Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Counterterrorism by Chairs of Subsidiary Bodies of the Security Council

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 3, 2018


Thank you, Mr. President. Let us first congratulate Bolivia on assuming the presidency of the Security Council, and we wish you every success in the month ahead. And thank you to the chairs of the 1267, 1540, and 1373 Committees for the strong cooperation of their Committees and expert groups. We have come a long way at the UN in helping to defeat ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and other terrorist groups.

But, Mr. President, ISIS is evolving, moving away from an overt organization to being a networked covert organization cultivating growing numbers of affiliates around the world. This year, the 1267 Committee designated ISIS facilitators in Southeast Asia and an ISIS leader in the Sahel, among others. Such affiliates can bring the scourge of ISIS to new hotspots. It’s important that the 1267 Committee expeditiously designate ISIS affiliates to prevent them from taking up the mantle of a diminished ISIS core. We welcome the appointment of Daniel Kipfer as the new Ombudsperson for the 1267 Committee and look forward to working with him.

The threat of WMD proliferation is increasingly relevant today. This year has seen the devastating consequences of chemical weapons use by state and non-state actors in Syria and the UK, and last year, we witnessed a horrific murder in Malaysia by VX. We collectively cannot allow the international norm against the use of such dangerous weapons to break down, especially when non-state actors are becoming increasingly virulent and desirous of obtaining WMDs.

The three Committees and other relevant parts of the UN system, including the UN Office of Counterterrorism, must work together more closely to better synchronize their activities and cut down on duplication. Last year, we updated the Counterterrorism Executive Directorate’s mandate to strengthen coordination between the Counterterrorism Committee and the General Assembly counterterrorism bodies on CT issues.

In response, CTED and OCT released a joint report setting out practical steps to ensure the incorporation of CTED’s recommendations and analysis into the work of OCT. This report is a model to improve cooperation and ensure that expert country assessments define UN CT technical assistance. Given the diverse threats we face around the world, ongoing collaboration and information sharing between the Committees’ expert bodies remain integral to minimizing overlap and ensuring accurate threat assessments that lead to action.

The UN Secretariat and many Member States often do not have the localized knowledge necessary for adequately addressing the terrorist threat in all parts of the world. That is why we continue to advocate for a whole-of-society approach, meaning stronger engagement with civil society and non-governmental organizations. Working with both UN and non-UN actors, including NGOs and civil society actors, helps the UN and Member States leverage the full array of expertise and perspectives needed to better identify and address fast-changing and diverse terrorist threats.

Mr. President, our counterterrorism Committees must ensure that our counterterrorism analysis and efforts are not counterproductive to our international commitments to human rights and the rule of law. Enhancing Committee engagement with human rights bodies is a step in the right direction. Thank you.