Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Joint Regional High-Level Conference convened by OSCE, UNOCT and Switzerland, in cooperation with the Albanian OSCE Chairmanship on "Foreign Terrorist Fighters - Addressing Current Challenges"

11 February 2020



Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. I thank our partners at the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, the OSCE and Switzerland, as well as the Albanian OSCE Chairmanship, for convening this important high-level conference.

Foreign terrorist fighters pose urgent and expanding challenges to governments everywhere - in the theatre of operations and transit countries, to places of home and return.

We cannot respond to these threats and problems without closer cooperation, bringing together all governments, with the support of international and regional organizations, and in coordination with the private sector, civil society and academia.

Strengthening coordinated, integrated responses to foreign terrorist fighters remains a critical priority of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in our comprehensive support to countries and regions to address drugs, crime, corruption and terrorism. 

The complexities of the foreign terrorist fighter problem, as elaborated in UN Security Council Resolution 2396, are daunting. Some fighters may be ready to disengage, while others seek to recruit or conduct new attacks. As we have seen, many have children and partners who require urgent attention.

At the same time, the international community continues to struggle with repatriation, and we need to encourage more countries to engage with issues of return.

UNODC has been actively supporting Member States to address returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters since the 2014 adoption of Security Council Resolution 2178.

Through our global programmes and network of field offices, UNODC provides technical assistance and legislative expertise to governments in the Middle East and North Africa, South-Eastern Europe and elsewhere to reinforce the legal regime to deal with foreign terrorist fighters; to increase capacities to handle digital evidence and conduct cross-border investigations; and to counter the financing of terrorism, among other challenges.

We also deliver specialized training for frontline officers at airports to effectively identify and interdict travelling foreign terrorist fighters.

As the lead UN entity in supporting Member States to strengthen humane and effective criminal justice systems, UNODC is also helping to prevent radicalization to terrorism in prisons and online, as well as to manage the prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters.

In this regard, I would like to highlight some of the projects UNODC and UNOCT are implementing jointly, including the UN CT Travel programme, Strive-Asia to strengthen resilience against violent extremism, the Inter-Parliamentarian Programme and the nuclear security programme.

UNODC is also working closely with partners across the UN system, including the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, UNDP, UN Women, OHCHR, IOM and many others.

UNOCT, under the leadership of USG Voronkov, has played a very welcome role in coordinating and raising awareness of UN system counter-terrorism efforts.

Building on our experience and expertise addressing interlinked terrorism, crime and corruption challenges, UNODC is proud to play a decisive role, supporting countries to effectively implement criminal justice responses under the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

As the world's largest regional organization promoting comprehensive security in its 57 participating States and with its Partners for Co-operation, the OSCE has been a highly valued ally of UNODC across our mandate areas.

UNODC and the OSCE have been working together to prevent and counter terrorism since 2001, with our first event in Bishkek.

This cooperation has gone from strength to strength, as we can see with our joint side event on "Training Guides on the Investigation and Prosecution of FTFs through Sharing Electronic Evidence", which will be held tomorrow.

This is just my second week as UNODC Executive Director and I very much welcome this immediate opportunity to see our cooperation in action.

It is an incredible advantage to have a partner like the OSCE close to us at UNODC, and I am grateful to have this chance to meet with you and the OSCE participating States.

It also seems appropriate to meet my colleague Under-Secretary-General Voronkov here at the Hofburg, where, as his country's Permanent Representative, he contributed to the work of the OSCE for a number of years.

I am committed to advancing our partnerships as we work towards the second "Counter-Terrorism Week" at the UN at the end of June. And I look forward to working closely with you to develop new ideas for further strengthening our support to countries, to address foreign terrorist fighters and related challenges, to promote peace and enable sustainable development.

Thank you, and I wish you fruitful deliberations over the next two days.