Explanation of Position on the UN General Assembly Adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

U.S. Mission to the United NationsNew York, New York June 22, 2023 




As the United States said in 2018 and 2021, the Global Counterterrorism Strategy review resolution should guide global efforts to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism, not be yet another vehicle to unjustly criticize Israel at the UN. The United States cannot accept the divisive reference to foreign occupation in preambular paragraph 43 of the resolution that serves to justify terrorist acts, which are categorically unacceptable under any circumstances, and undermine a Member State’s’ exercise of its legitimate right of self-defense. Accordingly, the United States dissociates from consensus on preambular paragraph 43 of the resolution. We must reject all terrorist acts. All forms and manifestations of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable.


We continue to promote increasing humanitarian assistance and access for those in need consistent with both counterterrorism and humanitarian imperatives. This is demonstrated through our championing of UN Security Council resolution 2664, which created a carveout for humanitarian efforts across all UN sanctions regimes. The United States was the first country to implement this groundbreaking reform, which has encouraged the flow of humanitarian assistance to meet the basic human needs of those mostvulnerable in conflict zones around the globe. We endorse the language in paragraph 60 – drawn from UN Security Council resolution 2462, adopted in 2019 – which urges Member States, when designing and applying counterterrorism measures, to take into account the potential effect of those measures on exclusively humanitarian activities, including medical activities, that are carried out by impartial humanitarian actors in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law. However, the United States rejects the efforts by some to read language included in paragraph 109 to mean that all Member States – including non-parties to the relevant armed conflict – have obligations under international humanitarian law any time it applies to ensure that counterterrorism legislation does not impede humanitarian aid, even if terrorists benefit from such aid. Rather, we read paragraph 109 consistent with paragraph 60, which states that all measures undertaken by Member States to counter the financing of terrorism should comply with their obligations under international law, including when their obligations under IHL are applicable. We emphasize that paragraph 109 has no impact upon the binding obligation for Member States to criminalize the financing of terrorism and prohibit their nationals or those within their territories from providing funds or other economic resources directly or indirectly to terrorist organizations or individual terrorists for any purpose, even without a link to a specific terrorist act, regardless of whether such support is meant to further the “terrorist,” “humanitarian,” or any other goals or activities of a terrorist or terrorist organization.


Additionally, the United States also remains deeply concerned about the references to a so-called “Principle to Extradite or Prosecute” in operative paragraphs 26 and 29 of the Strategy review, which is a misstatement of international law. While extradition and prosecution are vital elements of law enforcement response to terrorism, we remind the Assembly that the obligation to “extradite or prosecute” arises under specific multilateral treaties, including international counterterrorism conventions. It is incorrect to suggest that it exists as a freestanding principle of law that applies and has independent meaning outside the specific relevant provisions of those treaties.


In preambular paragraph 23, we note that the right to education is to be progressively realized, as with all economic, social, and cultural rights. In that same paragraph, we read “all feasible measures” to encompass existing obligations under international humanitarian law. This resolution does not expand on the obligations of parties to an armed conflict vis-a-vis schools. In operative paragraph 68, we read the term “nuclear, chemical and biological materials” to include only materials with the potential weapons of mass destruction applications and not – for instance – bona fide medical supplies. We also reiterate that successful counterterrorism and preventing and countering violent extremism efforts must respect human rights, including freedom of expression, and the rule-of-law. As such, we read this resolution in light of our Constitution and international obligations.