We must fight terrorism and its propaganda of hatred with determination [fr]
Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation: “Enhancing the strategic partnership in the area of countering extremist ideology” - Speech of Ms. Anne Gueguen, First Political Counsellor at the French Permanent Mission to the United Nations - Security Council - 17 November 2016
Allow me to begin by thanking our briefers for their enlightening statements. I also thank Senegal for taking the initiative to convene this meeting with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on a matter of such mutual concern — the fight against violent extremism. That is an issue at the crux of our shared concerns and affects all of our societies, irrespective of their cultural identity or geographical location. That being said, we need to understand the issue and react appropriately, as highlighted by our briefers. Cooperation between the United Nations and OIC is important on all fronts but particularly in terms of the need for pluralism and environmental awareness.
I would like to begin with the positive by highlighting the significant successes seen this year in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. The Monitoring Team of the Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida,and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities indicated in a recent report that the total volume of online propaganda spread by the group has decreased. That represents steps forward that deserve to be highlighted.
Nevertheless, reality forces us to acknowledge that ISIL continues to exercise significant appeal over a number of individuals, particularly young people, in many countries — my own country being no exception. More needs to be done to counter that phenomenon. Terrorist group propaganda, and particularly that of ISIL, seeks to entice future recruits by playing on political, economic and social motivations, as well as psychological ones, which are dangerously powerful. Specialists who have studied the subject have clearly demonstrated that there is no unique profile of a potential recruit nor any simple explanation as to why individuals decide, sometimes incredibly rapidly, to join a terrorist group. The reasons are multiple and complex, combining collective mindsets and individual trajectories, the broad sweep of history, personal experiences and security, geopolitics, justice and mental health issues.
Recruiters attract young people by playing on their feelings of injustice and marginalization. They appeal to their need for money and recognition, promising them an ideal and a cause to defend, when in fact they find nothing but tyranny, brutality and death. They use the fascinating power of images to stun and manipulate their targets’ minds and even, if necessary, known brainwashing techniques to lead their subjects to reject their academic, professional and even familial environments. They are particularly effective in two environments: on the Internet and in prisons. Their ideology of chaos is at the heart of terrorist propaganda and has the dual purpose of spreading terror throughout the majority and recruiting new fighters from a restricted minority.
I would now like to turn to a second broad point. Faced with such a large threat, each and every State and regional organization has a role to play to shatter that large-scale recruitment exercise. Against the current backdrop, strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and OIC is more crucial than ever. Earlier, the Ambassador of Spain offered many, very interesting proposals along those lines, explaining how we might enhance such cooperation, which could help us to better understand the factors that lead to violent radicalization and terrorism, as well as improve our collective action in the fight against the terrorist threat. Naturally, we must — and this is essential — take care so as not to create false conflations. Muslims are by far the principal victims of terrorism.
Our two institutions share common goals. The OIC Programme of Action 2025, adopted at the OOIC Summit in Istanbul in April, and an earlier 10-year action plan called for the strengthening of the role of OIC in matters of conflict prevention, confidence-building, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation in its member States, as well as in conflict situations involving Muslim communities.
The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism provide an excellent framework for cooperation with OIC. As was highlighted by the General Assembly in June, priority must henceforth be given to the implementation of the principal recommendations of the Plan of Action. That responsibility falls, first and foremost, on member States and regional organizations, but the United Nations will be there to assist them in establishing normative frameworks or enhanced operational capacity building activities. The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre can also take on some of the burden of that strengthened cooperation.
Finally, while strengthening cooperation between States and between organizations, we must pursue efforts to counter terrorist propaganda with the help of the private sector, civil society organizations and grassroots actors, all of whom contribute to forging trusting civil societies that are diverse and democratic and can generate employment for their young people.
France is greatly attached to the freedom of thought and speech and recognizes the deep extent to which they are intertwined with the freedom of belief and other fundamental freedoms that pave the way for respect for pluralism and the views of others. Those principles must be the driving force behind our teachings, actions and practices. I fully endorse what Mr. Diagne had to say along those lines regarding the pressing need to increase our understanding and attachment to pluralism.
We must fight terrorism and its propaganda of hatred with unrelenting determination and with the necessary and proportionate means and the full arsenal of the law, while fully respecting fundamental freedoms. Those are the same human rights that the terrorists wish to destroy, as they are the very bedrock of our democracies. France will continue to contribute fully to such endeavours.