Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament - Special Event: Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism: The Perspective of Victims

  20 August 2020


Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour to join you and the distinguished speakers at this session.

I thank Mr. Buba for sharing his experience with us, and I applaud your devotion and dedication as the founder of the Youth Coalition against Terrorism in Nigeria.

We see more than ever that young activists and social entrepreneurs around the world are leading the way in preventing and countering terrorism, as well as inter-related threats of organized crime and corruption.

We at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime are proud to have such allies, and I am grateful for the opportunity of this session to discuss how we - together with parliamentarians, IPU, OCT and others - can better support victims of terrorism and amplify their voices in the fight against violent extremism.

Parliaments represent the people, and parliamentarians play a central role in hearing and helping victims of terrorism.

IPU has long recognized the importance of this work, going back at least as far as 2002 and the resolution adopted at the 107th conference, which emphasized that “condemnation of terrorism is inseparable from assistance to its victims”.

The need to support and ally with victims of terrorism was further elevated by the General Assembly in 2017 with resolution 72/165, which established the 21st of August as the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism.

Nevertheless, there continues to be a “gap between Member States’ commitments to victims of terrorism and the effective implementation of such commitments at the national level”, as the UN Secretary-General noted in his most recent report on victims of terrorism.

We need to increase efforts to narrow the gap between words and action, first and foremost by ensuring that there is legislation in place to support to victims and that it can be effectively implemented.

To support national parliaments in this regard, UNODC is working with IPU and OCT to develop model legislative provisions by summer of 2021.

Furthermore, parliamentarians are key to ensuring that commitments to victims of terrorism are backed by adequate resources. This includes access to health care, psychosocial support, financial assistance for the families of victims and material help to reconstruct lives and livelihoods.

Parliamentarians can also use their platform to keep the needs and views of victims in the public eye, and to encourage respect for their welfare and rights, while enabling those victims who wish to contribute to efforts to prevent violent extremism.

To salute and support victims of terrorism who choose to serve as messengers of peace, UNODC is launching a new publication tomorrow, on the International Day, outlining strategic approaches to supporting victims of terrorism to tell their stories.

The publication emphasizes the importance of keeping the needs of victims front and centre, and highlights tools and platforms enabling victims to represent their interests, to connect with each other and engage with society at large to contribute to peace.

We will make sure that you all receive this new resource, and I hope it will be of use to you.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a testament to human resilience and courage that so many young people, women and men who have survived terrorist acts have become our most powerful champions for justice.

By sharing their traumatic experiences, they shatter terrorist narratives and justifications for violence. Their stories convey the human cost and destruction caused by terrorist acts.

Solidarity and mutual support are needed to better protect and assist victims of terrorism, and to break the cycle of terror through peace, tolerance and greater inclusion.

Together we can advance our joint efforts towards these important goals. I thank IPU for this session, and we at UNODC look forward to strengthening our work with you.