Statement by Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, on the occasion of an Open Debate of the Security Council on the issue of “Linkages between International Terrorism and Organised Crime”, 9 July 2019

Mr President,

We congratulate Peru on its Presidency of the Security Council, and welcome today’s important discussion.

We also thank the briefers for their insightful views on this subject.

Mr President,

Terrorism and Organised crime, including Transnational Organised Crime, are certainly some of the most pressing threats to international peace and security. We therefore welcome the opportunity of this Open Debate to further deliberate on the linkages between these threats.

We are pleased by the continued evolution of attention to this subject, including its consideration in various Security Council resolutions such as resolutions 2195, and 2462. Based on my country’s experience, South Africa has always held the view that the link between transnational organised crime and international terrorism is context specific. We do, however, support Peru’s call, in its draft Security Council resolution on this topic which is currently under negotiation, for a comprehensive, up-to-date study of the inter-linkages of these threats, to be conducted by the UN. As Peru has proposed, this study should take place with the contributions of the UNODC as well as CTED, the UNOCT, the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, and other relevant Global Compact entities.

We are of the view that a study of this nature, and its concluding report, would provide Member States with a solid basis for further refining our responses to these complex challenges, established from a common understanding of their global threat profile.  We firmly believe that the study will also provide a comprehensive picture of the deficiencies that exist to deal with these threats, including the need to address the lack of capacity, especially when it comes to data collection.

Mr President,

Whilst we feel it is important to expand on our understanding of these challenges, we are nevertheless acutely aware of their severity, and adverse impact on States’ resources intended to maintain peace, security, stability and to pursue socio-economic development. 

Mr President,

Those involved in transnational organised crime and acts of terrorism appear to be resilient, strategic and are adept in executing their operations globally, including targeting areas with weak law enforcement, endemic corruption and lack of resources to detect their activities.

The ubiquity of the threats of terrorism and organised crime, including Transnational Organised Crime, necessarily demands of us a collaborative, multilateral response. In this regard, we applaud the UN for its significant, on-going efforts, spearheaded by the vision of the Secretary-General, and ably led by Under-Secretary-General Voronkov, in his stewardship of the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism.

We particularly welcome Mr Voronkov’s “One UN” approach to addressing these common-challenges, which we feel is an essential element for a successful, multilateral response-effort that will assist to merge the focus of the large, complex, and often compartmentalised UN architecture that has developed around these issues. 

Mr President,

As I conclude my remarks, allow me to offer some general observations on how we might jointly be able to improve our common efforts to address international terrorism and organised crime, and their complex inter-linkages. Firstly, we believe that it is of great importance that our efforts to understand these complex challenges are rooted in engaging with the local communities and individuals in affected areas, whose first-hand perspectives and nuanced understanding of the conditions that perpetuate crime and terrorism, is absolutely invaluable in ultimately addressing these issues.

Secondly, that it is equally important that counter-terror and de-radicalisation programmes, are community-led and driven, and are representative of the population that is affected by these challenges, and ideally, should incorporate religious and community leadership, in challenging poisonous ideologies, and narratives, and offering alternative views.

These views are guided of course by certain fundamental principles which underpin South Africa’s approach to counter-terrorism, which are:

  • Our firm belief in the importance of addressing the socio-economic, contributing- conditions that breed terrorism, as well as organised crime;
  • The importance of ensuring that international counter-terrorism efforts are coordinated by the United Nations, as the most appropriate, representative structure, for coordinating our actions against this global challenge;
  • The critical importance of ensuring that counter-terror efforts are conducted in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law, and do not result in unnecessary casualties, which can further deepen resentments, and hatred, and ultimately perpetuate a cycle of terrorism.  

Mr President,

Allow me to conclude in reaffirming South Africa’s steadfast commitment to fighting the scourge of terrorism and organised crime, and its inter-linkages where these exist, in all of its various forms and manifestations, at national, regional and international levels.

I thank you.


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