Remarks by Ambassador Robert Wood, Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs, at a UN Security Council Briefing on Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts

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February 15, 2024

Thank you, Madam President, and to Under-Secretary-General Voronkov, Executive Director Gherman, and the Monitoring Team for your preparation of the 18th Secretary-General’s report on the threat of ISIL. Thank you as well to Secretary-General Stock for your briefing.

We remain particularly focused on the increasing terrorism threat across Africa outlined in the Secretary-General’s report. We share his concern over developments in West Africa and the Sahel where the situation is deteriorating and becoming more complex with the prospect of greater instability.

We continue to provide our African partners critical assistance in disrupting and degrading ISIS and al-Qa’ida affiliates in a manner consistent with international law.

We welcome the Integrated Border Stability Mechanism launched by IOM, UNODC, and INTERPOL, which should assist West African governments to strengthen border governance and security cooperation while respecting human rights.

Broadly, CTED’s assessments and reports are a critical tool to guide UN CT Compact Entities’ provision of technical assistance. Strengthening of monitoring and evaluation of projects across the CT Compact will improve the ability to report on impact and results.

We also encourage Member States to play an active role in updating and implementing UN 1267 sanctions to counter ISIS and al-Qa’ida.

Turning to Syria and Iraq, an international coalition is working with local partners to address threats. Attacks on coalition forces, including over 170 attacks in recent months on U.S. forces by Iran-aligned militia groups, directly undermine the international community’s ability to prevent ISIS from reconstituting.

The United States will continue to work with the Iraqi security forces, including Kurdish Peshmerga forces, to build up their capabilities and prevent an ISIS resurgence.

Additionally, repatriation of detained third-country national ISIS fighters and displaced persons in al-Hol and Roj camps in northeast Syria continues to be a top priority for the United States.

Repatriation is the most durable solution to the crisis, and it is necessary to prevent ISIS’ resurgence in the region. The situation in these camps, which have more than 45,000 people, two-thirds of whom are children, constitutes an urgent humanitarian, human rights, and security challenge.

We have seen an increase in repatriations over the past six months, especially by the Government of Iraq, and hope it is a sign of more to come.

Addressing conflict-related sexual violence is another U.S. priority. We value the UN’s work in supporting survivor-centered investigations and justice and accountability for conflict-related sexual violence linked to terrorism, particularly in Iraq and Nigeria.

Further, we welcome UN entities’ designing effective strategies to prevent violent extremism that incorporate context-specific gender perspectives, as noted in the Secretary-General’s report. Addressing the threat posed by ISIS cannot be effectively done if women’s voices and those of marginalized groups are not elevated as part of the process to fight violent extremism.

Turning to Afghanistan, we take note of the Secretary-General’s assessment of ISIS-Khorasan. The Taliban have made efforts to counter ISIS-K, and it is critical they adhere to their counterterrorism commitments.

The Secretary-General’s report rightly recognizes that the fight against terrorism requires efforts beyond security-centered approaches. The international community must continue investing in whole-of-society approaches that respect human rights and the rule of law in order to effectively prevent and counter the spread of ISIS.

Thank you, Madam President.

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