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Global Counterterrorism Forum - Ministerial Level Plenary Session of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF)


Istanbul, 7 June 2012 - Statement by Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter - Check against delivery

Foreign Minister Davutoglu
Madam Secretary of State Clinton
Dear Colleagues

1. Switzerland’s political positions on counterterrorism
Switzerland condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. It rejects any notion that associates terrorism with race, ethnicity, civilization, nationality or religion. Terrorism is a most horrendous crime, and its victims may be found in all parts of this world. Our sympathy is with them.

Our answer to terrorism must be resolute:
·  We need determination and resilience where terrorists want to weaken us by inducing fear;
·  We need dialog and understanding where terrorists want to polarize and fuel violent extremism;
·  And we need intense cooperation between States, international organizations, civil society and the private sector, where terrorists want to bring us apart.

2. Governance; the central role of the United Nations
The founding document of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, the Political Declaration, underlines the central role of the United Nations. It emphasizes also the full, comprehensive and balanced implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Switzerland supports a close and mutually beneficial relationship between the Global Counter Terrorism Forum, the United Nations and other international, regional and sub-regional organizations.

At the beginning of this year, Switzerland has organised the Interlaken conference, attended by some hundred representatives of the Forum's Member States, the UN, the EU and nine regional organizations. The conference strengthened the relationship between the different actors. Each institution needs to draw on its comparative advantages.
What the Global Counter Terrorism Forum can offer in terms of efficiency, the United Nations can offer in terms of legitimacy

3. Swiss contribution to GCTF
The Forum’s success will be measured by its impact on the ground. Interaction with all relevant actors in the field is crucial. International endeavors have to meet local needs in order to create the necessary sense of ownership.
The Swiss contribution is manifold. Let me cite some examples:

·  Switzerland co-sponsors a UN initiative on the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy at the regional level. in South-East Asia, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, the West/North Africa, and South Asia.

·  To address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, Switzerland has devised programs for building the capacity of the security and military sectors in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. It will finance an OSCE Project to counter violent extremism and radicalization through community policing.

·  To prevent and combat terrorism, Switzerland sponsors three Security Council initiatives:
o  to prevent the abuse of the non-profit sector to finance terrorism,
o  to implement the asset freezing mechanism required by Security Council resolutions,
o  and to develop terrorist financing indicators.

·  Switzerland assists partner countries to comply with international standards on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism. To that end, it has contributed 5 million US Dollars to the IMF. And later this year, Switzerland and Nigeria will organize an International Seminar in Abuja on Countering the Financing of Terrorism.

·  Finally, Switzerland has earmarked funds for the protection and promotion of human rights and pluralistic civil societies in “Arab spring countries”. Switzerland supports the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s project on “Strengthening the legal regime against terrorism", and supports a project on the impact of counterterrorism-based laws and regulations on humanitarian action and humanitarian donorship.

4. Security and Human Rights

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In combating terrorism, security concerns have to be brought together with the protection of individual liberties. This integrated approach is already anchored in the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Combating terrorism and respecting human rights and the rule of law are complementary and mutually reinforcing. 

We must not fail in putting this into practice: We need to ensure the security and safety of our citizens. Individual liberties can only prosper in a safe environment. Conversely, violations of human rights and deficiencies in the rule of law may be a source of violence. 

That there be no misunderstanding: we do not suggest “going soft” on terrorism – on the contrary. Our point is: We can only win the fight against terrorism if we uphold the rule of law and thereby live up to our standards, principles and values at all times. Our values must be our compass in this important fight.  

5. Good Practices

In the first year, the Global Counter Terrorism Forum has invested efforts in elaborating framework documents. The Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices for Effective Counterterrorism Practice in the Criminal Justice Sector strikes a balance between the need for an effective law enforcement system and the respect for due process. Every precautionary measure must be taken to protect innocent lives. 

Let me also stress in this context the need to ensure that counter-terrorism laws do not criminalize humanitarian commitments. The Rabat Memorandum together with the Rome Memorandum on Good Practices on Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremists will be a useful basis for concrete action.

Discussions on the Algiers Memorandum on Good Practices on Preventing and Denying the Benefits of Kidnapping for Ransom by Terrorists are ongoing. The use of kidnapping for ransom is a major concern. Switzerland takes a tough stance on this issue: Switzerland does and will not pay any ransom.
But what is needed is a more intense international cooperation to better protect our citizens from kidnapping. We should reflect how to strengthen international cooperation with a view to preventing kidnapping and, if need be, to rescuing hostages. 

6. Conclusion

Ladies and Gentlemen

We must all work together to address the threat of terrorism, to protect our citizens, to strengthen global security and to foster stability. The Global Counter Terrorism Forum is an important force for enhancing our efforts in this respect. I reassure you that Switzerland will continue to be committed to this goal. 

Thank you for your attention.

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Internet: http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/recent/media.html

Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter will represent Switzerland at the Global Counterterrorism Forum

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