India has underlined the need to distinguish between political ideologies that are part of a pluralistic democratic polity and the radical ideologies that subscribe to terrorism, emphasisng that any attempt to paint both of them with the same brush is ”inaccurate” and ”counterproductive”.
Speaking at the Ambassador-level Annual Briefing to Member States organised by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said India has always maintained that nations should not go back to pre-9/11 era when terrorists were being divided into ‘your terrorist’ and ‘my terrorist’.
He said categorising them weakens the collective resolve to combat terrorism.
“We see a renewal of this attempt by trying to divide terror again into categories and label them. For example, under the label of xenophobia, racism, and other forms of intolerance or in the name of religion or belief, efforts have been made to bring into this discussion categories such as right-wing extremism, far right and far left extremism, violent nationalism, racially ethnically motivated violent nationalism,” he said.
Tirumurti said there is a need to understand is that in democracies right-wing and left-wing are part of the polity and come to power through elections reflecting the majority will of the people.
“Democracy by definition contains a broad spectrum of ideologies and beliefs. We need to distinguish between the political ideologies which are part of a pluralistic democratic polity, as against radical ideologies which subscribe to terrorism. Our fight is against such radical ideologies and not against democracy. To paint them with the same brush is inaccurate and counterproductive,” he said.
Amid efforts to prepare report of the Secretary-General mandated by the General Assembly to assess the threat posed by the terrorist acts on the basis of xenophobia, racism, and other forms of Intolerance, or in the name of religion or belief, Tirumurti underlined that “we should not be selective in our approach but in fact seek to implement a zero-tolerance against terror.” Tirumurti, currently the Chair of the 1988 Sanctions Committee as well as of the Counter-terrorism Committee of the Security Council, said the overall threat of terrorism has only increased.
“The threat posed by al-Qaeda, ISIL and their affiliates in Asia as well as in Africa, and their links with those designated under 1267 need to be recognised and addressed,” Tirumurti said.
He said the recent report of 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee highlighted how the close link between the Taliban, especially through the Haqqani network, and al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups still continues.
“We need to ensure that radical groups in one region do not draw sustenance from another,” he said.
Tirumurti said he looked forward to enhancing synergies between the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), both of which play complementary roles.
“One of the aspects, which has not been fully explored is the role victims of terrorism and their networks can play in countering terrorism. We know that the UNOCT has put a spotlight on this issue. We are also reaching out to civil society to support our efforts on counter-terrorism,” he said.
Tirumurti also referred to the adoption of 7th review resolution of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy (GCTS) in June last year, when it was reaffirmed that there cannot be any excuse or justification for any act of terrorism, regardless of motivations of the terrorist actors as underlined in relevant UN Security Council resolution.
The review also, more importantly, rejected the divisive efforts of a few member states, looking for labeling terrorism based on motivations, especially based on political and other ideologies. It is important that the UN response to terrorism remains united, unambiguous, and unequivocal, he said.
Tirumurti noted that it is equally important that the integrity of the GCTS is preserved and attempts to undermine this hard-earned consensus are stopped.
He also voiced concern over the “real emerging threat” posed by the terrorist use of information and communications technologies, emerging technologies such as social media, new payment methods, video games, encrypted messaging services, cryptocurrencies and drones for which most of the member states do not have adequate response capabilities.
“We have been witnessing cross-border terrorist attacks through drones. Global expert bodies such as Financial Action Task Force or FATF have been raising red flags about terrorist financing, and laxity of certain member states in bringing their practices at par with international Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) standards,” he said, calling for the need to strengthen efforts of FATF.
“Countering terrorist narratives, particularly through internet and other online means, have remained a challenge. Enhanced online presence of young people during pandemic has exposed them to exploitation by a terrorist group through hate speech and recruitment. Let us not forget that the greatest violators of human rights are the terrorists,” he said.