Attempts to define terrorism perpetrators as "victims"

The UN's shift in focus to preventing violent extremism has become a tool to attack the counter-terrorism operations of developed countries. The latter are accused of offenses against the supposedly aggrieved extremists, offenses such as engaging in systemic religious discrimination and human rights violations. The special focus on prevention is abused to delegitimize self-defense or lawful "security" responses. False narratives of victimization reduce essential military options. At the same time, actual drivers of terrorism and violent extremism are selectively omitted (like antisemitism, rejection of free speech, misogyny, and homophobia).


  • Capability of the United Nations System to Assist Member States in Implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Report of the Secretary-General, A/71/858, April 13, 2017
    • Written reply by Pakistan: "11. We believe that without addressing the underlying and root causes of terrorism, we will only be fighting its symptoms. We have always advocated that ... foreign occupation, denial of the right to self-determination and political and economic injustice, as well as political marginalization and alienation contribute to the spread of terrorism. Therefore, it is important not to delink terrorism from its political context."
    • Written reply by Turkey: "6...preventive efforts in the framework of pillars I and IV should focus on combating intolerance, social exclusion and all forms of xenophobia."
  • Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, Report of the Secretary General, A/70/674, January 7, 2016

    "27...Violations of international human rights law committed in the name of state security can facilitate violent extremism by marginalizing individuals and alienating key constituencies, thus generating community support and sympathy for and complicity in the actions of violent extremists. Violent extremists also actively seek to exploit state repression and other grievances in their fight against the state. Thus, Governments that exhibit repressive and heavy-handed security responses in violation of human rights and the rule of law, such as profiling of certain populations, adoption of intrusive surveillance techniques and prolongation of declared states of emergency, tend to generate more violent extremists..."

General Assembly

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

    "Reaffirming the determination of Member States to continue to do all that they can to resolve conflict, end foreign occupation...,"

  • 2018 United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review, June 26, 2018 (First Meeting)

    Venezuela: "Nor should terrorism be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples under colonial or foreign domination or occupation for self-determination and national liberation. We should continue to denounce the brutal treatment of people under foreign occupation, since that is the gravest form of terrorism, and to condemn the use of State power for repressing or brutalizing people who are fighting foreign occupation in exercise of their inalienable right to self-determination... [T]he struggle of peoples under colonial or foreign domination or occupation for self-determination and national liberation does not constitute terrorism."

    Saudi Arabia (speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation): "The OIC reaffirms that we must make concerted and determined efforts to effectively address the root causes and drivers of terrorism and the conditions conducive to its spread, including...ending foreign occupation..."

    Egypt: "We have also preserved several other important paragraphs that others had sought to delete or amend in way that would have rendered them meaningless, including paragraphs on...the need to put an end to foreign occupation..."

  • 2018 United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review, June 26, 2018 (Second Meeting)

    Algeria: "The fight against violent extremism and terrorism must also include the rejection of xenophobia and Islamophobia, which are emerging as the new faces of violent extremism... Algeria has consistently called for that commitment to be observed, although we strongly believe that any selective approach...aimed at excluding the principle of the right to self-determination of peoples under foreign occupation is not acceptable... It is therefore satisfactory that, for the second review in a row, the General Assembly and member States have reaffirmed their determination to continue to do all they can to resolve conflicts and foreign occupation..."

    Lebanon: "We also reject any attempt to label the right to resist foreign occupation...with terrorism, with the aim of serving a political purpose and distorting reality... Nonetheless, we all know that to eradicate this source of evil, we have to address the deep structural causes, both internal and external, that create and fuel an environment conducive to radicalism turning into terrorism. They range from prolonged conflicts, foreign occupation..."

