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'Vigilant, determined, united': UN urges cohesive front against terrorism

10 February 2015 – The international community must remain united in countering the threat of global terrorism despite the attempts by extremist groups to "spread fear by competing in brutality," United Nations Deputy-Secretary-General Jan Eliasson declared today.

In closing remarks to an open briefing organized by the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), the Deputy-Secretary-General warned that terrorist organizations would seek to "divide" and "polarize," Member States, but the United Nations "must not fall into their trap" and instead must remain steadfastly devoted to human rights, the principles of due process and the rule of law.

"The terrorist attacks recently perpetrated in Nigeria and in Paris, along with the barbaric acts committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), prove that we must remain vigilant, determined, and united," Mr. Eliasson continued.

"It is now crucially important to let every terrorist and terrorist group hear the same message from Member States, the United Nations, and partners everywhere: the world stands united in denouncing and rejecting your atrocities."

Mr. Eliasson's plea follows a spate of recent atrocities committed by extremist groups in various theatres of conflict around the world. In the Middle East, ISIL's recent immolation of a Jordanian pilot, its beheadings of numerous hostages and the atrocities committed against civilians have stirred global outrage.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram's continued campaign of brutality in Nigeria, including the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls and repeated targeted bombings against civilians, has resulted in widespread condemnation and the promise of swift action by a designated African Union force. This, in turn, has prompted the UN to urge that the fight against terrorism be conducted in accordance with international law.

The Deputy-Secretary-General observed that the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy had made it clear that Member States could not counter terrorism in isolation or confront extremist groups solely through military action.

Instead, he added, Member States required assistance in strengthening their criminal justice systems in order to respond to "the complex nature of terrorist crimes in an accountable and transparent manner."

To that point, he noted the recent UN-backed training exercises for Nigerian law enforcement and security officials to assist them with upholding human rights and the rule of law while fighting Boko Haram.

"A truly effective response must leverage the resources of the international community and look at all aspects of the problem, including the underlying factors leading to the recruitment of new terrorists," Mr. Eliasson told the gathered delegates.

"We will not accept to have societies living in fear and division. We will more than ever stand up for our common humanity. These are fundamental principles. Nothing you can do to destruct and destroy can take these values away from us."

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