Statement by H.E Dr S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister of India at UNSC Briefing: Global Counter terrorism Approach: Challenges and Way Forward

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15 December 2022

I now deliver a statement in my capacity as the External Affairs Minister of India.


At the outset, I acknowledge the presence of Hon’ble Ministers of Ireland, UAE, UK, USA, Kenya and Ghana and all high level representatives. I thank you all for accepting my invitation to participate in today’s briefing.

I would also like to thank Ambassador Vladimir Voronkov, the Under-Secretary General for Counter Terrorism and active Executive Director Weixiong Chen for their briefings to the Security Council today. We value the work of the UNOCT in leading the UN efforts to assist Member States by providing them necessary capacity building though its various global programs.

I also thank Nurse Anjali Kulthe, a valiant victim of the 26/11 terror attacks from whom you have heard just now; who has vividly shared with us her recollection of the human cost of terrorism. Her testimony is a stark reminder to the Council and the international community that justice is yet to be delivered to the victims of several terrorist incidents, including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

This Council is well aware that terrorism is an existential threat to international peace and security. It knows no borders, nationality, or race, and is a challenge that the international community must combat collectively.

India faced the horrors of cross border terrorism long before the world took serious note of it. Over the decades, we lost thousands of innocent civilian lives. But we fought terrorism resolutely, bravely and with a zero-tolerance approach. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared: “We consider that even a single attack is one too many and even a single life lost is one too many. So, we will not rest till terrorism is uprooted.”

Today’s briefing is a part of India’s ongoing efforts in the Security Council to re-invigorate the counter-terrorism agenda. And that is overdue because the threat of terrorism has actually become even more serious. We have seen the expansion of Al-Qaida, Da’esh, Boko Haram and Al Shabab and their affiliates. At the other end of the spectrum are ‘lone wolf’ attacks inspired by online radicalization and biases. But somewhere in all of this, we cannot forget that old habits and established networks are still alive, especially in South Asia. The contemporary epicenter of terrorism remains very much active, whatever gloss may be applied to minimize unpleasant realities.

On this occasion, let me therefore highlight four specific challenges with which the counter-terrorism architecture is currently grappling:

One, the issue of terror financing and State culpability, whether by commission or omission. The world may no longer be willing to buy the justifications and cover ups as in the past. Through bitter experience, we know that terror is terror, whatever the explanation. The question now arises as to the responsibilities of the state from whose soil such actions are planned, supported and perpetrated.

Two, ensuring the integrity and accountability of the counter-terror multilateral mechanisms and their working methods. They are on occasion opaque, sometimes driven by agendas and at times even pushed without evidence.

Three, addressing double standards in countering terrorism, leading to concerns of politicization. Uniform criteria are not applied to sanctioning and prosecuting terrorists. It would seem sometimes that the ownership of terrorism is more important than its actual perpetration or its consequences.

And four, countering threats from the misuse of new and emerging technologies by terrorists. This is likely to be the next frontier of our battle.

Let me dilate on each of these aspects briefly.

By now, it is well established where and how terrorist organizations operate, and under what kind of protection. Activities like recruitment, financing and motivation are often done in the open. The days when it could be said that we were unaware are now behind us. Consequently, assigning responsibility is that much easier. The response of the sponsors of terrorism is not to give up but to conduct and execute their agenda at an arms-length. To do this, they create narratives of limitations and difficulties. We buy such explanations at our own peril. The suggestion that states who are apparently capable on everything else but are only helpless when it comes to terrorism is ludicrous. Accountability must therefore be the bedrock of counter-terrorism.

The working methods of relevant mechanisms is also a subject of legitimate concern and debate. At one level, we have seen protections that come close to justification. Then, there are evidence-backed proposals that are put on hold without assigning adequate reason. Conversely, there have even been recourse to anonymity so as to avoid taking ownership of untenable cases.

The third challenge is how do we deal with differential standards, both inside and outside this Council. For too long, some have persisted with the belief that terrorism is just another instrument or stratagem. Those invested in terrorism have used such cynicism to carry on. It is not just plain wrong but could be downright dangerous, even for the very people whose toleration extends this far.

The fourth challenge is the growing potential for the misuse of new and emerging technologies by extremists, radicals, and terrorists. Over the years, they have diversified their funding portfolio and expanded their recruitment toolkit. They exploit the anonymity afforded by new and emerging technologies such as virtual currencies for fundraising and finances. Terrorist groups have also been taking advantage of openness of democratic societies, spreading false narratives, inciting hatred, and radicalizing ideologies.

Taking all these into account, we need to adopt a comprehensive, contemporary, and result-oriented approach to this set of challenges. No individual state should endeavor to seek political gain from terrorism and none of us collectively should ever put up with such calculations. When it comes to tackling terrorism, we must overcome political differences and manifest a zero-tolerance approach.

When we began our current term in the Council last January, I had proposed an 8-point action plan on Counter Terrorism to this very Council. I am glad that some of the action points have found reflection in the Presidential Statement to be adopted by the Council at the end of this meeting.

As the Chair of the Counter Terrorism Committee of the Security Council this year, India has striven to bring these principles into the counter terrorism architecture of the UN and into the debate on terrorism at this Council. We were privileged to host you all in Mumbai and Delhi during the Special Meeting of the Counter Terrorism Committee in end October. The “Delhi Declaration” that was adopted then is a landmark document and with it, we hope that this Council will build on it further.

Let me conclude by emphasizing that we cannot let another “9/11 of New York” or “26/11 of Mumbai” happen again. In the last two decades, terrorism has been significantly countered and its justification de-legitimized. But this remains work in progress. Combating terrorism is a battle in which there is no respite. The world cannot afford attention deficit or tactical compromises. It is most of all for the Security Council to lead the global response in this regard. Today’s briefing is another step in that direction.

I thank you and now resume my duties as Chair.

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