    Iran: "We acknowledge the progress made in resolution 72/284... It also addresses the conditions conducive to terrorism and violent extremism, including but not limited to prolonged unresolved conflicts;...foreign occupation;... Moreover, the resolution recalls the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, adopted by consensus at the fifty-third session of the General Assembly, which encompasses important principles, inter alia, the realization of the right of all peoples living under colonial or foreign occupation to self-determination and liberation... The Islamic Republic of Iran opposes any attempt to equate the legitimate struggle of peoples under colonial or foreign occupation for self-determination with terrorism."

    Pakistan: "It is therefore critical that Member States reaffirm their determination to address some of the most pervasive root causes of terrorism, including the resolution of conflicts, both long-standing, protracted ones and newer ones. That means addressing issues such as ending foreign occupation; allowing for the exercise of the right to self-determination...; eliminating all forms of discrimination, including xenophobia and Islamophobia..."

  • The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review, A/70/L.55, July 1, 2016

    "Reaffirming Member States' determination to continue to do all they can to resolve conflict, end foreign occupation..."

  • 2016 United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review, July 1 and 7, 2016

    • Algeria's Statement, July 7, 2016

      "To be more explicit, the international community can not flee its responsibilities with regard to realization of the right to self determination of all peoples that are still under foreign occupation and alien domination. We welcome, in this regard, the reaffirmation through this year's resolution of Member States' determination to continue to do all they can to resolve conflict, end foreign occupation..."

    • Lebanon's Statement, July 7, 2016

      "When dealing with counter terrorism, we must also keep in mind that it should not be associated with other principles recognized under international law, such as the right to self­ determination and to resist foreign occupation. In this regard, my delegation would like to denounce the attempts from one delegation to label the legitimate right to resist foreign occupation as terrorism..."

    • Saudi Arabia's Statement on Behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, July 1, 2016

      "The OIC affirms that there is a need to make concerted determined efforts to effectively address the root causes, drivers and conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, including preventing unlawful use of force and aggression, ending foreign occupation..."

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

    Organization of Islamic Cooperation: "We're confronted with a faceless enemy, with no face or creed, which lurks in the shadows of fear and frustration, breeds on despair and disillusionment, and is fed by foreign occupation...It's a manifestation of growing anger, hatred, and sense of helplessness against continuing wars, injustice, oppression, and the denial of fundamental freedom and rights, particular to those of Palestinians... Muslims are suffering from the scourge of terrorist groups and the Islamophobic policies and discourse."

    Pakistan: "Why is violent extremism growing in areas which have faced persistent foreign intervention and occupation where people have long been struggling for their legitimate right of self-determination?... It is very clear that violent extremism is being pushed by ... foreign occupation ... a key factor in the recent rise of violent extremism has been ... continued foreign occupation... Will not the rising trends of xenophobia and Islamophobia contribute to strengthen the extremists?... In recent years there's been a disturbing rise of extreme right-wing parties driven by xenophobic Islamophobic impulses in the West."

    Syria: "Violent extremism is a multidimensional phenomenon, thus fighting and preventing it should not rest on a selective approach to its goals and root causes. That includes foreign occupation, discrimination and xenophobia."

    Iran: "In this connection, extremist ideology and hate speech in the media against Muslims should not be condoned in the name of freedom of expression, which helps create conditions conducive for the spread of violent extremism."

    Jordan: "Among the drivers of violent extremism are unresolved and protected conflicts and foreign occupation. All efforts should, therefore, be focused on resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and ending occupation, which provides pretext for recruiting purposes and spreading violent extremist ideologies."

    Qatar: "We reiterate the importance of the Plan of Action to prevent violent extremisms and to eradicate all the drivers, such as the continuing conflicts, occupation... Facing such a challenge, Mr. Chairman, requires an international joint response and a comprehensive strategy to end conflicts in the world, namely: ending the Israeli occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories and establishing an independent and sovereign State of Palestine... Also, some parties are using violent extremism acts in order to fuel Islamophobia and other acts of terrorism. Attacking religious symbols would also give more excuses to extremists and their recruiters."

