Remarks at a UN Security Council High-Level Debate on Countering Terrorism by Strengthening Cooperation Between the UN and Regional Organizations

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield delivers remarks at UNSC Debate on Countering Terrorism and Preventing Violent Extremism

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 28, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President.

Colleagues, I want to thank Mozambique and, particularly, President Nyusi for convening this high-level debate on strengthening counterterrorism efforts in Africa. Thank you, Secretary-General Guterres and Assoumani, Chairperson of the African Union, for your briefings today, as well. And I want to welcome all of our high-level visitors who are present with us today.

President Nyusi, I was grateful for the warm welcome I received during my visit to Maputo in January. And in my meeting with Foreign Minister Macamo, we had a chance to discuss a host of shared priorities, including regional security, climate change, Women, Peace, and Security issues, as well as terrorism. I also had the chance to meet with students, and women entrepreneurs, and environmental activists. Their limitless potential was very inspiring. And the work that they are doing is so important because, after all, we know that change comes from engaging citizens.

We also know that our partnership with civil society leaders will help us meet the complex challenges we face. And right now, we face a host of challenges, especially when it comes to the dramatic rise in terrorism in Africa.

We condemn all acts of terrorism and are committed to fighting and supporting efforts to defeat terrorists wherever they are. Today, I want to outline the United States’ commitment to countering this grave threat and discuss the critical role that the United Nations and respect for human rights plays in this fight.

On the first day of the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in December, Secretary of State Blinken co-chaired the Peace, Security, and Governance Forum. At the Forum, the Presidents of Niger, Somalia, and Mozambique discussed how good governance, peacebuilding, international partnerships, and inclusive development support peace and security.

Our commitment to peace and security across Africa is unwavering. The United States has provided nearly $8 billion in security sector assistance since fiscal year 2019. And last Friday, President Biden transmitted to the United States Congress a 10-year plan for implementing the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, including in partnership with Mozambique. Other partners in Africa include Libya and Coastal West African countries – Ghana, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Togo.

These plans represent our commitment to a whole-of-government approach to peacebuilding and supporting our partners’ progress toward a more peaceful future. As we work toward that peaceful future, I want to stress the importance of incorporating the views of civil society, women, youth, victims of terrorism, community leaders, activists, and the private sector. Taking a whole-of-society approach is the most productive and sustainable way to counter terrorism and violent extremism.

Today, I want to also acknowledge African-led security efforts and pay tribute to the sacrifices AU personnel have made in support of peace and security on the continent. One example, of course, that we’ve heard about today is the Southern African Development Community’s Mission in Mozambique, which has helped make security gains and improved access for humanitarian assistance – exhibiting how African leadership for African problems can lead to solutions.

We are proud to provide essential support to regional initiatives across Africa and to troop- and police-contributing countries. And we remain committed to exploring ways to further support AU peace operations, and look forward to engaging constructively in the upcoming discussions on the Secretary-General’s report on the next steps to implement Security Council Resolutions 2320 and 2378.

As the eighth review of the Global Counterterrorism Strategy is underway in the General Assembly, we call for unity in purpose. Colleagues, as the Council has reaffirmed in many resolutions, the promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law are essential components of countering terrorism. Effective counterterrorism measures and the protection of human rights are not conflicting goals, but complementary and mutually enforcing.

When Member States use counterterrorism as a pretext to silence political dissent or interfere with the activities of civil society, they only promote radicalization to violence. And let’s be clear: The human rights abuses committed by private paramilitary organizations on the continent stoke grievances that enable terrorist recruitment and activities. And we know that actors, like the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group, undermine peace. Plain and simple.

In closing, the United States calls on the Council to use all the tools at its disposal to advance peace and security and fight terrorism in Africa and internationally. Let us unlock the full potential of the UN and of the African continent as we work to build a more peaceful and secure future for all.

Thank you, Mr. President.