«Global Counterterrorism Forum»

Bern, 23.09.2014 - New York, 23.09.2014 - Statement by Mr Didier Burkhalter, President of the Swiss Confederation, at the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) at the General Assembly of the United Nations - Check against delivery

Secretary Kerry,
Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu,
Dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank our host, the United States, for welcoming us back to this prestigious location. I would also like to thank Turkey and the United States for their continued leadership as co-chairs of the GCTF. And I would like to reassure you that Switzerland’s commitment to the GCTF and the fight against terrorism is as strong as ever.

In various parts of the world today we are witnessing large-scale and systematic atrocities committed by groups such as the so-called “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL), Al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Al-Shabab, and the Al-Nusrah Front. These groups negate all universal values of humanity. They aim to achieve their goals through systematic violations of international human rights norms and international humanitarian law.

These groups pose a major threat - for the countries and populations they terrorize directly and for all our societies. They attract a large number of foreign fighters. They inspire others to copy their actions. And they create sanctuaries for other terrorists to perpetrate their crimes around the world.

Switzerland condemns in the strongest possible terms the atrocities committed by ISIL and associated groups. Alleged perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes must be brought to justice.

The recent Human Rights Council resolution mandates the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate violations and abuses of international human rights committed by ISIL and associated groups.

This is a first important step. The international community should, however, consider all options in order for effective and conclusive investigations to be conducted.

Switzerland is also very concerned about the serious humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq caused by these crimes. We are currently scaling up our humanitarian assistance to the victims.

Switzerland’s actions to prevent and counter terrorism are manifold and targeted: I would like to highlight four focus areas:

First, we fully support the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF). The fund was founded as a legal entity two weeks ago. The first meeting of the governing board will take place in November. The secretariat is up and running in offices provided by Switzerland near the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

As of next year, the GCERF is expected to fund community-based projects and initiatives. To prevent the violent radicalization of young men and women in communities at risk, GCERF will focus on education, vocational training, civic engagement, media, and women’s advocacy.

I am delighted to announce today that Switzerland will support the GCERF with 5 Million US-Dollars for the first four years. We encourage all members of the GCTF and other States to join this initiative and to contribute to its success.

Our second and third focus area is the prevention and countering of Kidnapping for Ransom and Foreign Fighters. As the current OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, I have placed counterterrorism high on the agenda for this year.

Last April, an OSCE-wide counterterrorism conference was held in Switzerland to discuss the role of the OSCE in addressing current terrorist challenges such as kidnapping for ransom and foreign fighters, while ensuring legality, transparency and accountability.

During this conference, participating States emphasized the need to deny terrorists and terrorist groups the benefits of ransom and to refrain from making political concessions. This will prevent further kidnappings and avoid financing these groups in these ways.

With regard to the foreign fighters’ phenomenon, we need measures to prevent radicalization as well as security measures. We need to stop persons from travelling to conflict zones with intent to engage in terrorist activities and track those that do. Our measures should be coordinated both at national and international levels. They must be targeted and proportionate. And they must not only prevent atrocities from occurring but also deal with the threat posed by the recruitment of new fighters and radicalized returnees, in order to prevent further terrorist crimes at home and abroad.

Switzerland welcomes the Security Council’s decision to address this threat tomorrow. And we will follow up on the recommendations of the OSCE conference. With the support of OSCE participating States, we aim to deliver the concrete results of our work at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel in December 2014.

Fourth and last, the four new GCTF framework documents , which we will adopt today, are an important milestone in our common endeavors against terrorism. For, they will support UN universal counterterrorism conventions, UN Security Council resolutions, and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. They will be very useful in the fight against ISIL and other terrorist groups. And they eventually reflect the GCTF’s holistic approach to terrorism and its ability to address current counterterrorist challenges.

Thank you.


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