Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Maria Zabolotskaya at UNSC briefing on threats to international peace and security posed by ISIL

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February 15, 2024


We thank USG Voronkov and Executive Director Gherman for their briefings on the activities of UN bodies under their lead that address terrorist threat. We commend the efforts of the UN Office of Counter Terrorism and the Executive Directorate of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee, and we will keep supporting their work in every way possible. We also followed with interest the remarks by Mr.Stock.

We have carefully studied the assessments contained in the Secretary-General’s report on the threat of ISIL. We share many of them. However, the document could benefit from reflecting a number of essential aspects.

We underscore on a regular basis that we need to address the root causes of terrorist threat and strengthen genuine international cooperation in combating it. This global problem is not going to be eradicated as long as some Western States use terrorists and extremists to overthrow “unwanted regimes”, wage “proxy wars”, or achieve geopolitical goals otherwise.

For example, let’s look at the spread of the terrorist threat from ISIL, al-Qaida, and their affiliates. It clearly indicates that tensions in the Middle East, certain parts of Africa, and Afghanistan persist and grow. That is, in those regions where significant foreign interference in internal affairs (including under the pretext of counter-terrorism operations), has or is taking place. Such disregard for sovereignty invariably leads to the destruction of statehood, rampant crime, terrorism, extremism, and mass deaths of civilians. The game of the collective West that they call a “war on terror” and attempts (of a varying degrees of success) to overthrow “undesirable” leaders have put a deadly permanent stain on those regions, which is clearly traced in the reports of the Secretary-General.

However this is not just a threat. It got quite real causing problems, to which Secretary-General traditionally gives minimal attention in his reports.

For example, the Secretary General noted that when fleeing Afghanistan, the Americans and other NATO states left behind a huge amount of weapons that ended up in the hands of ISIL, Al-Qaida and other terrorists. No one was held accountable for that.

It is worth noting that the experience of Afghanistan did not teach anything to those who supply weapons to Ukraine. We know for a fact that much of it gets stolen and lands in the hands of terrorist groups and transnational criminal organizations in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. This does not add to the stability of the already troubled regions.

The regime in Kiev is a corrupt black hole. Arms that are poured into it serve as a recharge for terrorists, transnational crime and other criminal elements around the globe. Every state accepting the US offer to partake in fueling the fire in Ukraine should remember that this evil will boomerang very quickly. It is especially dangerous and extremely shortsighted when this irresponsible behavior is adopted by countries that have serious problems fulfilling own counterterrorism obligations and addressing outbreaks of crime, such as Ecuador. We realize that the United States promises you “mounts of gold”, but, as life shows, this only mean loss of life, and not only in Ukraine.


When we hear our Western colleagues make their well-known points about the importance of protecting human rights in the implementation of counter-terrorism measures and the need to respect international law, we should not forget about gross violations of human rights by the West during their operations under the pretext of counter-terrorism in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria and also during the long-standing presence of the French military in the Sahel. As for the French role in the region, recently Head of the Niger Military Council spoke about that in detail. He said, among other things, that French intelligence engages actively with local terrorist groups to destabilize the situation in his country.

The sudden concern of the representatives of the collective West for human rights stands in stark contrast to the term “collateral damage”, which they normally use to camouflage the numerous civilian casualties that occurred in indiscriminate bombings of cities and the allegedly targeted attacks on terrorists carried out by the “human rights advocates” themselves.

Or we can recall secret CIA prisons, including those in the European Union, the brutal conditions and torture in prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, which the Western military put on film to brag to friends. And we should not forget that the “special prison” in Guantanamo Bay has not yet been closed. Has anyone been held responsible for this?


Let me raise a few more issues.

Secretary-General’s report notes the allegedly successful efforts of the Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIL (UNITAD) in Iraq. In that regard, we note that when establishing UNITAD, the Security Council designated its main objective as collecting transferring and evidence it to Iraq to hold fair trials, bring terrorists to account, and ensure justice for the victims.

There are still problems with the key component of UNITAD. Evidence has not been handed over to Iraq. Local law enforcement officials have not received anything at all from UNITAD that could be used in criminal proceedings.

Artificial delays in the implementation of UNITAD’s core mandate postpone trials of ISIL fighters for years. As a result, many of them manage to flee Iraq and find refuge in other countries.

The continued non-compliance with the key component of the mandate cannot be justified by alleged imperfection of Iraqi laws. UNITAD has an obligation to hand over evidence to the Iraqis. And it must do so before the end of its mandate, which the Security Council renewed for the last time. UNITAD has less than 9 months to prevent a key part of its mission from ending with nothing, which would mean a failure.


In conclusion, we would like to underscore that we attach great importance to the harm that unilateral coercive measures cause to the capacity of states to combat terrorism. A number of developing countries face this serious challenge on a daily basis.

In this connection, Russia will convene an Arria meeting of UN Security Council member States to discuss the crucial issue of the impact of unilateral coercive measures on the fight against terrorism. This event will take place on February 20, and we invite everyone to take part.

Thank you.

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