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Statement by Mrs. Sonali Samarasinghe, Minister, under Agenda Item 118: the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy at the UN General Assembly

Friday, 28 July 2017



Statement by Mrs.Sonali Samarasinghe, Minister

Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York

Agenda Item: 118

The United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy

at the UN General Assembly, United Nations, New York

28 July 2017

Thank you Mr. President,

My delegation welcomes the statements made by the Secretary General and the President of the General Assembly and notes with appreciation the Secretary Generals’ Report A/71/858 titled “Capability of the United Nations system to assist Member States in implementing the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.”

We also welcome the creation of the Office of Counter Terrorism to strengthen the capability of the United Nations system, and to assist Member States in implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in a balanced way. We congratulate Ambassador Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov on his appointment as Under Secretary General of the OCT and we are confident that his Office will strengthen the ‘all of United Nations Approach,’ the 38 entities of the Counter Terrorism  Implementation  Task  Force  has taken to its coordination and coherence mandate.

Sri Lanka looks forward to working closely with the OCT and will make every endeavor to cooperate with the Office in its key functions . We also welcome the focus of the office on  capacity-building assistance to Member States. In this regard, Sri Lanka is fortunate to have hosted three Regional Workshop for Judges, Prosecutors and Police Officers of South Asian Member States on Effectively Countering Terrorism, in 2010, 2016 and 2017 organized by Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate.


Mr. President

Sri Lanka condemns terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations.  When terrorism strikes it is an attack on all of us, and therefore it is incumbent for all of us to show solidarity and unity of purpose in combating this scourge. It is in this context that the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy becomes essential as a rallying call to action. All acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.

Though we have made progress in the implementation of the Counter Terrorism Strategy since 2006, we have encountered many challenges as a result of the changing face of terrorism and violent extremism, not least of all due to the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, financing of terrorism, rapid advancement of technology, porous borders and large movements of humanity due to violence.

International networks with linkages to organized crime are a critical lifeline for violent extremists and terrorists groups. It is therefore imperative for all member states to pool their resources and share intelligence to counter this issue.

We must also give due consideration to the fourth pillar of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, of ensuring human rights and the rule of law is observed in these global efforts to counter terrorism. While terrorists have dehumanized us, the international community should not embrace the lawlessness of the terrorist and must never abandon its common humanity, which is what binds us together and gives us strength in our fight against terror.

At the same time, terrorism and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, cannot, must not and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.

In many parts of the world, violent extremism targets vulnerable and marginalized communities, children, minorities, women and girls. It is therefore imperative, that we proactively include and engage those entities of the United Nations System that deal with Children, Minorities, Women and Girls.

While we must make every effort to prevent refugee and asylum status from being abused for purposes of perpetrating terror, let us not close our borders or our hearts too tightly, that we fail to protect the poor, weak, vulnerable and marginalized among us. We must at all times in this collective fight against terror continue to fulfill our obligations under the UN charter, international law, international human rights law, and humanitarian law.


Mr. President,

We must also recognize that the building blocks for a normative framework in enhancing international cooperation in these areas, are contained in the efforts undertaken by the General Assembly; in particular, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism which has already resulted in fourteen (14) sectorial conventions on the suppression of terrorism being adopted.

Despite the support of most member states, and having been mandated by the General assembly to come up with a comprehensive legal framework, to fill possible gaps in the existing sectoral Conventions on terrorism, it is regrettable that there has been a failure to muster the necessary political will to break the current impasse surrounding the draft comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. (CCIT)

It is pertinent at this time to recall that the conclusion of a CCIT was one of the key components of the 2006 Plan of Action to combat Terrorism.

It is time that all member states mustered the necessary political will to conclude the Comprehensive Convention, so that the international community sends out a strong signal of its collective will to combat terrorism, and contributes to the effective implementation of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.  Sri Lanka welcomes and supports the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy and reaffirms our commitment to its implementation.


Thank you