There are overlaps between criminal and terrorist groups [fr]
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United nations
Security Council - 9 July 2019
First, I would like to congratulate Kuwait and its delegation for their presidency of the Security Council in June. I wish you every success, Mr. President, during your country’s presidency in July. I would also like to thank the Ambassador of China for his outstanding contribution to the Council’s work in recent months and years. Lastly, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, and colleagues for welcoming me to the Council. I should like to thank Peru for convening today’s open debate. I also thank our briefers — Yury Fedotov, Michèle Coninsx and Tamara Makarenko — for their briefings. France aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the observer of the European Union. Since last year’s Arria Formula meeting, we have had several opportunities to hear various regional perspectives and to share experiences and good practices in this area, which France welcomes.
I will therefore limit myself to making two observations today.
1/ The first is the undeniable overlap between criminal and terrorist groups, the nature and scope of which vary from one region of the world to another.
In Europe, very few cases of verified cooperation between transnational criminal networks and terrorist groups have been reported in recent years. However, the attacks in Paris in November 2015 and Brussels in March 2016 demonstrated the existence of links between terrorism and, in particular, petty crime, as the Permanent Representative of Belgium just said.
Elsewhere in the world, especially in the Sahel and Afghanistan — that is to say in regions in which the State’s authority is challenged by terrorist and criminal groups responsible for sustaining high levels of violence — links can be stronger and lead to more active cooperation and, at times, even to hybrid phenomena whereby terrorism and organized crime are merged into a single security threat. In that regard, groups such as Al-Qaida and Da’esh often recruit from the same populations and encourage their supporters to commit crimes to finance their own activities. Criminal and terrorist groups frequently use similar means of communication to carry out their activities, in particular by using the Internet to access the Dark Web.
We must therefore remain focused on the evolution of the threat in order to adapt our response as effectively as possible. Recent reports, including the World Atlas of Illicit Flows, published in September 2018, have shown accordingly that environmental crime, in the broad sense of the term, has become the primary source of funding for certain non-State armed groups and terrorist organizations. We must take that development into account, as has been done by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
2/ That brings me to my second observation, which concerns the response to be provided at the national, regional and international levels.
In that regard, France is fully committed to combating terrorism in all its forms, as well as the fight against organized crime. As an example, France is leading and supporting several initiatives, including, in particular, its effort together with Germany to combat trafficking in small arms and light weapons in the Western Balkans, given that such illicit trafficking is responsible for sustaining high levels of violence and corruption and can facilitate the commission of terrorist acts by individuals in Europe and elsewhere. As President of the Group of Seven, France has also launched a multipartite initiative to combat trafficking in drugs, small arms and light weapons, human trafficking and the illegal trafficking of migrants in the Sahel, which fuel instability and corruption, endanger the rule of law and peace efforts, provide fertile ground for terrorist organizations and contribute to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation. The initiative is aimed at providing the technical assistance to the countries of the Sahel region that they require.
Moreover, the multidimensional nature of the fight against terrorism and the types of trafficking potentially capable of fuelling it also demands an integrated regional response, linking development and security and taking intraregional dynamics into account. The support of subregional and regional organizations, such as the Group of Five for the Sahel and the European Union — to name but two — is crucial to developing an effective regional response to such phenomena, which know no borders.
In conclusion, the United Nations has a unique role to play in improving our understanding of the links between terrorism and organized crime so as to encourage international cooperation and build the capacity of States that request it. Resolution 2462 (2019), adopted in March, clearly identifies the risks posed by the links between terrorist financing and organized crime in various regions of the world and calls on States, in close cooperation with relevant regional organizations and the United Nations, to redouble their efforts to address them. We must ensure that it is fully implemented. France will continue to support all initiatives enabling us to move forward in this area, in particular with regard to the draft resolution proposed by the Peruvian presidency.