UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a change in the UN’s structure to help prevent terrorist acts directed or inspired by ISIS, al-Qaida, and other organizations. As a first step, he proposes establishing a new office headed by an Under-Secretary-General that would coordinate and strengthen UN counter-terrorism efforts of the UN General Assembly which are dispersed among dozens of UN entities.
The United States supports the UN Secretary- General’s reform plan and the appointment of an Under-Secretary-General to oversee UN counter-terrorism efforts. Speaking at an informal consultation of the UN General Assembly, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley noted that the new Under-Secretary-General will need to set clear priorities to implement the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. But, she said, there is room for the UN to do still more:
“It can expand the assistance it provides to Member States. It can help states stop the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. It can work with states to build more robust systems to check who is coming across a border.”
Ambassador Haley said the UN can also contribute to stopping terrorist recruitment “by amplifying anti-violent extremist voices in its programs and by partnering with civil society organizations that speak out against violent extremism.”
She highlighted the UN’s work in promoting respect for human rights, including freedom of expression, and the rule of law as an essential component in preventing radicalization to violence.
Ambassador Haley said, however, that defeating the most dangerous terrorist organizations “cannot fully succeed until UN Member States stop their own support of terrorist activity.”
“Proposals on paper will have limited impact as long as there are states that choose to arm, shelter, and finance terrorist organizations.”
Ambassador Haley commended Secretary-General Guterres’ reform proposals and for the seriousness with which he considers the issue, adding, “We have much work to do to rid the world of the threat of terrorism.”