Friday, August 29, 2014

General Assembly 68th Session holds the Fourth Biennial Review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

The General Assembly held its 4th Biennial Review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy on Thursday, 12 June and Friday, 13 June 2014. The review reaffirmed the four pillars of the counter terrorism strategy of the United Nations and focused on Member State experiences with its implementation.

At the start of the debate, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for Member States to take advantage of the session to make the United Nations more relevant in its international efforts to combat terrorism. He referenced his April 2014 report on the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, which illustrated trends in terrorists operations, its direct links with political instability, the upsurge in internet usage by terrorists and increased decentralization of terrorist networks.

Following the Secretary-General’s remarks, over 60 Member State representatives took the floor, with Ambassador Michel Tommo Monthe of Cameron chairing the meeting as the acting President of General Assembly.  Statements focused on global counter-terrorism policies and approaches, as well as effective practices for mitigating ever-changing terrorist threats. Further, representatives highlighted the gaps in the Strategy and areas where it could be improved.

On the second day of the debate, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, delivered a statement in his national capacity.  “Terrorism is a menace that plagues the whole region,” he said. “It is crucial Afghanistan’s neighbors and countries in the region play their role in contributing to peace and security in my country.” Ambassador Tanin highlighted Afghanistan’s efforts aimed at eliminating terrorism in the country, including relevant legal frameworks and initiatives aimed at limiting violent extremism.

At the end of his remarks, the Ambassador emphasized the ongoing threat of terrorism to peace and security in Afghanistan, in the region, and globally. “Afghanistan deplores all acts of terror in any region by any group, and is committed to the eradication of terror at its roots,” he explained. “To this end, we commend the efforts of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and call for its widespread implementation moving forward.”


Ambassador Tanin Chairs Meeting of States on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons


Diplomats gathered at the United Nations Headquarters today for the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, also known as BMS5.  The meeting will run from 16 until 20 June 2014, in accordance with a two-year cycle of meetings on the Programme of Action, adopted in 2001, which provides a framework for activities to counter the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.


Ms. Virginia Gamba, Deputy High Representative of the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs acting in the absence of Ms. Angela Kane, High Representative of the same office, opened the meeting.  She presided over the election of H.E. Ambassador Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, as the meeting’s Chair.  The election followed Ambassador Tanin’s initial endorsement by Member States in 2013 as Chair-designate.


In his opening remarks, Ambassador Tanin described the impact of small arms and light weapons on the lives of men, women and children in his own country, Afghanistan. “After close to three decades of armed conflict, Afghanistan has been one of the main victims of the illicit small arms and light weapons trade,” he said. “During the long conflict in my country, millions of illegal arms and light weapons were imported or trafficked into our territory and have been used to kill and injure hundreds of thousands of Afghans.”


Then, Ambassador Tanin thanked Member States for the trust they bestowed upon him by electing him as Chair of the BMS5, and promised to “work to the best of my abilities to ensure that BMS5 is a success and that the outcome of the meeting would help address the issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in a practical and comprehensive manner.”


During the meeting, diplomats will discuss three main issues relating the Programme of Action’s implementation, including stockpile management, the International Tracing Instrument, and international cooperation and assistance with the goal of agreeing on a final outcome document by the end of the week.  The meeting comes after eight months of preparations, during which Ambassador Tanin presided over several open, informal consultations with Member States.  Over the course of his preparations, Ambassador Tanin oversaw an early agreement on the meeting’s provisional agenda and circulated several iterations of draft outcome documents for consideration ahead of the meeting’s close.


The Chair hopes that Member States come to an agreement on a final outcome document at the end of the week.


Women in Kabul voting for a president in Afghanistan’s second and final round of elections. Photo: UNAMA