Remarks by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, at the Opening Session of the GCTS Review - 2018 (15th May 2018)

Mr. Chairman

We welcome Jordan and Finland as the co-facilitators for the upcoming review of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy (GCTS).

Pakistan will extend its full support to the co-facilitators for adoption of the Strategy by consensus by the General Assembly.

At the outset let me strongly condemn the recent terrorist attacks in Indonesia, Afghanistan and France as well as the acts of state terrorism in Gaza which has claimed scores of innocent Palestinian lives.

Mr. Chairman

The international geopolitical environment is much more uncertain now than at any point in the past two decades. New risks and threats have emerged to international peace and security, while older and traditional threats have not diminished.

Terrorism is spreading, poverty remains persistent and human rights are being violated with impunity. We are also witnessing human dislocation - refugees and forced migrants - on a scale not witnessed since the end of the Second World War.

While the pillars of world order are being undermined by some, the imperative of international cooperation – to address common challenges including terrorism – is intensifying.

Mr. Chairman

The sixth review of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy provides us with an opportunity to review the evolving terrorism landscape, offer our recommendations to address challenges and threats, and agree on measures to be taken by Member States and UN entities to defeat terrorism.

The United Nations is uniquely positioned to develop international consensus on measures to fight and confront terrorism.

Since the adoption of the fifth global counter terrorism strategy, the Security Council has taken a lead, and adopted various resolutions to deal directly with various thematic issues related to terrorism, such as terrorist financing, foreign terrorist fighters and FTF returnee issues.

This review therefore provides an opportunity to the General Assembly not only to strengthen its resolve to collectively deal with the scourge of terrorism, but to also offer guidance to the UN system on the way forward.

Mr. Chairman

As we embark on our informal deliberations to discuss the review resolution, my delegation would urge Member States to focus on the following four points:

While we fully support the idea of developing counter messaging to address the issue of violent extremism, we believe there is need for a comprehensive international framework to address the question of drivers of violent extremism as well.

Evolving a comprehensive preventive approach is not possible without assessing the root causes that lie behind terrorism and violent extremism.

A strong but erroneous impression is being created with regard to the preventive approach, that terrorism and violent extremism are only the product of lack of good governance, human rights, development and the rule of law at the national level.

Drivers like foreign interference and occupation, protracted conflicts, lack of the rule of law at the international level, political and economic marginalization of migrant communities are key issues that are conspicuous by their absence from this discussion.

Both internal and external factors that drive extremist ideologies in different countries and regions, as well as the role of foreign occupation and prolonged unresolved conflicts that have contributed significantly to the rise of violent extremism, should be part of any comprehensive preventive strategy.

Mr. Chairman

The challenges we face today will continue to evolve in new and unpredictable ways. What we need to ask is whether we, the Member States of the United Nations, are ready to evolve and adapt to meet them?

We have the ability and the wherewithal to meet these challenges. But for that we must discard the old notion of diplomacy as the continuation of war by other means and instead embrace the egalitarian idea of "cooperation by all means".