Ambassador Richard Mills
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 9, 2023
Thank you, Madam President. And let me start by thanking Under-Secretary General Voronkov and Acting Executive Director Chen for the combined efforts of various United Nations entities and international organizations that helped prepare the sixteenth report of the Secretary-General of the threat by ISIL and who contributed to this briefing. I also want to thank Ms. Praxl for her informed, thoughtful remarks on gender mainstreaming in our counter-terrorism efforts.
My delegation took three key highlights away from the Secretary-General’s report. First, for us the report highlights that ISIS continues to take advantage of conflict, corruption, and inequality to attract followers and organize its terrorist attacks. The report also, secondly, acknowledges that security responses alone are not sufficient. And for us the report makes clear the international community must strengthen the capacity of vulnerable populations to counter misguided ideologies and reject violent extremism.
The annual stabilization pledge drive of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS is, in my delegation’s view, a particularly important pathway for the international community to fund stabilization programs that can build resilient communities in the liberated areas of Iraq and Syria. Such efforts strengthen the capacity of these communities to reintegrate returnees who will then work to help defeat ISIS.
We also think the Secretary-General in the report accurately characterized the tragic aftermath of the so-called ISIS “caliphate,” which primarily includes the fact that tens of thousands of foreign nationals, women and children mostly, still reside in displaced persons camps.
As we’ve heard from our briefers today, these camps constitute a humanitarian, a human rights, and a security crisis. The repatriation, the rehabilitation, and reintegration, as appropriate, of foreign terrorist fighters and their associated family members is a top priority for the United States and, in our view, is the most durable solution to ensure that ISIS does not re-emerge in northeast Syria.
We are pleased to have seen an increase in repatriations over the past six months. The United States hopes it’s a sign of greater efforts to come. The United States stands ready to help Member States bring their nationals home.
The United States remains particularly concerned about the increasing terrorism threat across Africa. It’s outlined in the Secretary-General’s assessment. We share his concern over increased terrorist violence and confrontations between government forces and non-state armed groups in the Sahel.
So, the United States continues to provide our African partners critical counterterrorism assistance designed to disrupt and help them degrade ISIS and al-Qa’ida affiliates in a manner that is consistent with international law, underscoring that capable law enforcement and broader security service responses are essential to prevent and counter terrorism.
We look forward in March to engaging the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Africa Focus Group on ways to confront and defeat ISIS on the continent.
We share the Secretary-General’s assessment of ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K). That group remains a significant terrorist threat in Central and South Asia. It continues to harbor ambitions to build capabilities to conduct external operations. It is critical that the international community deny safe-haven for ISIS-K, for al-Qa’ida, and its affiliates, in Afghanistan.
Finally, Madam President, we continue to press the Taliban to adhere to its counterterrorism commitments. We are also gravely concerned by the Taliban’s edicts restricting women and girls from working for NGOs and attending school. These edicts are putting millions of innocent Afghans’ lives at risk as Afghanistan endures one of its coldest winters and grapples with emergency levels of food insecurity.
The United States stands with the Afghan people in rejecting these edicts. We stand ready to help forge a united international response that reflects a collective commitment to Afghan women and girls’ rights and safe access to vital aid.
Again, my thanks for this briefing and for the remarks of our briefers. Thank you, Madam President.