Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Threats to International Peace and Security caused by Terrorist Acts

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
August 27, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to Under Secretary-General Voronkov and Executive Director Coninsx for your briefings today.

The latest report from the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIS demonstrates the hard-won progress that we have made over the past several years, culminating in the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria in March.

This accomplishment is a testament to the work of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, which now has 81 members. Coalition military efforts removed scores of ISIS leaders from the battlefield – including ISIS’s so-called ministers of war, information, finance, and oil and gas, and its chief external operations strategist and propagandist.

Mr. President, beyond its military successes, the Global Coalition takes on ISIS in four main non-military lines of effort: through counter-financing, through counter-messaging and public affairs, through the detention and repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters, and through stabilization of areas liberated from ISIS.

The United States recognizes that the international community’s work to defeat ISIS is far from complete, even after the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and the Coalition remains committed to continuing the fight against ISIS.

The Secretary General’s report highlights the large number of ISIS fighters and dependents in displacement camps and detention facilities in northern Syria and Iraq. The United States remains concerned over the concentration of these fighters in otherwise civilian displacement camps and the potential for radicalization to violence where they are present.

The United States encourages Member States to repatriate and prosecute their citizens, as appropriate, in order to bring those responsible for ISIS’s crimes to justice. We also support efforts to protect displaced persons and to help them return to their communities.

The Coalition is committed to preserving the successes we have achieved. To date, Coalition partners have pledged over $1 billion in stabilization programming in Iraq, which is key to securing military gains and stabilizing liberated terrain, in part by addressing drivers of violent extremism.

Mr. President, beyond Iraq and Syria, ISIS affiliates continue to threaten other regions of the globe. The Secretary-General’s report makes it clear that ISIS affiliates pose a serious threat from West Africa to Southeast Asia, and that in some cases these affiliates can serve as a hub for ISIS’s further regional expansion.

For that reason, we are pleased with the 1267 Sanctions Committee’s decision to designate ISIS-Khorasan in May. Beyond highlighting the threat that regional ISIS affiliates pose, this designation allows the 1267 Committee to target regional facilitators who otherwise have no link to the ISIS core. The United States looks forward to working with Members of the Committee to designate more affiliates.

Beyond designations, there been other important advances in recent months. In March, the Security Council adopted resolution 2462, which reinforced and advanced a framework for countering the financing of terrorism. We express appreciation to France for spearheading that important effort.

The designations of ISIS affiliates and the adoption of resolution 2462 are significant developments, but Member States must act on them in order to make them meaningful. The United States urges all Member States to fully implement their 1267 sanctions obligations, resolution 2462, and all of the relevant Security Council counterterrorism resolutions in support of the ultimate defeat of ISIS.

Finally, Mr. President, while today’s briefing focuses on ISIS, we must not overlook the ongoing threat of al-Qa’ida. As we approach the eighteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, al-Qai’da linked groups continue to threaten stability in Syria, the Sahel, and elsewhere. We must work together and employ all of our available tools to ensure that al-Qa’ida does not consolidate power and threaten the United States and our allies and partners.

We have achieved substantial success against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. We cannot relent. The United States will continue to work with our partners to pursue, degrade, and ultimately defeat ISIS and al-Qa’ida.

I thank you, Mr. President.