Remarks at the Adoption of a UN General Assembly Resolution on Combating Terrorism and Other Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
April 2, 2019


Madam Chairperson, ministers, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I’m honored to join you today at the adoption of this resolution on combating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief. We offer our thanks to Turkey for taking the initiative to bring us together for this timely and important discussion.

Before I begin, we offer our condolences to the people and the government of New Zealand in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks on the Muslim community in Christchurch last month. We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this act of hate. As Secretary of State Pompeo said, “no one should have to fear such violence in their place of worship.” Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims and families of the attack.

The mosque attacks in Christchurch were a powerful reminder to all of us that terrorism knows no bounds, holds no one ideology, and that no part of the world is immune from its unacceptable and repugnant expression of hate. Many of us in this room represent nations whose people have been the victims of terrorist attacks. Americans know all too well the pain of such attacks, most recently with the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The Yazidis and Christians victimized by ISIS also know this pain. Opposing this terrorism unites countries around the world.

While we’ve made progress in our fight against terrorism, we must remain vigilant. Together, we must continue to fight terrorism in all its forms wherever it exists. Organized terrorist groups are coordinating and conducting attacks around the world. In this context, keeping people safe from terrorism requires a coordinated whole-of-society strategy that includes defeating violent ideologies, preventing terrorist radicalization, and when possible, rehabilitating those who have been committed to violent extremism. Governments cannot do this alone. Civil society and private sector must also be part of the solution.

The U.S. government is committed to preventing and countering violent extremism. The White House recently released the National Strategy for Counterterrorism, which stresses the importance of public communications and diplomacy to strengthen partnerships in civil society. Creating successful prevention and de-radicalization architecture requires putting in place policies and programs to confront the influence of radical terrorist ideologies. This means building local resilience to ideologies that are discriminatory, exclusionary, and intolerant through inclusive, rights-respecting governance and education that develops critical thinking and respect for the religious and cultural practices of others. In addition, it means promoting credible voices that have the authority and legitimacy to discredit those of terrorists and radicalizers.

This is not easy. We face a complex, diffuse, and formidable global threat, but with partnerships, international cooperation, hard work, and commitment, we can, and we must, achieve sustained victory in our shared fight against terrorism.

I thank you for your attention.