Assistant Secretary-General’s statement at high-level conference on counter-terrorism


I wish to express my sincere appreciation and compliments to USG Voronkov and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism for organizing the third High Level Conference.

It is an honour indeed to co-chair this session with Her Excellency Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations.

This morning, we will discuss one of the vital pillars in counter-terrorism-protecting human rights and upholding the rule of law.


To promote the UN Charter’s vision of peace, justice and development, multilateralism and multistakeholder engagement must be grounded in human rights.

A multilateral approach when combatting terrorism that upholds and promotes human rights is not just a choice, but a necessity, to address and find solutions to the complex challenges of our times.

As a core purpose of the United Nations, Member States have committed to engage in international cooperation to achieve universal respect for human rights. This is reflected in Pillar IV of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which emphasizes integration of the rule of law, human rights and gender as cross-cutting elements.

We must accelerate measures to put this commitment into practice. By embracing the principle of the inherent dignity and worth of every individual, we send a powerful message that no one should be subjected to discrimination, oppression, or injustice simply because of who they are.

This year’s 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reflecting our shared agreement that human rights are not negotiable, offers a very timely opportunity to do so.

As part of the High Commissioner’s Human Rights 75 anniversary initiative, a call for pledges for human rights from Member States, civil society and other stakeholders have been launched – the area of counter-terrorism is one where we would greatly welcome your support.

A human rights-based approach to multilateralism encourages prevention rather than response and reaction.

It recognizes the importance of addressing the socio-economic, political, and human rights challenges that contribute to the rise of terrorism. By investing in education, promoting social cohesion, and addressing structural inequalities, we can effectively counter the conditions conducive to terrorism and proactively work towards sustainable solutions.

Setting aside human rights risks alienating communities and exacerbating grievances, which can inadvertently fuel further support for terrorism.

Distinguished colleagues,

Multilateralism requires and thrives on dialogue and inclusive participation. We could better leverage technology and other innovative tools to enhance active engagement that fosters open, safe, and constructive discussions on counterterrorism strategies, challenges and lessons learned.

Inclusivity also requires an enabling environment for civil society and the meaningful participation of civil society organizations and affected communities to ensure a plurality of perspectives, which are essential in developing strategies that take into account their lived experiences.

Continuous improvement in the process should also be part of reinvigorating multilateralism. So regular feedback on the effectiveness of inclusive multilateral practices can help us stay responsive to emerging needs.


To better harness the expertise of the UN human rights mechanism, OHCHR, the Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights and UNOCT are jointly developing a pilot matrix of counter-terrorism related recommendations that we hope will be a useful resource for UN programming.

A recent example that could serve as a model for enhanced collaboration between Security Council-mandated body and United Nations human rights mechanisms is the framework cooperation between office of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) even if they are on other topics. It seeks to facilitate close linkages between conflict-related sexual violence against women and children and the obligations of States Parties to CEDAW and CRC.

Distinguished guests,

Lastly, effective counter-terrorism measures are not only measured by their immediate impact but by their long-term sustainability.

By grounding our approach in human rights principles, we ensure that our efforts remain true to our values, preserve the dignity of all individuals, and contribute to the establishment of a just and peaceful world.

Thank you very much.

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