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Sixty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly

Published on September 21, 2011
Sixty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly/Secretary-General’s Symposium on International Counter-Terrorism – Speech by Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

New York, September 19, 2011

Allow me to thank the Secretary-General and the task force responsible for the UN’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy for organizing this symposium.

The tragic attacks that plunged Norway into mourning and the recent attacks perpetrated in Iraq, Afghanistan and India remind us that no population, no state can now consider itself permanently immune to the threat.

The international community must therefore, more than ever, demonstrate unity and solidarity. The fight against terrorism concerns us all; it’s the war democracy is waging against indiscriminate and craven violence, wherever it originates. The United Nations is the natural framework for this collective commitment. Its bodies and agencies have a fundamental role to play in facilitating cooperation on the ground.

The terrorist threat has changed significantly since 11 September 2001. Bin Laden is dead. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean the al-Qaeda threat has completely disappeared. It has become regionalized, and the amorphous grouping of local organizations that claim to follow it are taking a heavy toll on the security and development of entire regions, particularly the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, Yemen and the Pakistani-Afghan border.

We must therefore redouble our efforts.

The only solution will be a resolute commitment by all states and regions concerned and improved international cooperation. When I say this, I’m thinking particularly of the Sahel; I very much welcome the conference in Algiers from 7 to 8 September, organized by the foreign ministers of Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger and their main international partners, and I think it’s a very fine example of international cooperation.

But we must also tackle the root causes of terrorism by taking resolute action on development assistance and on strengthening governance.

It’s in this spirit that France is especially committed alongside her partners in the Maghreb countries to support them in their fight against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. This is also the thrust of the EU’s strategy for the Sahel; France is of course fully involved in this strategy.

We can take action in three directions:

- by combating the spread of weapons first of all; this will be a priority of the reconstruction efforts in Libya, which we’ll talk about tomorrow during the Friends of Libya conference;

- secondly, by strengthening the capabilities of the most fragile states, to help them control all of their territory, establish public services and exercise state authority wherever necessary. In this respect, promoting the rule of law is essential. France believes in a judicial approach to fighting terrorism. Prosecuting terrorists is the best way to discredit them. Respecting human rights is, over the long term, the best way – and perhaps the only way – to ensure the effectiveness of our fight against terrorism.

- the third direction: increasing our efforts to tackle situations that risk being exploited by terrorist movements. All too often, these movements expand their reach by exploiting the sense of abandonment felt by populations suffering unacceptable daily poverty. In the face of this situation, development assistance is vital. We must not give up trying to achieve the Millennium Development Goals that we set ourselves in 2000.

Lastly – and today perhaps most importantly – the fight against terrorism also requires action in support of democratic transition.

The revolutions that have taken place in the Arab world in recent months mark a turning point in history. Together, we must lend our support to the aspirations of the people for change and freedom, since dashed hopes could revive the temptation to resort to violence and extremism. We’ll look at this in New York this very week, during the meeting of the Deauville Partnership, which will demonstrate our solidarity with the countries in transition – Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Libya.

Today we’re at a crossroads. It’s now or never: we must stand alongside these young democracies. Let’s remain united by our values of peace and democracy in order to jointly ensure the security of our citizens around the world./.

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