Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Second UN High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism, Demands of a New Decade and Strengthening a Criminal Justice Response to Countering Terrorism 

  30 June 2021


Delivered by Chief, Terrorism Prevention Branch, Division for Treaty Affairs


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to join you as we sum up the rich ideas of this High-Level Conference to advance our common fight against terrorism.

The perspectives and experience shared at this event emphasize the need for whole-of-society approaches to address the drivers and enablers of terrorism; for sustainable, inclusive responses involving civil society, youth, and women and girls; and for stronger international cooperation, to better protect people and to bring terrorists to justice.

I would like to highlight some of the cross-cutting issues which emerged from yesterday’s discussion with counter-terrorism leaders from Indonesia, the Netherlands and Switzerland, as well as NGO and academia representatives, on strengthening criminal justice responses to meet the demands of a new decade.

The first of these cross-cutting issues is the nexus between terrorism and transnational organized crime, as recognized by Security Council resolution 2482.

This nexus includes the funding of terrorism with the proceeds of criminal activities such as illicit trafficking of drugs, arms, natural resources, and cultural heritage, as well as trafficking in persons, and kidnapping for ransom.

Adequate laws, specialized expertise and integrated responses are required to dismantle the networks of collusion between terrorism and criminal enterprises.

At the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, we support Member States’ criminal justice institutions in building comprehensive approaches, drawing on our interlinked mandates tackling organized crime, drugs, corruption, and terrorism, and our expertise in supporting the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders.

Such integrated approaches are at the core of our new corporate strategy for the period 2021-2025, and our Strategic Vision for Africa 2030, which guides our support to countries in the continent.

The second main topic is the urgent need to counter terrorism in the digital sphere.

To be effective in the digital age, criminal justice institutions must be able to access, utilize and share electronic evidence to investigate and prosecute terrorism-related offenses.

As terrorists increasingly raise and move funds through the digital world and misuse new funding instruments to bankroll their activities, support is also needed to help criminal justice authorities use new technologies to disrupt financing for terrorism.

UNODC works to empower practitioners in leveraging electronic evidence and cooperating across borders, while safeguarding rights and privacy.

Through the UN Global Initiative on Handling Electronic Evidence, launched together with CTED and the International Association of Prosecutors, we have been promoting public-private partnerships between criminal justice authorities and communications service providers.

We have also developed practical tools and resources, including a dedicated Electronic Evidence Hub on our online SHERLOC portal.

The third overarching issue is the need to step up targeted gender-and age-responsive approaches.

Women and youth can be victims and perpetrators of terrorist acts, and they also have an important role to play in preventing and countering terrorism.

To help countries leverage this potential and tailor solutions, over the last five years UNODC has trained more than 600 policy makers and criminal justice practitioners in 25 countries on the gender dimensions of criminal justice responses to terrorism.

Promoting the role and leadership of women criminal justice professionals in counter-terrorism efforts has been a key element of our work.

We have been supporting and empowering networks of women prosecutors and judges in Nigeria and in Iraq, where we recently conducted a first-of-its kind study on women in the criminal justice system, due to be published this summer.

UNODC is also supporting Member States in addressing the association of children and youth with terrorist and violent extremist groups, and piloting a roadmap focused on rights-based justice responses.

The fourth and final cross-cutting topic is the need for a stronger framework to support the victims of terrorism.

In this area, I am very proud to say that later this year, we will be launching model legislative provisions on victims of terrorism drafted with IPU and OCT.

We have been developing the provisions through an inclusive process, engaging with stakeholders in some 80 countries, including parliamentarians, criminal justice practitioners, representatives of victims’ associations, and victims themselves.

The provisions are guided by a victim-centred approach and include a focus on victims’ access to justice and compensation, as well as the protection of their privacy and dignity at every stage of criminal justice proceedings.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The newly-adopted General Assembly resolution on the 7th Review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy calls for elevating support to countries so they can strengthen the capacities of their relevant agencies, and ensure that the needs and roles of women, children and victims of terrorism are taken into account throughout the criminal justice process.

As the world emerges from the pandemic poorer and more vulnerable to terrorist threats, we need solidarity and stronger partnerships to build more inclusive, fair, people-focused and digitally-enabled criminal justice institutions.

My UNODC colleagues and I remain as committed as ever to working with all of you to keep the world safer from terrorism, by supporting criminal justice institutions that leave no one behind.

Thank you.