I have the honour to address the Sixth Committee on behalf of the five Nordic countries: Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and my own country, Denmark.
Terrorism and violent extremism constitute significant transnational threats. They jeopardise both the national security of states and the well-being of citizens. To effectively address these threats to international peace and security, cooperation through and with the United Nations is key.
Our collective efforts to eliminate international terrorism should have effective prevention strategies as the point of departure, giving root causes particular consideration. In our fight against terrorism, we are obliged to abide by international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights, and the rule of law. Failing to do so is detrimental to the legitimacy of governments and global institutions and will ultimately undermine our efforts.
We unequivocally reject and condemn all forms of terrorism in the strongest terms. This condemnation extends to violent right-wing extremism, a threat that has impacted the Nordic countries. The occurrence of several mass casualty attacks underscores the need for vigilance in countering this menace.
ISIL and al-Qaeda continue to pose significant threats to global peace and security. Although ISIL has suffered territorial defeats in Syria and Iraq, it remains a considerable security challenge in the region and beyond. While making note of some progress in countering IS Khorasan Province, its longer-term trajectory is a cause for concern in Afghanistan, the neighbourhood, and in the West.
Both al-Qaeda and ISIL have demonstrated a clear strategic interest in Africa, by expanding their network of affiliates in fragile states and capitalising on weak governance, local grievances, poverty, and conflicts. The deteriorating security and governance situation in the Sahel is of particular concern. So too is the risk of spill-over to West-African coastal states. Military rule undermines state legitimacy and represents a significant risk to the effectiveness of prevention and counterterrorism interventions. Russia adds another layer of concern in this region, through its reported interference in political processes, disinformation campaigns, and the disruptive activities conducted by The Wagner Group.
The Nordic countries place great importance on preventing violent extremism. As such, UNDP, in its landmark "Journey to Extremism in Africa" reports offer invaluable insights into the underlying causes and effective preventive measures. The most recent of these presents compelling reasons to prioritize investments in ‘prevention strategies’ rather than disproportionately focusing on security-centred interventions, not least when considering cost-effectiveness.
Children and youth hold key insights into preventing radicalisation. We should engage them in meaningful discussions on how to diminish the influence of violent extremist ideologies, both at the local level as well as online.
The resilience of children against violent extremism must be increased. It is our duty to prevent and respond to violence against children by terrorist and violent extremist groups, including recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. Vulnerable children must be protected, and education must be protected from attacks.
A whole of society approach is essential to sustain our efforts to preventing violent extremism. The past two decades have taught us that governments alone cannot eliminate terrorism. To be effective, interventions must be designed and implemented with the support from, and in a collaboration with, local communities.
We applaud civil society actors, community leaders, schoolteachers, health workers, youth representatives, religious leaders, municipality workers and all others acting as the first line of defence against those who instigate hate. In addition, we appreciate the efforts of the Global Community Engagement & Resilience Fund (GCERF), the Strong Cities Network, and the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN).
The Nordic countries will continue to support the work of the Secretary General, and UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact entities in their efforts to coordinate international efforts on countering and preventing terrorism and violent extremism.
The Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was subject to review earlier this year. We are encouraged by the maintaining of language on respect for international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law. It is imperative that all counter-terrorism measures comply with our obligations under international law. In addition, we maintained strong language on gender, and the rule of law. This is critical for the strategy to remain credible and effective. Further efforts are needed to enhance the coordination and cooperation of interventions, ensuring that all UN entities truly deliver as one.
Finally, as this is our first statement in the Sixth committee, and the committee is the primary forum to discuss legal matters, we reiterate our resolute condemnation of Russia’s unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine. Russia’s brutal 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.
The Nordic countries urge all Member States to stand with us in the support of Ukraine’s endeavour to safeguard its sovereignty and restore its territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
Thank you, m(r/s). Chair.