficking is also very low, he said, rejecting Cuba’s inclusion in the report by the United States on trafficking in persons.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said it is essential to tackle both terrorism and organized crime in a coordinated way. “We have no hope of addressing this individually,” she added. These groups are increasingly recruiting from the same pool of largely marginalized, often vulnerable people, she said, noting that prisons are particularly fertile recruiting environments. Multilateral engagement and collaboration are a sine qua non to effectively countering these threats. As a candidate for a Council seat in 2021/2022, Ireland believes terrorism and organized crime pose a threat to collective peace and security and that the Council must play a central role in understanding and combating the links between them, she emphasized.
THILMEEZA HUSSAIN (Maldives) said that her country’s Government enacted the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act in 2015. The Government also ratified the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in 2013 and its Protocol on Human Trafficking in 2016, leading to the elaboration of an anti-human trafficking national plan. More recently, the Government established a new entity to better coordinate anti-trafficking efforts, she said, adding that the National Counter Terrorism Centre provides a common platform to facilitate the sharing of information and intelligence and synchronize inter-agency activities to combat terrorism and violent extremism.
DARJA BAVDAŽ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union, said the blurring of the traditional lines of distinction between terrorism and other forms of serious organized crime calls for a fine-tuning by States of policies intended to prevent and combat them. Such policies should provide maximum security to citizens while ensuring respect for the rule of law and for human rights and democracy, she said, spotlighting regional cooperation as one of the most effective tools available. Upon Slovenia’s proposal, the European Union supported development of the Western Balkan Counter-Terrorism Initiative into the Integrative Internal Security Governance concept, she recalled, saying the latter now aims to strengthen intelligence-led policing, improve regional instruments and strengthen operational cooperation between the European Union and the Western Balkans.
RODRIGO A. CARAZO (Costa Rica) emphasized that States must weed out impunity, protect and promote human rights and extend services to areas in which State authority is weak. “This is the best way to prevent the radicalization of young people,” he said, adding that terrestrial and maritime borders should also be strengthened. While countries bear such primary responsibilities, illicit activities that spread beyond borders call for a collective international response, he said. Outlining Costa Rica’s national counter-terrorism and counter-organized-crime strategies, he said that besides bilateral assistance provided between States, regional organizations should play the main role as patterns of criminality change from one region to another. Latin America — the world’s most violent region — has its own unique characteristics, and the links between terrorism and organized crime there are likely to differ from those in other parts of the world, he said, underlining the need, among other things, for enhanced sharing of critical technologies and information among States, stronger public-private partnerships and full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) said that the extensive military deployment on the country’s borders is part of efforts aimed at ensuring its national security as well as that of all its neighbours. His Government presented a report at an African Union summit in February, outlining terrorist threats and trends in the African continent. The report noted the links between terrorism and transnational organized crime in Africa has grown at an alarming pace. Although driven by different motivations, these two menaces have a common purpose that serves their respective interests, which is to weaken State institutions and reduce their capacity to assume their responsibilities. Terrorist groups in Africa are increasingly involved in criminal activities that include the trade in drugs and psychotropic substances, fire arms trafficking, human trafficking, counterfeiting, smuggling of cultural goods, exploitation of natural resources and minerals, cattle rustling, as well as piracy.
ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama) underlined the need to identify and prevent terrorism from taking root. As a transit country and a bridge between North and South America, Panama is wearily aware of the crimes of smuggling in illicit goods and people and is well aware of its responsibility to tackle organized crime and terrorism head on. The Government has ratified 18 instruments to combat those phenomena, has established a National list on terrorism and its financing and imposes sanctions and freezes as required by Council resolutions. It also has laws preventing assets laundering. The country will not rest on its laurels but will continue to boost its capacity, especially in the protection of its borders and its financial networks. The pace of change in communications and social networks continue to bring progress, but also have ushered in major security challenges. Both public and private actors should work to keep transnational organized crime from impacting communities. Underlining the importance of multilateral efforts — including the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy — she pledged that Panama will to continue to help promote peaceful and inclusive societies that are intolerant of terrorism.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) said that while the Council should continue to play its role in addressing international terrorism, issues related to transnational organized crime must be dealt with only by the General Assembly. Iran is the victim of the activities of both terrorist groups and transnational criminals, and stands at the forefront of efforts to combat both phenomena, he said. In the past four decades, more than 17,000 Iranian citizens, including one President, one Prime Minister and 27 Members of Parliament, among other officials, have been martyred by foreign-backed terrorist groups. The Mojahedin-e Khalq, known as the MKO — responsible for killing at least 12,000 Iranian civilians and many Iraqis and others — continues to receive funds from certain countries in the region while enjoying the support of certain States including in Europe. After being delisted as a terrorist group by the United States, the group’s members now closely cooperate with the United States intelligence community for disruptive and destructive plots and plans against Iran. Iran has helped Iraq and Syria, upon their request, to combat the most dangerous terrorist groups, and it works to combat organized criminal networks which traffic in drugs, arms and cultural properties in the region. Outlining its many successful operations against drug trafficking in particular, he spotlighted the detrimental effects of unilateral sanctions which undermine those efforts.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine), stressing the importance of effective implementation of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols, expressed support for the establishment of a mechanism for the review of implementation of these instruments. Any such mechanism should be transparent, efficient, non-intrusive and impartial, aiming to assist States in their effective implementation. The modern political course of the Russian Federation is to focus on blaming, manipulating and using propaganda, interfering in the internal affairs of States, fuelling international conflicts by supplying weapons, financing terrorism and killing civilians, including medical personnel.
SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria) said the growing convergence between organized crime and terrorism has led to the failure of some States and the weakening of others. Outlining four major developments identified as enablers of that increasing convergence, he cited globalization, the end of the cold war, communications though the Internet and the global war on terror. Noting that Boko Haram targets civilians, public infrastructure, community and religious leaders, markets, places of worship and media houses in Nigeria, he said transnational organized crime increasingly feeds into the so-called terrorist loop in West Africa with its threats of terrorism, trafficking of drugs and weapons, illegal oil bunkering, piracy and human trafficking. The Government’s response includes the adoption of the National Counterterrorism Strategy, the National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and other mechanisms, he said. The Multinational Joint Task Force, formed in cooperation with Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin, also seeks to defeat the Boko Haram insurgency but requires greater international support, he emphasized.
TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said his country’s sensitive geographic location and the unresolved armed conflicts in the region increase trans-border threats, such as international terrorism and related criminal activities. Areas of armed conflict, especially territories under foreign military occupation, often create opportunities for terrorists, organized criminal groups and networks to benefit from exploitation of natural resources, illicit drug trafficking, trafficking in cultural property, money laundering and other crimes. It is important that where terrorists or organized criminal groups are engaged in unlawful commercial activities, including in conflict zones and occupied territories, corporate liability and the individual criminal responsibility function in tandem to ensure prosecution of corporations or their representatives for violations of international law. Although terrorism and organized crime have different motivations and legal regimes, there is a need for further comprehensive examination of evolving links between them.
HELENA DEL CARMEN YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador), recognizing the difficulties Governments face in tackling the complex criminal-terrorist nexus, said action on drug trafficking and corruption is a priority for her country. Organized crime permeates every society, condemning children and young people to bleak futures, while corruption taints individuals and institutions alike. To combat these threats, all sectors must be involved along with citizens and the business community. However, efforts must move beyond reacting to consequences stemming from criminality and must address the root causes. At the global level, States must work together to guarantee border security and improve strategies to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators. To be credible, outcomes must be visible and sustained.
PENNELOPE ALTHEA BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago) said that in the Caribbean, transnational organized crime and its attendant cross-border activities have evolved into a major threat to regional security. Countries grapple with increased criminal activity that has shifted from random acts of criminality to acts carried out in an increasingly organized and professional manner. Noting Trinidad and Tobago’s uniquely diverse society and its commitment to pluralism and multiculturalism, she said the country has improved its legislative framework, deepened collaboration with local and international partners, and it maintains respect for human rights and dignity. The national counter-terrorism strategy was founded on three mutually reinforcing pillars: protect and prevent; pursue; and respond and recover. Meanwhile, she said, significant amendments have been proposed through the anti-terrorism (amendment) bill of 2018, which speaks specifically to the threat posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters and gives special consideration to the situation of women and children.
DAVIT GRIGORYAN (Armenia) expressed support for the Office of Counter-Terrorism in its work to improve visibility, advocacy and resource mobilization for United Nations counter-terrorism efforts. Armenia has made considerable efforts to strengthen its anti-money-laundering regime, having conducted a thorough national risk assessment. “We have significantly improved our legal framework on terrorism and the freezing of terrorist assets,” he said. Armenia has also strengthened the operational access to relevant INTERPOL tools and databases. It also cooperates in counter-terrorism matters with the relevant regional and international organizations. The relocation of foreign terrorist fighters from the Middle East is a serious threat to security. Foreign terrorist fighters returning from conflict zones import their violent practices and disseminate virulent extremist ideas, thus contributing to the radicalization of societies.
SAUD HAMAD GHANEM HAMAD ALSHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said that his country at the local level has strengthened its legal frameworks to combat the financing of terrorism and it has implemented the latest recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force. At the international level, the United Arab Emirates has spared no effort to tackle this phenomenon, co-sponsoring the Council’s first resolution exclusively focused on combating the destruction and illegal trafficking of cultural heritage by terrorist groups in armed conflict. The United Arab Emirates contributed $15 million to an international fund for that purpose. His delegation recommends that the Council’s and the Task Force’s recommendations be promoted and enhanced. The Council should continue promoting a better understanding of the links between international terrorism and organized crime as well as understand the specific contexts of each region.