New Delhi, 29 October: On the second day of UNSC-CTC meeting adopted the ‘Delhi Declaration’ listing the council’s priorities in combating the challenge of terrorism and terror financing. Even as members of the UN Security Council pledged their support for combating terrorism, developments in Ukraine cast a shadow with Russia and western countries trading verbal volleys over the drone attack against Russian naval forces at Crimea’s Sevastopol port.
Earlier, on day one, recalling the Mumbai terror attack at the UNSC counter-terrorism meet, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that the 26/11 attack will never be forgotten.
“We, in India, understand [terrorism’s] cost more than others. But with that experience comes the steeling of national resolve. Decades of cross-border terror has not and will not weaken our commitment to fight back,” Dr S Jaishankar said.
The informal session of United Nations Security Council (UNSC)-Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC) began on 28 October, Friday in Mumbai with a video on the Mumbai attacks and testimonies of some survivors of 26/11 attack. India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and UNSC delegates paid tribute to victims of the deadly 26/11 attacks in Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai.
However, the second day of the meeting started in Delhi. Speaking at the Special Meeting of the Counterterrorism Committee in Delhi, attended by the UN Security Council Members, the External Affairs Minister pitched for global efforts to stop possible misuse of encrypted messaging and crypto-currency by “non-state actors” and cautioned that social media platforms have turned into potent instruments in the “toolkit” of terror groups.
This found an echo in British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly: “Within the space of two decades, terrorists have gone from circulating crackly voice recordings from the depths of Tora Bora, to global online recruitment and incitement campaigns, to live-streaming attacks.” He added: “Online incitement has radicalised vulnerable people in far off countries, who have gone on to use rental vans as weapons of terror.” The imperative, he said, was to “starve terrorists of the finance and emerging technologies that will cause death and destruction around the world”.
UAE’s Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem Ebrahim Al-Hashimy reinforced this. “Terrorist groups are exploiting advances in commercial drone technology to carry out deadlier and stealthier attacks. Drones can now fly faster, carry larger payloads and leverage artificial intelligence and other tools to operate without manual control,” she said.
Cautioning against the internet serving as a “terror enabler,” Al-Hashimy said: “Extremist content remains on the internet with algorithms that promote the search for new audiences, making terror activity so appealing…hate speech, terrorist narratives, extremist language, disinformation, misinformation campaigns, continue to undermine and break down our social fabric. We must find ways to fast track efforts and strengthen regulatory and legislative frameworks to protect users, our communities and our children.”
Representatives from all 15 member nations of the UN Security Council attended the second day’s meeting in Delhi.
While discussing and presenting the use of new technologies, like drones and artificial intelligence, by terrorists, the national interventions, some of the UNSC members’ representatives inevitably referred to the Ukraine war.
The French representative noted that “on the battlefield”, states were “indiscriminately” using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in violation of international law, “like Russia against Ukraine”.
The western countries have accused Iran of supplying military-grade drones to Russia, but Tehran and Moscow deny it. The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky posed with a downed Iranian Shahed drone this week. He said Russia had launched more than 30 drone attacks over two days, mainly attacking civilian infrastructure.
While, the Russian representative blamed France and the UK for supplying weapons to Ukraine and held the UK responsible for Saturday’s attack on Crimean port city of Sevastopol. The Russian Black Sea Fleet was allegedly attacked on Saturday through drones, damaging one of Russian warships.
Delivering the statement, the Russian representative claimed that the West, mainly the UK, supplied UAVs to the Ukraine government.
“We share the concern over UAS being used in different regions. We know that Kyiv regime is supplied by those instruments by Western regimes, including Great Britain and France…a massive attack on the city of Sevastopol took place… with the use of UAS and with the direct participation of the Great Britain. Luckily Sevastopol city managed to react in a quick manner. We believe all of our efforts should be directed at preventing misuse of UAS by terrorists,” the Russian representative said.
However, The US countered this as its representative said: “I must respond to the false claims made by the Russian Federation which seek to deflect their own wrongdoing. Its aggression against Ukraine is illegal and it must end.”
During the two days UNSC -CTC meet, the session was also addressed by Gabon foreign minister Michael Moussa Adamo, whose country is the current president of the Security Council, Ghana foreign minister Shirley Ayorkar Botchwey, France’s special envoy for counter-terrorism Olivier Caron, Ireland ambassador Brendan Ward, Kenya high commissioner Willy Bett, Mexican ambassador Frederico Salas Lotfe, Deputy Head, Division for Strategic Affairs, MoFA, ISRAEL- Tamar Rahamimoff-Hoing, Member of the Federal National Council, UAE- Dherar Belhoul Al Falasi, Ambassador of Egypt in India- Wael Hamid, Ambassador of Egypt in India- Mohammed Maliki, Ambassador of Republic of Cuba in India- Alejandro Simaneas Marin, Ambassador of Syria in India- Dr. Bassam Seifeddin Alkhatib, China’s vice consul general in Mumbai, Wang Yanhua and Ambassador of Netherlands in India, Marten Van den Berg.
Diplomats and senior officials from Morocco, Egypt, Brazil, Malta, Mozambique, Yemen, Syria, UAE, Ecuador, Japan, Switzerland, Russia and Israel also spoke, with most of them focusing on the need to counter terror financing.
The visiting ministers and officials from UNSC member countries and the UN met President Droupadi Murmu Saturday. She said that India, as the world’s largest democracy, with one of the most open and diverse societies in the world, has been a victim of terrorism for decades. “She emphasized that zero tolerance to all acts of terror, irrespective of its motivations, should continue to be the guiding approach of the international community in shaping the global counter terror architecture,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement said.
-Dr. M Shahid Siddiqui; Follow via Twitter @shahidsiddiqui