Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Open Debate of the UN Security Council on “Threats to International Peace and Security: Terrorism and Cross-Border Crime”

Statement by Karel van Oosterom Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations New York, 19 December 2014

Merci beaucoup, monsieur le Président,

Allow me to express my appreciation for your initiative to organize this important open debate on Terrorism and cross-border crime, with a special focus on the African continent. I align myself with the statement delivered by the European Union and would like to make some additional remarks in my national capacity. 

Global phenomenon needing global response

When it comes to the threats terrorism poses to peace and security, we have been violently awakened this very week by two brutal events.

The violent hostage situation in a coffee shop in Sydney rattled the international community. The incomprehensible and extremely violent attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing many innocent and defenceless children and the brutal terrorist attack in Yemen, have left us in profound shock. The Kingdom of the Netherlands condemns these attacks in the strongest terms. We have immediately conveyed to the Pakistani government our deep sorrow and sympathy for the people of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

These events have reminded us of how acts of terrorism can randomly target innocent civilians everywhere and how they constitute a very real threat to international peace and security all over the world.

We therefore welcome initiatives like this one by Chad to put on the agenda the impact of terrorism in regions falling outside the limelight of newspaper headlines.

These terrorist attacks show that combating terrorism in all parts of the globe is one of the biggest challenges of our time. Terrorsism needs to be addressed globally. All countries shoald make efforts to that effect. In order for these efforts to be truly constructive, we need to remain firmly committed to the universal principles of human rights and international humanitarian law.

We commend the United Nations, and indeed this Council, for addressing the issue of terrorism more and more of late. Recently, the Security Council has taken on an even more active role, by adopting resolutions 2170 and 2178, and by the recent focus during the Australian Presidency of the Council on the threats posed by Foreign Terrorist Fighters.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is deeply committed to combating all forms of terrorism. Together with Morocco, we chair the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s new working group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters.

In the High Level Meeting of the Security Council on Combating Terrorism of last month, we referred to the set of Good Practices on addressing this phenomenon that was recently adopted by that working group as a good example of how the international community can work together to counter terrorist threats.

This week, on the 15th and 16th of December, the inaugural meeting of the Foreign Terrorist Fighters working group was convened in Marrakesh, Morocco to devise a working plan to address this specific aspect. We will keep working together in this forum and with the United Nations to develop inclusive counter terrorist policies which all states can use. We pay tribute to the efforts of the government of Morocco in this field.

The United Nations plays a key role in the international efforts to combat terrorism. In our view, this role is threefold:

Firstly the UN can facilitate cooperation between states, not unlike the exchange of good practices facilitated by the GCTF.

Secondly, the UN can mainstream long term preventive and protective measures across the UN agenda, both in the context of peacekeeping, peacebuilding and conflict prevention, and – importantly- in the context of its development efforts, where root causes of terrorism can be tackled. We therefore wholly support the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.

Thirdly, United Nations Security Council resolution 1373 specifically calls for states to combat terrorism by addressing the financing mechanisms behind it. The UN can severely undermine terrorist groups, their leaders and affiliated persons, by going after their means of finance, notably through an effective use of its sanctions regime.

Links between terrorism and transnational organised crime

The apparently increasing links between terrorist groups and cross border crime, where a broad range of criminal activities functions as important financing mechanism for terrorism, are of grave concern to the international community.

Drug trafficking, natural resource smuggling, forgery, cigarette smuggling, arms trafficking, poaching, money laundering, oil theft, kidnapping for ransom and maritime piracy are all possible financial resources for terrorist groups and therefore merit our undivided attention.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands strives to address these in various ways: among others we are a leading country within the EU anti-piracy efforts, we promote the use of so-called 'clean' commodities not controlled by armed groups and we cooperate in strengthening border controls.

Especially in some regions in Africa, where borders are long and permeable, cross border crime feeds directly into the activities of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, Ansar Dine, Boko Haram, Ansaru and the like. The proliferation of light weapons and small arms resulting from the destabilisation of Libya has strengthened and emboldened these terrorist groups in a very real way, leading to increased terrorist violence in the region. The Kingdom of the Netherlands takes this destabilizing issue most seriously, and is therefore a substantial troop contributing country within the MINUSMA mission.

An added concern is that countries can be affected by terrorism for the mere fact of being a country of transfer for certain criminal activities that are hard to control.

In the GTCF, a special Horn of Africa working group discusses both the regional stability and the specific issues in the Sahel. We would like to take this opportunity to call on states to make use of this working group to focus more on the specific regional dimensions of terrorism in this part of Africa, notably trans-border crime. 

Role of UNODC

If we are to address this complex issue properly and develop coherent policies to put a stop to it, we need more empirical data on the actual linkages between Transnational Organised Crime and terrorism. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is specifically well equipped to do this kind of research, with the UNODC Transnational Organised Crime Analysis for West Africa being a prime example. We also suggest making more intensive use of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime for combating cross-border crime on the African continent.

Transnational Organized Crime has a very adverse and destabilizing impact on the countries in the region, but its negative effects are also felt in Europe as a frequent destination of illegal drug trade and trafficking in persons. The Kingdom of the Netherlands therefore believes it is crucial to forge new partnerships between European and African countries to combat the destabilizing effects of transnational criminal activities – especially when linked to terrorism.

This needs to be done firstly by developing effective criminal justice cooperation and improving border control. Through UNODC, the Netherlands supports afflicted governments in data collection and capacity building for law enforcement agencies.

We also need to address the underlying processes of governance, human security and economic development. This requires robust efforts on both the national, regional and international level.

To that end, my Mission will host an event to address the broader adverse effects of Transnational Organized Crime on the sustainable development of countries affected. This shall take place on Wednesday 21st January 2015. We strongly welcome participation by African states.

In conclusion

Mr. President,

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is your partner for peace, justice and development. We therefore cooperate extensively with multilateral and bilateral partners on both Transnational and Organized Crime and counterterrorism efforts.

We seek to build strategic partnerships for a joint response, promoting peace justice and development, and strongly welcome suggestions by countries in the affected regions for ways of further cooperation, specifically on combating the criminal financing methods behind terrorist groups.