19 November 2014 – Security Council - Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Let me begin by thanking Australia for its commitment to a subject that is one of the most pressing threats to international peace and security today. This was an issue raised by the State visit just carried out by President Hollande to Australia.
The horrific murders of the young American humanitarian worker Peter Kassig and 18 Syrians remind us once more of the cowardice of Daesh terrorists and of the need to combat them.
More and more regions are being affected by terrorism, with groups and practices that flout every precept of law and humanity now being inflicted on new populations. Daesh constitutes an unprecedented threat to countries in the region but also to the rest of the world. Moreover, the threat has grown thanks to the proliferation of groups like Ansar Al-Sharia in Libya and Boko Haram in Nigeria. In addition, the situation remains fragile in the Sahel. The intervention of France in Mali alongside African forces and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali has significantly reduced the threat of terrorism, but it has not disappeared. Faced with this challenge, it is necessary to redouble our efforts. The responses are many.
The fight against Daesh calls for a military response, which today takes the form of a coalition made up of a growing number of States. Just as it is doing in the Sahel, France is also fully playing its part in Iraq — as was just demonstrated by the destruction by a French air patrol of offensive Daesh positions in the environs of Kirkuk. France is in the process of boosting its aerial component. The action of the coalition in support of Iraqi forces has just served to break the siege of Baiji, including with the participation of Peshmerga forces. We are encouraged by the assessments that the military response has helped offset Daesh’s momentum on territorial expansion.
However, this fight must also be a political one. Military action alone cannot sustainably address terrorism. Daesh in Iraq has thrived on the fragility of a State subject to divisions, mistrust among communities and instability. Prime Minister Al Abadi is now working to create the conditions for a reconciled Iraq that respects the rights of all. We support his efforts. The formation of an inclusive Government, the growing awareness of the concerns of Sunnis, the gradual resolution of disputes with the Kurdistan Regional Government and the normalization of relations with regional partners should be commended and encouraged. Similarly, in Syria, only a political transition at the national level will definitely overcome the scourge of Daesh, whose rise has been promoted and exploited by the regime in Damascus.
Sanctions also help fight against the scourge of terrorism. In Libya, the Sanctions Committee on Al-Qaida has taken up a project to sanction Ansar Al-Sharia-Derna and Ansar Al-Sharia-Benghazi. Those sanctions should make it possible to signal the determination of the international community vis-à-vis terrorists, who cannot be regarded as interlocutors. This is also about encouraging all moderate forces in Libya to come together to present a common front against terrorism In general, we call for a more regular use of the sanctions regime against Al-Qaida so that the sanctions list better reflect the reality of the threat.
This strong response to terrorism can be carried out only in the context of strict respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, which are essential to the effectiveness of our strategy in the short and long terms.
Terrorism is evolving and directly threatens our societies thanks to the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters. Terrorists, including Daesh, rally people — often young people — to their cause. More than 15,000 fanatical individualshave thus joined as parties in the fight Syria and Iraq. Among them are the 376 French nationals, or people living in France. In total, more than 1,000 are involved in jihadist ranks in various ways. The fight against this phenomenon is a priority for France’s internal security.
Last September, at a summit-level meeting, the Security Council adopted a resolution to combat this phenomenon (see S/PV.7272). Since then, France has expanded its national approach. On 4 November, my country adopted new measures in line with the recommendations set out in resolution 2178 (2014), with a view to preventing the exit of French individuals from our territory where there are serious reasons to believe that their movement was for a terrorist purpose. The law also helps fight against radicalization on the Internet, with full respect for the freedom of expression. We are also working to identify pathways that facilitate recruitment.
But we must go further together. Presidential statement S/PRST/2014/23, which we adopted today, notes the need to scrupulously follow up in the fight against foreign terrorist fighters. This illustrates the importance of the international community strengthening its cooperation in respect of civil liberties.
The text also emphasizes the importance of combating trafficking in oil and recalls the obligations of States in the fight against the financing of terrorism. That must be a priority area for all of us. Bahraini authorities organized a meeting on that subject on 9 November, which we welcome.
Beyond those repressive measures, it is necessary that the international community examine the causes of radicalization and combat violent extremism. We must especially rein in terrorist propaganda — and we should call it by its proper name. When it comes to Daesh, for example, it can never be repeated enough: that organization is neither a State nor Islamic. That is why we decided to use the more neutral term “Daesh”.
We welcome the fact that today’s presidential statement urges the United Nations to consider how to better fight against the phenomenon of radicalization. That will be an aspect of a long-term strategy against terrorism, one in which France will remain resolutely committed.