Remarks at a Special Meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Adoption of Resolution 1373 (2001)

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 4, 2021


Thank you, Chair. Thank you, Tunisia and France and CTED, for arranging this important meeting.

Today, we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Security Council coming together and taking action, unanimously, in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Nearly 3,000 lives, from across America and over 90 countries, were lost that day. We honor their memories, today and every day. This is also a moment to honor the courage of those who put themselves in harm’s way to save others, including the heroic first responders and those on Flight 93 who made the ultimate sacrifice to save lives.

Since we adopted Resolutions 1373 and 1368 in the wake of the attacks, we have had many significant successes. We have degraded Al-Qaida severely. And the so-called ISIS “caliphate” no longer controls physical territory in Iraq and Syria. But the terrorist threat has evolved over the past 20 years. It has become more ideologically diverse and more geographically diffuse. Groups like Al-Qaida and ISIS have expanded across Africa and into Southeast Asia. And we all saw how ISIS conducted a deadly terrorist attack against U.S. forces and Afghans at the Kabul airport.

Today, we have heard about the importance of partnerships to counter the next 20 years of terrorist threats. The United States strongly supports the important work being done by regional organizations like NATO, OSCE, and the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and encourages the UN CT Global Compact Entities and Member States to utilize the good practices they are creating.

The Security Council and its Counterterrorism Committee should examine today’s challenges with fresh eyes. This is a moment to build global political will and ensure Member States receive the technical assistance and capacity building they need, and empower them to address the terrorist threats in their own regions in a manner that protects human rights and the rule of law.

The General Assembly unanimously adopted the seventh review of the Global Counterterrorism Strategy this past summer. We call on Members of the Security Council to demonstrate that same unity as we approach the CTED mandate renewal this December. We should commit to investigate and prosecute terrorism and related crimes, including through the use of battlefield evidence, and work to ensure sentences for terrorists are commensurate with the crimes committed. Our responses must also evolve to address emerging threats. And with untenable situations, like the Al-Hol facility in Syria, Member States need to repatriate, prosecute, rehabilitate, and reintegrate, as appropriate, their foreign terrorist fighters and associated family members. And we should remember that trampling freedom of expression and other repressive tactics furthers radicalization to violence. So, arbitrary imprisonment, repression against members of ethnic and religious minority groups, restriction on freedom to travel, denying basic human rights of assembly, speech, and worship, and efforts such as forced sterilization, are not counterterrorism efforts. They are abuses.

We must also be nimble and flexible to respond to new technologies. In May, the United States joined the Christchurch Call, an international partnership among 56 governments and 10 technology companies, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to develop new tools to counter terrorism online. We can develop new solutions to eliminating terrorist content online, while still safeguarding freedom of expression. But as our counterterrorism approaches evolve, we cannot waiver on human rights and free expression. Because ultimately, our steadfast commitment to those rights and freedoms are our most powerful counterterrorism tool of all.

The more we elevate people’s lives – the more we treat people with dignity and respect and honor their rights and freedoms – the more we discourage and even prevent terrorism.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.