Remarks in a UN Third Committee Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

Charles Bentley
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
October 16, 2019


Special Rapporteur Ní Aoláin, thank you for your work. The protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms is complementary to and a necessary component of effective counterterrorism measures. Efforts to counter terrorism that do not respect human rights ultimately breed resentment and violent extremism.

That is why we agree that States that do not adequately develop the Global Counterterrorism Strategy’s 4th pillar – measures to ensure the protection of human rights and the rule of law while combating terrorism – undermine their counterterrorism goals.

The United States strongly supports multilateral efforts to assist states in implementing counterterrorism-related obligations in a way that promotes and protects human rights and gives civil society a meaningful role. The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) is a model in that regard. It provides an informal, a-political, multilateral platform to identify critical civilian counterterrorism needs, mobilize the necessary expertise and resources to support capacity building, and enhance global cooperation.

Since its launch in 2011, the GCTF has held nearly 250 meetings, workshops, and training courses, with the participation of more than 100 non-GCTF member countries and civil society organizations, and connected with over 2000 practitioners. Special Rapporteur Ní Aoláin, your participation on the Civil Society panel of the GCTF’s most recent Coordinating Committee is an example of how the GCTF consistently welcomes civil society inputs.

As the report notes, the GCTF’s good practices documents are non-binding, and meant to highlight methods for addressing emerging terrorism risks. There is no evidence that states have used the good practices documents as legislative drafts, nor have courts used them in judicial deliberations. And rightly so – there would be no legal basis for such use of GCTF good practices.

The United States strongly supports the Financial Action Task Force as the sole body setting global standards for preventing and combatting money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing. All FATF member states should continue working with the private sector and non-profit civil society groups to share and receive information on challenges and terrorist financing threats. This collaboration is imperative for shaping effective global standards to combat terrorist financing.

The United States strongly opposes the practice of some States of falsely citing “counterterrorism” to justify repression of – including lethal force against – ethnic or religious minority groups. Such actions are reprehensible, and run counter to the objectives of the UN Global CT Strategy.

How can we ensure that we are engaging a diverse and broad representation of civil society actors in New York?

How can states most effectively ensure that human rights, the rule of law and engagement with civil society are incorporated into all elements of the UN counter-terrorism architecture, as called for in the UN GCTS?