I have the honour to address the Sixth Committee on behalf of the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and my own country Norway.
Terrorism and violent extremism constitute a serious transnational threat. The ideologies of terrorists and violent extremists of all forms and manifestations pose a challenge to our shared values of peace, security, human rights, and the rule of law.
ISIL and al-Qaeda continue to represent the most prominent terrorist threat worldwide. We are gravely concerned by the continued presence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, with a stated aim to target countries in the region and beyond. We condemn the recent attacks by ISIL Khorasan Province and others against the diplomatic community, mosques, and other civilian targets in Afghanistan.
While ISIL is territorially defeated, we cannot lose sight of the threat they continue to pose in Iraq and Syria. At the same time, al-Qaeda and ISIL oversee a growing network of regional affiliates, not least in Africa. The threat is increasingly fragmented, as these groups exploit security, economic, social and governance vacuums as well as local grievances and conflict dynamics to radicalise and recruit.
We are concerned by the threat that violent right-wing extremists continue to pose. There have been several mass casualty right-wing terrorist attacks in the past, and we must remain vigilant to this threat.
Terrorism threatens the national security of states and its citizens as well as international peace and security. Our response must continue to be based on global cooperation, with the United Nations playing a leading role. The respect for human rights, democratic principles, gender, and the rule of law must be at the core of this response.
The Nordic countries attach great importance to the prevention of violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations and are all members of the Group of Friends of Preventing Violent Extremism, co-chaired by Norway and Jordan. The purpose of the group is to raise awareness of the underlying conditions that drive the spread of violent extremism and terrorism. The Group has promoted the integration of PVE across the UN system.
The Nordic countries will continue to support the work of the Secretary General, the UN Office of Counterterrorism and CTED and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact entities in their efforts to coordinate international efforts on countering and preventing terrorism and violent extremism.
We need to maintain the momentum on prevention of terrorism and violent extremism. In this regard, we need to take a whole of society and gender-responsive approach, where local communities, women, and youth play an important role. An inclusive political process helps create peaceful and stable communities, which in turn leads to better prevention of violent extremism.
Although the threat from terrorism is global, effective, and sustainable solutions can often be found at the local level. We applaud civil society actors, community leaders, school teachers, youth representatives, religious leaders, municipality workers and all others acting as our first line of defence against those who instigate hate. In addition, we appreciate the efforts of the Strong Cities Network, Nordic Safe Cities, the Global Community Engagement & Resilience Fund and similar platforms at the local level.
Youth and children are some of our most important assets in the struggle against terrorism and violent extremism. We must listen to the voices of young people, as they are key to preventing radicalisation. We must pay particular attention to how youth perceive their own grievances – they may also hold the solutions to key challenges. We should therefore engage youth in meaningful discussions on how to diminish the influence of violent extremist ideas at a local level as well as online.
The Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy is due to be reviewed next year and, in this context, we stand ready to continue to focus on important matters. Respect for human rights and gender is crucial and should be included as cross-cutting issues in all UN counter-terrorism activities. Further efforts are needed to enhance the coordination and cooperation of counterterrorism and prevention activities between all UN entities. On these activities the UN truly needs to deliver as one.
We would once again like to highlight the importance that the Nordic countries attach to the full respect for international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law while countering terrorism. The Security Council has repeatedly underscored that all counter-terrorism measures taken by Member States must comply with their obligations under international law.
Finally, as this is our first statement in the Sixth committee, and the committee is the primary forum to discuss legal matters, we would once again condemn the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. The Russian aggression constitutes a clear violation of the prohibition of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State incorporated in the UN Charter article 2(4), a peremptory norm of international law which all states are obliged to abide.
We also condemn Russia’s so-called annexation of four regions of Ukraine, allegedly on the basis of the results of “referendums” held in violation of international law. Annexation of these territories has no legitimacy, constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and violates the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Nordic countries call on all Member States of the United Nations to join us in the support of Ukraine’s effort to uphold its sovereignty and restore its territorial integrity, within its internationally recognised borders. It is our obligation under international law to do so.