Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Remarks of the UNODC Executive Director to the 3rd UN-EU Leaders' Dialogue on Counter-Terrorism

  02 December 2020


Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It is an honour to join USG Voronkov and colleagues for the UN-EU leaders’ dialogue on counter-terrorism.

This is the first opportunity I have had to participate in this dialogue since I joined the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in February.

Strengthening UNODC’s support to Member States through enhanced coordination and synergies with UN entities and other partners has been one of my top priorities since I took office.

The strong backing we have received from the EU, including through the UN-EU Framework on Counter-Terrorism, has been an important element in advancing these efforts.

The UN and the EU both understand the cross-border and transnational nature of the terrorist threat. Our collective safety relies on the safety and capacities of others.

Preventing and countering terrorism requires shared intelligence, shared operations and coordinated support, most of all to developing countries, to leave no safe havens for terrorists to exploit.

In this regard, I am pleased that USG Voronkov and I are signing the UNODC-UNOCT joint action plan next Monday, which identifies our respective capacities and establishes concrete parameters for expanding our cooperation.

The plan will build on our successful collaboration to address the management of violent extremist prisoners and prevention of radicalization to violence in prisons; to implement the STRIVE Asia project as well as the UN Countering Terrorist Travel Programme; to develop the Global Framework of UN Support on Syria, Iraq and Third Country National Returnees; and more.

Furthermore, the plan will support our efforts to take forward the joint programme development and implementation that we have pursued in recent months, including to strengthen counter-terrorism responses in Mozambique, and to better protect and assist victims of terrorism.

The EU has provided essential resources for many of these activities. The joint action plan provides a solid basis for continuing and further elaborating our work together, and I look forward to updating you on our progress in the months ahead.

For today’s dialogue, I would like to highlight some of the results UNODC has achieved with the EU’s generous support.

In Nigeria, UNODC has trained and mentored prosecutors, legal advisors, defense counsel and judges since 2013, which has helped lead to 366 convictions and the discharge of 882 cases.

We supported Nigerian federal prosecutors to travel to northeast Nigeria to review case files and work with investigators, facilitating the review of 1,500 case files.

Our Office has, moreover, provided targeted training to investigators and military in the Northeast to deal with the criminal justice challenges of working in a conflict area.

We have also offered customized training modules and train-the-trainer courses on the gender dimensions of investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases, including to address accountability for sexual violence by Boko Haram.

Furthermore, I am grateful for the EU’s support for our joint three-year project with UNCCT/ UNOCT on universalization and effective implementation of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

We have been delivering capacity building for this project via webinars on UNODC’s Counter-Terrorism Learning Platform.

Our project in Sri Lanka and Maldives, implemented together with INTERPOL, is supporting human rights-compliant criminal justice responses to terrorism, and UNODC is helping to tackle specific challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNODC work to address foreign terrorist fighters also benefits from EU funding, including for Phase Two of our project on foreign terrorist fighters in the MENA region.

Despite the restrictions imposed by the global pandemic, implementation is ongoing, including through support to Jordanian, Lebanese and Tunisian counterparts on topics ranging from human-rights compliant interviewing for vulnerable subjects in terrorism investigations to crime scene management.


Dear colleagues,

Our collective support to address counter-terrorism challenges is needed more than ever.

The global pandemic has left our world and our societies poorer, more fragile and more vulnerable to terrorists seeking to recruit and to attack.

Countries need comprehensive assistance, drawing on the strengths of our respective organizations, and operating under a clear coordination framework to avoid overlap and make the most of limited resources.

We at UNODC are committed to doing our part.

Our counter-terrorism technical assistance benefits from our interlinked mandates on drugs, crime and corruption, and from our research and field capacities, as well as our work to promote UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice.

We rely on the EU to help us provide tailored and targeted assistance where it is needed most, and we welcome your guidance and continued support.

I thank you once again for this dialogue and look forward to your feedback.