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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 105 (Suppl.), December 2007





Mr. Francesco CappÈ


Security Governance Counter Terrorism Cluster


Representative at CTITF


It is a great honor for me to have the chance to address this distinguished audience today on behalf of UNICRI.

My goal today is to describe the overall strategy of the United Nations towards combating terrorism and the work of UNICRI in this regard in today’s international context.

The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute is a UN Entity established in 1968. It is governed by an independent board of trustees to carry out analysis and technical co-operation, worldwide, in the fields of crime, terrorism prevention and justice administration.

The Institute strongly emphasizes on technical cooperation and action-oriented analysis. The current priorities are trans-national organized crime, international terrorism prevention, trafficking in human beings, juvenile justice and corruption.

I would like to spend a few minutes explaining the dynamics of UNICRI’s Security Governance/ Counter-Terrorism Unit. UNICRI has an innovative approach to consolidating and promoting security worldwide through the concept of Security Governance. The Security Governance concept is a flexible and interdisciplinary approach that introduces the concept of governance into the security arena. Adoption of this concept will result in an improved performance in the formulation, development and implementation of the Counter-Terrorism strategy, policy and objectives. This will provide a more effective allocation and coordination of resources through the understanding and use of different tools, techniques and dynamics applicable in an international context.

In addition, the UNICRI Security Governance/Counter-Terrorism Unit is active in developing policies and measures to help countries implement the resolutions of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and is part of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, in particular leading the issues of Addressing Radicalization and Extremism that Lead to Terrorism and Protection of Vulnerable Targets.

The emerging threat of terrorism has urged the United Nations to study and adopt new strategies and policies to stop the problem.

Since the events in 11th September 2001, the Security Council has adopted a number of resolutions and created three committees: Resolution 1450 to prevent the proliferation of WMD, Resolution 1267 to monitor Al-Qaida and the Taliban, and the CTC based on the Resolution 1373 to counter terrorism activities.

These committees were created with the view to supplement the United Nations system in the fight against terrorism.

Their work is meeting challenges typical to the Security Council:

First of all, the policy to enforce the Security Council resolutions, by adopting them within the Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, is currently resulting in a lack of enthusiasm from other Member States in the implementation of the mentioned resolutions.

Secondly, Security Council top-level decisions did not facilitate a smooth and fully consolidated harmonization with the ongoing programmes developed by the regional and the international organizations.

For these reasons, these solutions are facing a stagnation period.

A truly multilateral approach to counter terrorism is needed.

In this regard, in 2006, the General Assembly ratified the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy that was adopted by Member States on 8th September 2006. The strategy – in the form of a Resolution and an annexed Plan of Action – is a unique global instrument that will enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism and embraces the need for a multilateral approach to fight terrorism. This is the first time that all Member States have agreed to a common strategic approach to fight terrorism, not only sending a clear message that terrorism is unacceptable in all its forms and manifestations but also resolving to take initial, practical steps individually and collectively to prevent and combat it. These practical steps include a wide array of measures ranging from strengthening state capacity to counter terrorist threats to better coordinating the United Nations System’s activities towards countering terrorism. The adoption of the strategy realizes the commitment made by world leaders at the 2005 September Summit. It is inspired by the elements proposed by the Secretary-General in his May 2006 report, entitled Uniting against Terrorism: Recommendations for a Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

In practical terms, the plan of action of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy identifies four areas for the prevention of terrorism. It emphasizes a multilateral approach based on the mutual agreement of all parties involved in this mission. This approach is a major strength of the UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy as it is based on a common coordinated strategy that will aid to increase the effectiveness of the measures applied to the terrorism threat.

The first set of measures addresses the conditions favorable to the spread of terrorism. This set of actions is intended to solve issues such as prolonged unresolved conflicts, dehumanization of victims of terrorism and the breach of human rights. Ethnic, national and religious discrimination, political exclusion, socio-economic marginalization, and lack of good governance can all lead to the spread of terrorism. While recognizing that none of these conditions can excuse or justify acts of terrorism, the United Nations addresses these issues by strengthening national and international capacities for conflict prevention and mediation as well as promoting a culture of peace and tolerance among different groups.

The second set of actions of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy is concrete measures to combat terrorism. These measures encourage Member States to fully cooperate with each other, denying and prosecuting any action that could facilitate the financing, planning, preparation or perpetration of terrorist acts or provide safe havens.

This set of actions also promotes information sharing and coordination among different types of national and international organizations. This includes the implementation of travel related obligations and the identification of best practices in this area, drawing whenever possible on those developed by technical international organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization. Custom control to combat crimes, such as illicit arm trade, money laundering, and smuggling of nuclear, biological, radiological and potentially deadly materials that might be connected with terrorism, is highlighted within this set of actions.

The second set of measures also concentrates on the protection of vulnerable targets like infrastructures and public places, as well as the responses to terrorist attacks. In protecting vulnerable targets it is necessary to concentrate on civil protection, while recognizing the need for assistance to Member States.