    Egypt: "There are other main drivers to violent extremism or terrorism that were not identified in the Plan of Action, such as ... racism, and xenophobia, defamation of religion... the Action Plan did not include a reference to all the drivers within states leading to violent extremism and, therefore, to terrorism such as Islamophobia and actions that are insulting to Islam and to the Prophet under the pretext of freedom of expression as well as treating Muslims as second class citizens as well as other reasons."

    Kuwait: "And we call upon the need ... to look into the reasons behind this phenomenon, like ... occupation..."

    Bahrain: "Israeli occupation of Arabic lands and Palestine for a long time are main factors, are reasons behind this phenomenon."

    Oman: "[T]here is a need to address all aspects of Islamophobia... occupation are among the causes that provoke extremism."

    Sudan: "I mean the main manifesto of those political parties is based on this anti-Muslims tendency and anti-Arabs, and I think this is very, very alarming. So the Islamophobia and many, I mean, challenges I think needs to be-needed to be addressed... We are facing, or rather this comes in the roots of many of the international problems that we are facing nowadays, including ... Islamophobia, and the provocative media that is targeting Islam and the figures of Islam.... Foreign occupation is indeed the incubator, the main incubator that breeds terrorism and violent extremism... We are facing, or rather this comes in the roots of many of the international problems that we are facing nowadays, including the international occupation issue..."

  • Egypt's Statement at the 'Geneva Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism – The Way Forward,' April 7, 2016

    "The Report or Plan by the SG [UN Secretary General] lay down 5 main drivers namely; Lack of socioeconomic opportunities - Marginalization and discrimination- Poor governance, violations of human rights and the rule of law- Prolonged and unresolved conflicts- Radicalization in prisons. I would agree with both socioeconomic opportunities and prolonged and unresolved conflicts as well as long-time grievances as we have seen in Palestine, especially Gaza... Meanwhile, there are other main drivers to violent extremism or terrorism that were not identified in the SG Plan of Action such as (1) foreign domination and occupation that deny peoples the opportunity to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination, (2) racism and xenophobia, (3) defamation of religion... "
  • General Assembly Debate on Secretary General's Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, February 12 and February 16, 2016
    • Algeria's Statement, February 16, 2016

      "The struggle against violent extremism and terrorism must also include the rejection against xenophobia and Islamophobia, which are emerging as the new faces of violent extremism."

    • Iran's Statement, February 16, 2016

      "Foreign occupation, which is per se a manifestation of violent extremism, has been used to incite violence out of desperation and hopelessness."

    • Lebanon's Statement, February 16, 2016

      "Addressing root causes, drivers, political grievances, or whatever we want to call them, of violent extremism, is crucial: foreign occupation ... and impunity, tend to create fertile ground for violent extremism."

    • Malaysia's Statement, February 16, 2016

      "We are concerned at the increase of intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, resulting in the upsurge of Islamophobia, a phenomenon which is an affront to the human rights and dignity of Muslims."

    • Egypt's Statement, February 12, 2016

      "Additionally, the plan has not contained a reference to all the reasons inside the states leading to violent extremism, which in turn gives rise to terrorism such as Islamophobia and other reasons...Let us be candid. If there is a serious desire to take action, the international community must realize that Israel's continued occupation of Palestine is one of the main reasons behind the proliferation of violent extremism leading to terrorism in addition to internal interference in the internal affairs of states, offending Islam and the Prophet (peace be upon him) on the pretext of freedom of expression, treating Muslim citizens as citizens of second class in some other states..."

    • Israel's Statement, February 12, 2016

      "Unfortunately, in Israel the threat of terrorism is all too real. For decades, Israel has been at the forefront of confronting terror and radical ideology. Over the course of the past few months alone, 30 Israelis have been killed by terrorists, and over 300 have been injured in hundreds of attacks... We must not allow excuses for terror - 'no ifs and or buts' - terror is terror is terror... Some in this chamber seek to infuse politicization into this discussion - but this background noise must not be allowed to hijack this important topic..."

