Attempts to minimize security/military responses to terrorism

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with the active leadership of President Obama, has become a major player in the UN-based campaign to reject what is disparagingly referred to as a security-focused (i.e. military) approach to countering terrorism. Instead of prioritizing the need to defeat the enemy on the battlefield, the preferred UN strategy is to refocus international attention on the prevention of alleged "root causes" or the "drivers" of violent extremism that lead to terrorism. Western democratic states seeking to eradicate the scourge of terrorism are negatively affected by the denigration of security priorities and the distortion of the concomitant legal framework of self-defense.

Secretary-General

  • Secretary-General's Remarks at the 'Geneva Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism The Way Forward,' April 8, 2016

    "The Plan of Action puts forward a comprehensive and balanced approach for concerted action at the global, regional and national levels. It is based on five inter-related points: Number one, we must put prevention first. Evidence shows that security and military responses alone cannot defeat this scourge. Sometimes such responses have proven to be counter-productive..."

  • Secretary General's Statement to General Assembly on Plan to Prevent Violent Extremism, January 16, 2016

    "Many years of experience have proven that short-sighted policies, failed leadership, heavy-handed approaches, a single-minded focus only on security measures and an utter disregard for human rights have often made things worse..."
  • Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, Report of the Secretary General, A/70/674, January 7, 2016

    "4. Over the past two decades, the international community has sought to address violent extremism primarily within the context of security-based counter-terrorism measures adopted in response to the threat posed by Al-Qaida and its affiliated groups. However, with the emergence of a new generation of groups, there is a growing international consensus that such counter-terrorism measures have not been sufficient to prevent the spread of violent extremism...
    6. There is a need to take a more comprehensive approach which encompasses not only ongoing, essential security-based counter-terrorism measures, but also systematic preventive measures which directly address the drivers of violent extremism that have given rise to the emergence of these new and more virulent groups...
    41. Both the General Assembly and the Security Council have acknowledged that violent extremism has reached a level of threat and sophistication that requires concerted action beyond law enforcement, military or security measures to address development, good governance, human rights and humanitarian concerns..."

  • Letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the General Assembly on the Plan of Action to Counter Violent Extremism, A/70/675, December 24, 2015

    "The international community needs to adopt a comprehensive approach which encompasses not only ongoing essential security-based counter-terrorism measures, but also systematic preventive measures which directly address the drivers of violent extremism at the local, national, regional and global levels."

  • Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations and conflict prevention: a collective recommitment, S/2015/730, September 25, 2015

    "[T]he rapid rise of violent extremism has an impact on all our work and requires us to look at the drivers of this phenomenon and make prevention even more proactive and forward looking."

  • Report of the Secretary-General on women and peace and security, S/2015/716, September 16, 2015

    "88. As violent extremist groups continue to grow in power and influence, international actors have focused on military and security solutions to stop their progress. This approach is not sufficient to address the evolving problem, and can result in human rights violations that can further fuel grievances...
    90...One-sided security-driven solutions heighten women's insecurity, with militarized counter-terrorism operations disrupting economic and social activity and destroying civilian infrastructure that is not used for military purposes...
    138. National spending on military defence largely surpasses investments for sustainable peace and development... Moreover, inequality has increased in almost all countries, and public institutions are unable to address the basic needs of all... Although the need to ensure peaceful societies is globally recognized at the heart of the Charter of the United Nations, practical discussions on resourcing and policy shifts are needed to translate those aspirations into reality. The global study suggests the reduction of excessive military spending as one concrete measure in this regard."

General Assembly

  • The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review, A/RES/72/284, June 26, 2018

    "9. Stresses the significance of a sustained and comprehensive approach, including through stronger efforts, where necessary, to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, bearing in mind that terrorism will not be defeated by military force, law enforcement measures and intelligence operations alone;..."

  • The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review, A/RES/70/291, July 1, 2016

    "8. Stresses the significance of a sustained and comprehensive approach, including through stronger efforts, where necessary, to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, bearing in mind that terrorism will not be defeated by military force, law enforcement measures and intelligence operations alone;..."

  • 'Geneva Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism The Way Forward,' hosted by the United Nations and Government of Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, April 7-8, 2016

      Pierre Krahenuhl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA: "As we have seen over the past two decades, and this has been mentioned by the Secretary-General repeatedly, relying only or primarily on military responses has often failed to bring stability..."

      Organization of Islamic Cooperation: "The Secretary-General's report recognized that the security-based counter-terrorism measures have not been sufficient to prevent the spread of violent extremism. Hence, we welcome the emphasis on balanced implementation across all four pillars of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, especially its Pillars 1 and 4 regarding targeting conditions conducive to terrorism..."

      Pakistan: "...we would need to acknowledge the close linkage between the rise of extremism and deliberate destruction of governance institutions through foreign intervention..."

      Kuwait: "And we're calling from this podium for the international community to unite and work to adopt a comprehensive approach to counter violent extremism that does not settle only to security approach, but takes regular preventative measures that deal with the causes of violent extremism."

      Sudan: "In addition, the unilateral coercive measures is also one of the instruments that lead to threatening the security and stability of these states. The victims of these instruments are even more than the victims of violent extremism, and the continuation of these practices will lead to depravation, depriving us of our basic rights."
  • General Assembly Debate on Secretary General's Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, February 12 and February 16, 2016
    • Iran's Statement at General Assembly Debate on UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, February 16, 2016

      "Meanwhile, foreign and military interventions and regime change policies have significantly and globally fed violent extremism. They all deserve to be addressed and highlighted in the report."

    • Saudi Arabia's Statement on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), February 12, 2016

      "The OIC recognizes that terrorism cannot be tackled by security or military means alone, and underlines the need to attach new attention to and devising concrete plans for addressing the various dimensions and root causes of terrorism."

    • Sudan's Statement, February 12, 2016

      "It is also important to address its root causes and its main incubators through a comprehensive and balanced approach that does not only focus on the security and military aspects."


Security Council

  • Security Council Resolution, "Maintenance of international peace and security," S/RES/2250, December 9, 2015

    "[S]tressing the importance of addressing conditions and factors leading to the rise of radicalization to violence and violent extremism among youth, which can be conducive to terrorism,...
    16. Encourages Member States to engage relevant local communities and non-governmental actors in developing strategies to counter the violent extremist narrative that can incite terrorist acts, address the conditions conducive to the spread of violent extremism, which can be conducive to terrorism, including by empowering youth, families, women, religious, cultural and education leaders, and all other concerned groups of civil society and adopt tailored approaches to countering recruitment to this kind of violent extremism and promoting social inclusion and cohesion;..."


President of the Human Rights Council

  • Inputs from the President of the Human Rights Council to the 2016 High Level Political Forum: the Work of the Human Rights Council in relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, June 6, 2016

    "[E]fforts must be made to address the underlying grievances that foster violent extremism and terrorism."