Don’t return to era of ‘your terrorists’ and ‘my terrorists’: India cautions UN

India said that the international community should not forget that before the 9/11 terror attacks, the world was divided into “your terrorists” or “my terrorists”.

India has cautioned that 20 years after the 9/11 terror attacks, there are attempts again to divide terrorism into different terminologies such as violent nationalism and right wing extremism, asserting that the world should not return to the era of “your terrorists” and “my terrorists” but fight the scourge collectively.

Participating in the UN General Assembly debate on adoption of resolution on 7th Review of Global Counter Terrorism Strategy (GCTS) on Tuesday, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador TS Tirumurti said that the international community has acknowledged that the threat of terrorism is grave and universal, and can only be defeated by collective efforts of all UN member states, without any exception.

“It is only after 9/11 that we accepted that terrorism in one part of the world can directly impact another part of the world and we all came together to fight terrorism collectively,” he said.

‘Attempts to divide us once again’

The envoy said the international community should not forget that before the 9/11 terror attacks, the world was divided into “your terrorists” or “my terrorists”. Two decades later, “we are now seeing attempts to divide us once again” by adopting new terminologies under the guise of “emerging threats” such as racially and ethnically-motivated violent extremism, violent nationalism, right wing extremism, he said.

“I do hope that member states do not forget history and divide terrorism again into different categories and take us back to the era of ‘your terrorists’ and ‘my terrorists’ and erase the gains we have had over the last two decades,” Tirumurti said.

He noted that the continued absence of a universally agreed definition of terrorism is “detrimental to our shared goal” of eliminating the global scourge.

“The current strategy fails to resolve the stalemate preventing the adoption of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, which India has championed,” Tirumurti said.

According to the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy is a “unique global instrument to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. Through its adoption by consensus in 2006, all UN Member States agreed the first time to a common strategic and operational approach to fighting terrorism”.

The UN General Assembly reviews the Strategy every two years, making it a living document attuned to member states’ counter-terrorism priorities. The General Assembly reviews the Strategy and considers the adoption of a resolution on this occasion, the UN agency said.

‘Terrorism in all its forms should be condemned’

Tirumurti said the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy was adopted by consensus 15 years ago and was a major step forward in maintaining and achieving international peace and security.

“It was agreed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations should be condemned, there cannot be any exception or justification for any act of terrorism, regardless of motivations behind such acts, and wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed. It was also recognised that the menace of terrorism cannot be and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group,” Tirumurti said.

He said it is essential for all member states to not only not squander the gains of “what we have achieved so far but also ensure that we do not give the slightest opportunity to provide excuses or justification for terrorism, thereby diminishing our collective fight”.

“Justifying terrorism in any way, whether on grounds of religion, ideology, ethnicity or race, will only provide the necessary fodder for terrorists to enhance their activities even more,” he said.

Noting that while the matter of religious “phobias” finds mention in the current document, Tirumurti said India is once again constrained to point out that this listing has been selective and confined only to the three Abrahamic religions.

“This august body has once again failed to acknowledge the rise of hatred and violent terrorist attacks against other religions, inter alia, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism. Further, we need to make a distinction between countries which are pluralistic and those which resort to  sectarian violence and trample over minority rights. United Nations is not a body or the forum where member states should take sides on religious-phobias, but should instead truly foster a culture based on universal principles of humanity and compassion so that terrorists’ narratives are fought collectively,” he said.

The envoy also asserted that success of this strategy will depend only if member states “walk the talk” by sincerely implementing the provisions and fulfilling their obligations as envisaged in the strategy.

As a victim of cross-border terrorism for several decades, India has been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and one of the major victims of terrorism. However, it’s time to call out those that blatantly violate global commitments by harbouring terrorists and terrorist entities by willfully giving moral, material, financial and ideological support to these groups, he said.

Tirumurti said the misuse of internet and social media for terrorist propaganda, radicalisation and recruitment of cadre; misuse of new payment methods such as block-chain currencies, payment wallets, crowdfunding platforms for terrorism financing; and misuse of emerging technologies such as drones, 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, robotics have emerged as the most serious threats of terrorism, which warrants collaborative actions from all member states.

“The international community needs to adopt a policy of zero-tolerance towards terrorism. Our collective condemnation of terrorism must be loud, clear and without any ambiguity,” he said.

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