Remarks by Ambassador Ramses Cleland, Permanent representative of Ghana to the UN, at the UNSC Briefing on a Global Approach to Counter Terrorism

Threats to International Peace and Security caused by Terrorist Acts

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December 15, 2022

Mr. President, Your Excellency the Minister of External Affairs of India,

Ghana is deeply appreciative of India’s choice of the theme for this debate of the Council. I believe this discussion will engender a renewed sense of urgency among States and give added impetus to existing efforts to address the menacing activities of terrorists. We thank Under-Secretary General Vladimir Voronkov and Acting Executive Director Weixiong Chen of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate for setting the stage for what promises to be an open and frank discussion on a matter that must be at the top of the agenda of the Council. We acknowledge the efforts of the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism in assisting Member States to implement the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and encourage the further collaboration of the UNODC with Member States in the face of the rising threat of terrorism.

Terrorism represents the most significant evolution of the threats to international peace and security that this Council is mandated to address. It represents a huge burden on our fragile security architectures as it converges with existing security threats to expose weaknesses in national, regional and global mechanisms to protect our people. And it affects nations, regions and our international community in profound ways, setting back our progress as a civilization.

The urgency to act becomes pressing by the day as the emboldened terrorist now seek to gain access to maritime resources, more endowed territory and highly urbanised and more developed terrain. The nature and gravity of the threat to international peace and security and to international commerce and investments needs no further elaboration. And it strikes at the heart of our efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the attacks compound the developmental challenges facing communities worst affected by terrorism. In order to respond to the daunting challengesterrorism and violent extremism pose, our collective response must match the gravity of the threat to all our countries. In this respect, it is important to note the interconnection between terrorism and transnational crimes such as illicit drug and human trafficking, and illicit financial flows and money laundering. The transnational character of terrorism provides justification for us to be global in our approach and coordinated in our actions. It is in this context that Ghana reaffirms her commitment to the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy and the implementation of all four pillars of the Strategy in the ongoing war against international terrorism. We would continue to work with all Member States in this regard.

Mr. President,

Against that backdrop, I wish to highlight four key points.

First, despite the continuing absence of a definition on terrorism, the international community cannot afford to be disunited in its actions to counter the threat that terrorist groups pose. We believe that to successfully detect, disrupt, and deter terrorist acts, there is a need for a shared view, common understanding and equal commitment to executing the counter-terrorism frameworks, particularly through proactive national initiatives and improved international collaboration. Such a goal requires the Council and the wider international community to adopt

a zero-excuse and zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the treatment of terrorist groups. There should be no differentiation between terrorist groups as differential treatment would only undermine efforts to combat terrorism in a balanced manner. The full force of the laws we have in place must be applied to terrorist organisations in both words and deeds.

Secondly, the terrorism continues to evolve as they increasingly resort to emerging technologies to recruit and expand their network, propagate their vile agenda, acquire weapons, logistical and financial support, and carry out terror, including through the use of drones. We must therefore leverage technology against activities of cyber terrorism and take purposeful measures to narrow the

scope for technology to be used in deploying terrorist acts against innocent civilian populations. Ghana therefore welcomes the adoption of the Delhi Declaration, which can serve as a blueprint to combat terrorism in the domain of new and emerging technologies.

Thirdly, in addressing international terrorism we need to be mindful of proximate causes and underlying drivers. A multi-dimensional approach is therefore useful to balance both the imperatives for hard security dimensions of countering terrorism with the softer tools that are required in addressing underdevelopment and weak governance, which are acknowledged as some of the factors that have worked against responses to terrorism. We cannot also fight terrorism and in the process disregard the rights of the very  same population that have become victims of terrorism. We must therefore ensure that human rights are at the center of our counter terrorism efforts. It is particularly important that we safeguard the rights of women and girls and put in place measures to include them in the fight against terrorism. As they are disproportionately affected by conflict, they hold unique perspectives that may help improve the response to the underlying drivers of terrorism and violent extremism.

Fourthly, terrorist groups engage in illicit trade in natural resources, raise revenue from illegal taxes imposed in territories they control, and use the dark web to raise and move funding. Our aim must be to dry up these sources of funding for their nefarious activities. To do so, countries affected by terrorists and their networks must be adequately supported with the funding needed to undertake operations to monitor the movement of money in and out of their borders and to regain control of the territories controlled by terrorists. Member States in the frontline of terrorism accordingly require greater international solidarity, especially in these difficult times, when three years of multiple crises have diminished the capacity to counter terrorism. We equally encourage enhanced budgetary support for UNOCT and call for sustained funding for the implementation of the Global Counter-terrorism Strategy (GCTS).

Mr. President,

Before concluding, let me share briefly some elements of Ghana’s implementation of the Strategy, with a strong focus on prevention as the primary objective that needs to be pursued in addressing terrorism. Ghana has adopted a whole-of-society approach, by involving the private sector and civil society organizations in addressing the underlying motivations for terrorism while also taking a gender-sensitive approach to combatting terrorism. This is helping to reduce the vulnerability of youth groups to radicalization and recruitment through the opening of further opportunities for them to fulfil their legitimate aspirations. We have also undertaken a wide array of measures for institutional development and to safeguard vulnerable communities, critical national infrastructure, mobility corridors and public places and cyberspace corresponding to the second pillar of the Strategy.

Within the context of the third pillar of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, we continue cooperation with ECOWAS, African Union, and the United Nations and believe in strong partnerships for regional-led counter-insurgency operations as well as cross-regional intelligence-sharing to halt the cross-border collaboration by terrorist groups. In this regard, we urge sustained international support for regional mechanisms such as the Accra Initiative which facilitates intelligence- and information-sharing on questions of terrorism, transnational organized crime, and violent extremism, in relation to the expansionist agenda of terrorist groups from the Sahelian region.

Finally, we believe in the complementary and mutually reinforcing nature of counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights as envisaged by the fourth pillar. In our National Strategy for Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism, special attention has been placed on the protection of human rights, and any measures taken to combat terrorism fully comply with our national constitution which has some of the highest standards of human rights as well as with our obligations under international law, in particular human rights law,

refugee law and international humanitarian law.

Mr. President,

Let me conclude by reiterating Ghana’s commitment to working with all Member States in the efforts to prevent and eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Although much work remains, our determination to overcome our differences is what would ultimately yield the desired outcomes. We therefore look forward to the discussions on the implementation of the CounterTerrorism Strategy next June.

I thank you for your attention.

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