    • Jordan's Statement, February 12, 2016

      "I would like to state that the continued Israeli-Palestinian conflicts and the failure to achieve just and permanent solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people will lead to more violence and hatred."

    • Maldives's Statement, February 12, 2016

      "Islam is increasingly being associated with terror and extremism. Islamophobia, as a spectrum of negative expressions continues to expand rapidly..."

    • Pakistan's Statement, February 12, 2016

      "Injustices done to peoples under foreign occupation, denial of the right to self-determination, long-festering and unresolved international disputes ... create conditions that are exploited by violent extremists and terrorists to propagate their twisted ideologies...Negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination and intolerance all need to be rectified to prevent violent extremism... Xenophobia, in particular Islamophobia, is on the rise in the West. This has so far gone unchecked and unfortunately unprincipled, xenophobic politicians have sought to build their political fortunes by spreading fear and deliberate mischaracterization of people of other faiths or culture..."

    • Qatar's Statement, February 12, 2016

      "Attempts by some entities to use single violent incidents and link it with no evidence to specific religions such as Islamophobia [are] misleading and thwart the efforts to verify the reasons behind terrorism. Offending symbols of specific religions give pretext to the extremists to recruit their supporters."

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

      "On a comprehensive approach to tackle terrorism, the OIC believes that due attention and concrete plan of actions must address the following aspects and dimensions of the phenomenon of terrorism...The deep impact and legacy of historical injustices done to colonized peoples or those under occupation where sufferings and the forced destruction of their national institutions, culture, and identity and the denial of their rights to self-determination. The potential of external actors penetrating terrorist and extremist groups for the purpose of serving their own political agenda, and the threat of non-Arab and non-Muslim fighters...The OIC expresses serious concern over the increase of intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, resulting in the upsurge of Islamophobia, a phenomenon which is an affront to the human rights and dignity of Muslims...In this regard, the OIC calls upon all states to prevent any advocacy of religious discrimination, hostility, or violence and defamation of Islam by incorporating legal and administrative measures which render defamation illegal and punishable by law and also urges member and observer states to adopt specific and relevant educational measures at all levels..."

    • Sudan's Statement, February 12, 2016

      "We cannot talk about violent extremism without mentioning foreign occupation, which is the main incubator of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as well as of violent extremism conducive to terrorism..."

    • Syria's Statement, February 12, 2016

      "My delegation stresses that efforts of preventing violent extremism will not succeed unless the international community put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan and other occupied Arab territories, and stop the violent extremism and terrorism perpetrated by Israeli settlers against the Arab citizens living under occupation. The Israeli violent extremism is backed by the extreme Israeli governments that refused and rejected international legitimacy resolutions, and seeks to create, in the occupied territories, a one religion state that excludes the followers of other faiths."

    • Venezuela's Statement, February 12, 2016

      "...the long-term solution to the threats posed today by violent extremism must absolutely require political solution to conflicts in countries like ... Palestine. These protracted crises further exacerbate conflicts and serve as a breeding ground for violent extremism, for bolstering organized transactional crime; they facilitate the flow of financing and training of foreign terrorist fighters and, therefore, expanding the capacity of action for terrorist organizations."

    • United Arab Emirates' Statement, February 12, 2016

      "The Plan of Action needs to address other factors that propel extremism, most notably foreign occupation and 'State terrorism.'"
  • General Assembly High-Level Thematic Debate on Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation: Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism, April 23, 2015
    • Syria's Statement, April 23, 2015

      "Mr. President, those that think that groups such as Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, Boko Haram, Jemaah Islamiya occurred spontaneously or by accident are deluding themselves or they are just choosing to look away. There are real networks that explain how these groups developed. The most visible are Zionism, the fatwas that have been issued and the extremist educational programs, and the authorization by certain governments of terrorism and extremism as a tool for implementing political agendas that are very doubtful in Syria or elsewhere."