The third set of measures of the UN Strategy addresses the issue of building States’ capacities to prevent and combat terrorism while strengthening the role of the United Nations in this regard.

These measures are essential to the effectiveness of the strategy and fall into the multilateral approach to fight terrorism. Technically, Member States are encouraged to make voluntary contributions to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism effort by providing technical assistance and involving the private sector, while taking advantage of the tools at disposal. It also encourages arranging meetings and helping the United Nations in disseminating the Strategy through the institutionalization of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force.

The fourth set of measures, proposed by the UN strategy on Counter-Terrorism, ensures the respect of human rights and rule of law in the fight against terrorism. In specific terms this means the adherence of Member States to human rights and refugee laws and international humanitarian laws, as well as the development and the maintenance of an effective rule of law.

Next, I would like to give you a brief explanation on the creation and the work of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force. The Task Force is a body with a flexible structure created in an attempt to coordinate efforts across the UN System to counter terrorism through a specific and coherent set of actions. The Secretary-General created the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) in July 2005, which was institutionalized by the General Assembly Strategy to Counter Terrorism in September 2006. In its planning and coordinating work the Task Force goes beyond the wider UN System also to embrace other entities, such as the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the World Customs Organization (WCO). The global counter-terrorism strategy gives support to the practical work done by the Task Force and welcomes the Secretary-General’s intention to institutionalize it.

The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force draws its effectiveness and flexibility from two essential and innovative concepts. First, the multilateral approach on fighting terrorism. The Task Force was created with the prospect of institutionalizing and harmonizing Member States’ efforts to fight terrorism through the United Nations System and with an international perspective.

The second important concept is that the Task Force “will not reinvent the wheel”, meaning that it will not duplicate information or actions on counter-terrorism. Instead it will base its efforts on methodologies, best practices and ongoing programs already developed, by gathering and enhancing them.

In addition, the CTITF has a light structure, as it is composed of twenty-four United Nations offices, agencies and international organizations that work together in different fields to prevent and combat terrorism in all its forms. In the short run, the absence of a body within the Task Force has allowed it a greater flexibility and teamwork, increasing its effectiveness not only in decision-making but also in developing concrete techniques to prevent and combat terrorism.

The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force counts nine working groups. Each working group is concentrated on one subject, whose relevance is essential to the implementation of the UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy. After the March 2007 CTITF Retreat, held in the UNICRI headquarters, the Task Force confirmed to focus on the following subjects:

  • Firstly, Facilitating the Integrated Implementation: by developing a practical methodology to assist interested States in the integrated implementation of the strategy.
  • Secondly, Preventing and Resolving Conflicts: by drafting guidelines to international peace-makers which would factor aspects of counter terrorism.
  • The third issue deals with “Addressing Radicalization and Recruitment”: by investigating the source of radicalization and recruitment to terrorism, particularly among young people.
  • Furthermore, Preventing and Responding to Weapons of Mass Destruction Attacks: by improving the coordination of the UN in planning a response to a terrorist attack where CBRN weapons are used, while increasing awareness among national authorities.
  • Other points discussed were: Countering the Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes: (Identify and gather stakeholders and partners to discuss the abuse of the Internet, in particular for radicalization purposes)
  • Tackling the Financing of Terrorism (by identifying success and challenges faced by States in this area)
  • Enhancing Technical Assistance
  • Protecting Vulnerable Targets (Establish best practices in this field. Considering transportation means, airports, and subway stations focusing also on private-public partnership)
  • And finally, Protecting Human Rights (support the efforts for the protection of human rights in the context of counter-terrorism)

In the future, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force is expected to have an essential role in the fight against terrorism. The revision of the CTITF strategy in September 2008 is expected to help towards engaging Member States in the strategy on counter-terrorism.

However, political support is necessary to increase CTITF capabilities to technically assist Member States and regions in order to provide them with tailored solutions to specific terrorism issues in all the stages of the strategy application. Concretely, this means to support the strengthening of the CTITF organization’s structure. So far the CTITF configuration has allowed reaching higher flexibility and effectiveness, whereas, in the medium to long term, it is my opinion that the Task Force will need a supporting structure to play the essential role of institutionalizing its integrated global approach on counter-terrorism.

The United Nations System and the CTITF need support in order to effectively continue their efforts in the field of terrorism control and prevention. Political support is essential in reinforcing the multilateral approach on counter terrorism and at the same time further enhancing certain fields, like travel related counter terrorism activities, and reinforcing the measures adopted by the United Nations conventions on aircraft security, in particular the 1970 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft .

It gives me great pleasure to conclude by thanking you for your presence here today. This is a significant event in creating awareness of the effort of the United Nations to combat terrorism. I hope that this brief explanation on the work of the United Nations contributed in increasing support for the global spread of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The Strategy is the opportunity that we do not want to miss.