Yury Fedotov

Director-General/Executive Director


Remarks at the Sixth International Meeting of High-Level Representatives in charge of security issues

Ulan-Ude, Russian Federation, 23 June 2015



Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I appreciate this opportunity to participate in the discussion about the importance of international cooperation against the threat of global extremism.

Violent extremism and its links to crime and terrorism are not a 21st Century problem, they have, indeed, existed for a very long time. But today, we confront old enemies dressed in new clothes, with new methods of operations and new relationships that support the delivery of death, suffering and misery.

Fortunately, the international community now recognizes that violent extremism, and its interconnections with other forms of crime, is a toxic mix that threatens global peace and security. 

UN Security Council resolutions 2178, 2195 and 2199, among several others, clearly demonstrate the willingness of the international community to confront this growing challenge, including by  preventing the illicit financial flows, corruption and money-laundering that enable such activities.

In particular, UNSC Resolution 2178 deals with countering violent extremism and foreign terrorist fighters; an issue now high on the international agenda. FTFs represent a deadly threat to their home nations, as well as to transit and destination countries.    

Conflict drives this phenomenon. In Syria and Iraq, thousands of foreign terrorist fighters, from more than 80 countries, have joined ISIL/ Da'esh or Al Nusra Front (ANF).

Both groups have exploited the brutal conflict in Syria, and the sectarian divisions in Iraq, to generate considerable financial support, and to attract a steady flow of young foreign fighters, along with the veterans. 

For national authorities engaged in efforts against terrorist cells, the new terrorism terrain represents an added dimension that has increased both the complexity and the risk to citizens.

We now confront an interlinked mix of terrorist groups, who are supported by young people. These individuals have been radicalized by skilled individuals through direct contact, the Internet and social media.

The terrible threat of the radicalization of individuals who return home to commit further crimes was tragically affirmed by the horrific events in France and elsewhere in recent months.   

To add to these developments, there is also an intensification of the nexus between terrorist groups and transnational organized criminal networks taking place in many parts of the world.

A UN report on this issue will come out later this month and UNODC has provided a substantial contribution to its findings. 

Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, ISIL/ Da'esh, ANF, Al-Qaida, and others, receive a sizeable part of their income from organized crime. Money that is then channeled into new terrorist operations, as well as the recruitment, travel, training and integration of FTFs.

The range of crimes that provide funding to terrorism is incredibly diverse. It includes: arms smuggling, drug trafficking, looting and trafficking in cultural property, smuggling of migrants, kidnapping for ransom, and many other crimes.

To give just two examples, ISIL/ Da'esh are believed to be involved in smuggling the chemical precursors needed for the production of captagon, while the Taliban in Afghanistan are estimated to make as much as 200 million US dollars from the opium trade.

To address these interconnected challenges, we must redouble efforts to sever the links between the criminals and the terrorists.

This includes an enhanced focus on: strengthening national criminal justice capacities to identify and prosecute criminals supporting extremists and terrorists; preventing money laundering; and addressing the ability of terrorists to abuse the internet to radicalize and recruit vulnerable and young people.

As the Secretary-General mentioned in his own statement, he will shortly present to the UN General Assembly a Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism to reinforce cooperation based on agreed principles. UNODC is fully engaged in this work along with other UN partners, including CTITF Office and CTED, and others.    

We are also engaged on a number of other fronts. They include preventing violent extremism in prison. Based on our experience of implementing prison reform projects in Sahel countries, Nigeria, Somalia and elsewhere, we are working to identify risk areas for radicalization in prisons and to provide suitable solutions.

There is also the need to address human rights violations in counterterrorism that might encourage violent extremism, as well as the importance of promoting fundamental freedoms through fair criminal justice processes.

And finally, our work in the area of the victims of terrorism. We are currently working on a technical assistance tool on good practices in supporting victims, and this will be used for technical assistance activities, and as a contribution to shaping future policies.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The issue of terrorism and its links with crime, as well as the need to confront foreign terrorist fighters, is not going to disappear. It is here to stay, and perhaps for a very long time.

With this in mind, a response is required that is both global and comprehensive in scale and scope. At the heart of these efforts is the requirement for cooperation.

There is a need for the international community to stand together against these developments that have the potential to harm every country in every part of the world.

We also need an international legal framework to enhance our action. I, therefore, urge every Member State to both ratify and fully implement, with the support of UNODC, as required, not only the international counter-terrorism instruments, but also the conventions on corruption and transnational organized crime.

 The full implementation of these instruments provides the legal foundation for enhanced cooperation among states. As such, they represent a crucial part of an effective response to violent extremism, terrorism and crime.  

Thank you.