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National statements

Open Debate on Terrorism and Cross-border Crime

Thematic issues

  • Central Africa
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Justice
  • Mali
  • Middle East
  • Natural Resources
  • Peace and Security
  • Peacekeeping
  • Policing
  • Sahel
  • Sanctions
  • Somalia
  • Terrorism


Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Thank you Mr President

The links between terrorism and transnational crime, and the dramatic impact these have on contemporary conflict, is a subject that this Council has not adequately addressed before, and I therefore thank you for personally being here, and for Chad's leadership in convening this debate. Thank you also to Under-Secretary-General Feltman for his briefing, and Ambassador Tete Antonio for his statement.

Mr President

All the speakers today have described how terrorist groups and criminal networks each pose an increasing threat to peace, security, development and growth. Combined, the consequences are greater and more complex. No region is immune.

The effects are particularly manifest in countries already affected by conflict, where the consequences of criminal activity often exacerbate their very causes: weak institutions are corroded further; corruption is more firmly entrenched; legitimate economic opportunities decline and become less appealing; development is hindered; and conflicts are prolonged.

We've already heard of several cases today – particularly in North Africa, the Sahel and the Middle East – demonstrating that terrorist groups are increasingly benefiting from the proceeds of crime – including significantly greater levels of kidnapping for ransom, drug smuggling, people trafficking, and illegal exploitation of natural resources and wildlife.

Mr President

The adoption of today's resolution is an important advance. The requested Secretary-General's report should survey the links between terrorism and transnational crime and better position the UN system to disrupt the ability of terrorists to establish and benefit from these links. The report should define how the Council can play a more effective role.

In the meantime, the Council can sharpen two of its core tools. Both of these are important for the report we have mandated today from the Secretary-General and the Secretary-General's independent review of peacekeeping operations.

The first is UN Peacekeeping and Special Political Missions. Eight of the eleven countries facing the highest threat from Al Qaida-affiliated groups currently host UN missions. And organised crime is a major threat in almost every theatre in which UN missions are present. We need to get more serious about the role of these operations in addressing the threat. We cannot ignore the elephant in the room, as a recent International Peace Institute report described it.

This starts with strengthening mandates in relation to transnational organised crime. Missions also need more tools and training to gather information on and analyse the threat, to help host States disrupt illicit activities.

UN Police Components can play an important role in building the capacities of host-state law enforcement in this area– as highlighted in Resolution 2185 on policing we adopted last month. Skills in areas like criminal investigations, analysis and financial crime are relevant to both transnational crime and terrorism.

The UN should deploy more Serious Crime Support Units – such as the model proposed in the Central African Republic – and the Standing Police Capacity needs more expertise in this area. But the support from UN missions also needs to extend to judicial systems. Actual prosecutions – and convictions – are one of the most important tools in the fight.

Strengthening border management is potentially the most challenging task. The Council needs to consider where the UN can play a more effective role – drawing on modern technologies, providing capacity building to border agencies, supporting border community engagement programs and facilitating regional initiatives.

Second, one of the most effective tools at the Council's disposal – sanctions – should continue to be honed to deny terrorist groups access to resources and sanctuary and, most importantly, to starve them of funds. As Chair of the Council's Al Qaida sanctions Committee for the past two years, I have consistently tried to highlight that anyone who materially supports the actions of a person or entity on the Al Qaida Sanctions List is themselves eligible to be included on the List and subject to the sanctions. This includes organised criminal groups, even if they have no ideological connection to Al Qaida. The Council reinforced this point when it identified the key sources of financing for ISIL – Da'esh – in its 19 November presidential statement that Australia brought to the Council. States need to bring these facilitators to the Council's attention.

And, as today's resolution reaffirms, sanctions self-evidently need to be implemented if they are to have any effect. The Council and the UN system must deliver more support to key States to ensure they have the technical capacity to implement the sanctions measures – Member States are begging for such assistance, and as AU Ambassador Antonio said today this is especially important for neighbouring States when an arms embargo and a peace operation is being stood up. Only then will we effectively constrain the ability of terrorists and spoilers to procure funds, arms and recruits.

It is also essential that the Council continue to take more innovative steps to enforce the sanctions measures where violations are acute. We have done this in Somalia by mandating maritime interdiction of weapons and charcoal – charcoal alone has been giving Al Shabaab a financial lifeline to the tune of $80 million annually.

Mr President

There is also a great deal that Member States can do: ratify and implement the key international treaties on terrorism and transnational organised crime to provide a stronger platform for cooperation; better align responses to the nature and scale of the threats by making more effective use of UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) transnational crime threat assessments; and build technical capacity in law enforcement, border controls and criminal justice.

We would add to that, capacity to 'follow the money'. Going after the proceeds of crime, through the use of anti-money laundering tools, financial intelligence, asset freezes and seizures, can be as effective in reducing the incentives of criminal activity as going after the criminals themselves.

Finally, stronger bilateral and regional partnerships are fundamental. Strengthening intra-regional cooperation builds trust, facilitates information exchange, enhances capacities and eliminates safe havens for transnational crime. We welcome advances in African regional networks that we have been briefed on today.

We have seen this work in Australia's own region, in the Pacific, with the 18 Transnational Crime Units that make up the Pacific Transnational Crime Network having worked successfully to disrupt illicit drug, firearms and wildlife trafficking throughout the region.

As the UNODC has often said, it takes a network to defeat a network. We must strengthen our networks, use the tools we have to maximum effect, and keep pace – above all at the very least keep pace – with the rapidly changing nature of the threat.

To conclude, it is today axiomatic that terrorism and transnational crime are increasingly linked. It is imperative we understand this reality and calibrate our responses accordingly. This must be an evermore crucial dimension of the Council's role in maintaining international peace and security.

Again, we thank Chad for bringing this initiative to the Council today.

Thank you.

Last Updated: 5 June 2015
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