Press Release: Ambassador Haley on the UN’s Decision to Exclude Civil Society from Inaugural Counterterrorism Conference

June 27, 2018


The newly created United Nations Office of Counterterrorism (UNOCT) has made the unprecedented and indefensible decision to exclude civil society from some of the most important meetings at the UN’s inaugural High-Level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies (HLC) this week. UNOCT made this decision despite countless interventions over the last four months from the United States and many other Member States demanding that civil society be fully included in the HLC. There is no precedent for excluding civil society from a conference hosted by the UN Secretary-General in the General Assembly, and the United States sees no reason why this conference should be an exception. Counterterrorism in the 21st century requires a holistic approach – one that includes all of civil society, including nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, academia, and grassroots organizations. The UN’s own Global Counterterrorism Strategy, which was renewed yesterday in a General Assembly resolution, stresses the importance of UN engagement with civil society in counterterrorism and prevention of violent extremism efforts.

“It is outrageous that the UN’s new Office of Counterterrorism would choose to make blocking civil society participation its first meaningful act. There is no reasonable explanation for why the UN would seek to censor this conference, except that it caved to political pressure from a handful of nefarious countries with no credibility on countering terrorism – like Russia, Syria, Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela – and for which restricting access and blocking civil society participation is the norm. This decision is an abuse of the UN’s new counterterrorism office and a stain on the UN’s record on transparency and civil society inclusion. As a result, the United States will downgrade our level of representation at the conference,” said Ambassador Haley.