|UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy|
|Monday, 02 July 2012 17:55|
Statement by Ambassador H. E. Dr. Palitha Kohona
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
Third Review of the Implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy
Friday, 29th June 2012
Allow me to thank the President for his leadership in facilitating the third review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. We thank the Permanent Representative of Canada for his efforts in facilitating the consultations on the draft resolution for the review of the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. My delegation also welcomes the comprehensive report of the Secretary-General on the activities undertaken by the United Nations System to implement the strategy.
The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy since its adoption in 2006 continues to provide a comprehensive and important governing framework for counter-terrorism. The biennial review is an opportunity for us to take stock of the progress made by all the Member States in implementing the Strategy. While we renew our commitment to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation, among states, it is also necessary to continue the coordination and collaboration between the United Nations and regional and national counter-terrorism frameworks.
Despite the concerted efforts by the international community and the Member States to counter terrorism, the menace still continues in different forms and manifestations. The scourge afflicts all of us, the big, the small, the strong and the weak. What is of critical concern is the continuing phenomenon of an ever ready and increasing pool of volunteers for terrorism.
In this context, it is critical to sustain the focus on addressing the conditions conducive to the rise and spread of terrorism. In our view, the current predominant focus on security aspects, while necessary, will not suffice to eliminate terrorism nor its appeal. There is a need therefore, for a more balanced implementation of the four pillars of the Strategy.
Sri Lanka has recently emerged from 27 years of terrorism. In 2009, with the defeat of terrorism, we brought to an end a dark era of 27 years of daily bombings, including endless suicide bombings and shootings and thousands of deaths, mainly of civilians, men, women and children. Thousands of children were recruited as combatants by the terrorists. Today we have peace. The Government has also adopted a policy of restorative justice in order to counter any future drift towards terrorism.
Because of peace breaking out, the economy is booming and tourism is growing exponentially. The government has adopted a policy to address the causes of terrorism which broadly coincides with the sentiments expressed by the President of the General Assembly. Economic marginalization and a lack of opportunity have been recognized as key factors that attracted the young to the ranks of the terrorists. Now large scale funding has been directed to the former conflict affected areas in my country to rebuild schools, hospitals and clinics, rehabilitate the agriculture and fisheries, rebuild the roads, reconnect the electricity and water etc. As a consequence, in the last year, the economy of these areas rebounded by 22% compared with the national growth average of 8.2%.
The Government also recognized that long term incarceration of combatants would be counterproductive. At the end of the conflict in 2009, over 11,700 combatants surrendered to the security forces. The Government having recognized that most of them were victims rather than initiators of the terrorist conflict decided to rehabilitate and send them home consistent with the policy of restorative justice. In doing so, it was also recognized that indefinite incarceration of these former combatants would only encourage greater feelings of anger and bitterness. This was done despite the recovery of buried weapons on a regular basis. Close to 600 child soldiers captured by the security forces have been rehabilitated and returned to their families or extended families. All these persons have been provided the opportunity to continue their education, to gain access to technical training, to gain skills in agriculture and fisheries so that they could return to normal society with life supporting skills. Our approach to healing the wounds reflects our own values. Restoration and rehabilitation rather than punishment is our approach.
Youth were also attracted to terrorism by the glamorization of violence as a means to achieve political goals, and as a means to express themselves. The easy manipulation of the media by the terrorist groups, the charismatic and uncompromising approach of the leadership, the exploitation of youth disenchantment by greedy politicians, and the tolerance and accommodation by certain influential elements in the international arena of the terrorists’ goals were key elements. We need to be continuously conscious of the consequences of the Tigers we nurture.
One of the key concerns of the government is the continuing existence in certain countries of the West of vocal elements of the supporters of the terrorists, who had once funded the terrorist group, its child recruitment and its suicide bombing campaigns. These groups continue to raise the funds and agitate against the government and people of Sri Lanka. The message that this tolerance conveys to other terrorist groups is one of hope.
Sri Lanka is a State Party to key international instruments aimed at countering terrorism. Sri Lanka has also enacted strong legislation to give effect to the international instruments. At the bilateral and regional levels, a number of Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements have been signed. We are a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering and the Egmont Group, and have also ratified the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism in 1988 and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement.
Sri Lanka is a State Party to the seven key human rights treaties and is committed to upholding the core principles and values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of human Rights, international law and international humanitarian law. The Directorate of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law of the Sri Lanka Army, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross, provides training in international humanitarian law and human rights law to service personnel. The National Human Rights Commission is tasked with promoting and protecting human rights. The Commission can inquire into and investigate complaints regarding rights violations to ensure compliance with the fundamental rights provisions of the Constitution.
My delegation supports the efforts to enhance overall coordination and avoid duplication of efforts in countering terrorism. While we welcome the Secretary-General’s proposal to create a United Nations Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, we also hope that such a position will not affect the existing mandates of the United Nations organs and the General Assembly’s role in countering terrorism.
We also believe that the early conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism will further facilitate implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
Sri Lanka remains committed to implementing the Strategy and to supporting international efforts to counter terrorism. We are also ready to contribute to counter-terrorism efforts through sharing of expertise, best practices in delivery of essential services and other lessons learned.
I thank you Mr. Chair.