The United Nations global counter-terrorism strategy

(Philippine statement delivered by Ambassador Teddy Locsin Jr. at the United Nations General Assembly Hall, New York, on July 28, 2017).

Mr. President, there are many ways to fight terrorism but only one way to destroy it and that is to do so.

The roots of terrorism cannot be traced seriously to any cause—social and economic inequality, religious and ethnic difference— but only to the fallen nature of man which can corrupt any idea and which has never sunk so low since the Holocaust.

Another thing is clear: There can be no political accommodation with terrorism. We cannot buy safety from terrorism by yielding to any of its demands. We cannot live with terrorism because it will not let us live. Brazilian philosopher Roberto Mangabeira Unger told us in the classroom that the means prefigure the end. Terrorist means can only end up in a reign of terror as we have seen.

It is said that one man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot.  No. The new terrorists have no patria, no country, no cause other than a delight in inflicting torture and death to spread the terror of their name and thereby instil a willing submission to more cruelty.

It is perilous because it can be self-serving to define terrorism. It is as hard to arrive at a common definition of it as it is to define pornography: but we know it when we see it; we know it when we view what terrorists do—to the women and girls they rape and trade or murder after use; to the men and boys whose throats they slit or they burn or drown in cages; to those they fling from rooftops in boyish fun; and to the cities they take and hold until they themselves destroy them or which have to be destroyed to liberate them. In the destruction of cultural artefacts terrorism is the enemy of memory so that those who survive know only the terror of their name.

This is an evil so pure that it must be countered with means that are sure: a global effort against terror on every front by every society even those not yet threatened because they will be.

In May 2017 terrorists pledged to ISIS and backed by foreign fighters proclaimed their control of Marawi, the capital and largest city of Lanao del Sur in Mindanao in the Philippines with a population of 200,000. They had long before entrenched and fortified themselves in the community. We did not see it coming because we are a democracy pledged to diversity. The presence of foreign terrorist fighters spoke to the transnational nature of the takeover.  While the international community is successfully closing doors to these terrorist groups new doors are opening up for them in other parts of the world.

Mr. President, Marawi highlights important points of the Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

It reaffirms that Member States regard terrorism as one of if not the gravest threat to peace and security anywhere in the world.

The fight against terrorism should unite us all.  Foreign terrorist operations do not recognize borders, and the complexity and reach of the threat they pose have expanded. Every civilized society they destroy is a platform for the destruction of another.  To put a stop to them, Member States must work together.  International cooperation must cover the whole range of the counter-terrorism spectrum: from border control to countering the narratives of violent extremism —and always and ever to fighting it.

Finally, the United Nations has assumed a critical leadership role in bringing together in a cohesive whole all the work on counterterrorism by Member States and the UN so as to bring about real results and not more rhetoric. On this note, the Philippines welcomes the creation of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office.

 

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Teddy Locsin Jr.

He is the Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
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