Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director

CCPCJ Side Event: Preview of UNODC’s Global Programme on Preventing and Countering Terrorism

  16 May 2022 

I am pleased to be with you today as we preview our upcoming UNODC Global Programme on Preventing and Countering Terrorism 2022-2027, which we expect will be finalized and launched in the near future.

As conflicts and emergencies dominate the headlines, the threat of terrorism remains as urgent as ever.

Pandemic movement restrictions are easing, but the difficult circumstances brought about by the pandemic and other crises continue, giving rise to instability and dangerous frustrations. Terrorism preys on desperation, inequality, and hopelessness to spread and recruit.

These conditions add up to a perfect storm, threatening stability and increasing risks of violent extremism.

COVID-19 and climate change, as well as conflict and instability in different corners of the globe, have ravaged the world economy and rendered conditions fertile for terrorist groups to exploit.

The conflict in Ukraine is leaving millions at greater risk, from Ukrainians fleeing the war to vulnerable people across the world hit by the soaring prices of basic goods.

The number of people facing food insecurity globally has more than doubled since 2019, surpassing 270 million.

Sub-Saharan Africa is becoming a flashpoint for terrorism. Dae’sh is resurgent and groups like Boko Haram are expanding, taking advantage of a crisis-hit region that needs 425 billion dollars in additional funding to support growth in the wake of the pandemic, according to the IMF.

Afghanistan is at risk of becoming an international hub for terrorism once again.

There is an urgent need for the UN system to respond swiftly and decisively to these risks, by leveraging the tools at our disposal to build resilience to terrorism, and to help and protect those who are most at risk.

UNODC’s new Global Programme to Prevent and Counter Terrorism aims to do just that, by working with partners to develop institutions, strategies, and policies that are inclusive, people-centred, effective, and responsive to the ever-evolving challenges posed by terrorism in today’s world.

Our previous work on countering and preventing terrorism has yielded results that we can be proud of; in South Asia where we established a regional network of practitioners; in Morocco, where our assistance in countering the financing of terrorism led to a more than threefold increase in the number of investigations and prosecutions; in Nigeria, where we supported the review of hundreds of terrorism case files; in Tunisia, Lebanon, and Jordan, where we provided equipment and training to maintain criminal justice capacities during the pandemic; and in many other parts of the world.

Now, building on those successes, and based on extensive consultations with Member States, regional organizations, UN entities, civil society organizations, academic institutions, and the private sector, we have developed a new Global Programme to provide technical assistance against terrorism while keeping human rights front and center, and engaging communities.

This approach will contribute to the implementation of the General Assembly’s latest resolution reviewing the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy (2021).

The new Programme targets three major outcomes.

Firstly, we will step up our efforts to support Member States' accession and adherence to the international legal framework against terrorism, including all 19 of its instruments, and to assist countries in legislating in line with them and implementing them effectively.

Secondly, we will help Member States develop and implement forward-looking terrorism prevention measures built on strong partnerships, youth empowerment, and a gender-responsive approach.

We will focus on reducing the risks associated with terrorism by creating the conditions for individuals and communities to be part of the solution, with the active and equal participation of women and girls as well as young people.

Lastly, we will support the development of more robust and accountable criminal justice institutions that can investigate and prosecute terrorism cases effectively and cooperate across borders, while respecting and upholding human rights.

Across all three major outcomes, building trust between governments and societies will be a cornerstone of the Programme, guided by Our Common Agenda’s central mission and its vision for SDG 16.

We will look to undertake new initiatives in line with this new vision, working with our partners.

In collaboration with sister UN entities and other partners, we will design measures to improve the accountability of criminal justice responses to terrorism; we will leverage the Women, Peace and Security Agenda to promote responses that include, support and empower women; and we will expand our research on the links between terrorism and organized crime.

We will also engage with youth-led organizations to amplify the voices of young people in preventing terrorism and establishing a culture of peace, and work with technology firms to address terrorist content online and to facilitate the exchange of digital evidence in terrorism cases.

We will continue to actively contribute to the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact and to coordinate closely with the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Executive Directorate, to ensure that our delivery is in line with UN Security Council mandates and our role within them.

We will also continue to implement the UNODC’s Joint Plan of Action with the UN Office of Counter Terrorism, to maximize complementarity and eliminate duplication.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In this time of global strife, we cannot afford to be complacent against the global threat of terrorism.

Now is the time to build sustainable responses that put in place the foundations for societies resilient to terrorism, and through our new Global Programme to Prevent and Counter Terrorism, UNODC will work with all of our partners to leave Member States better prepared.

My colleagues in the Terrorism Prevention Branch will keep you updated on the Programme’s development, and we count on your support.

Thank you