Strategies for Countering Violent Extremists

Dec 5, 2014

Jean-Paul Laborde, executive director of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) discusses the role of the UN in countering terrorism worldwide.


JOANNE MYERS: Good afternoon. I'm Joanne Myers, director of Public Affairs Programs, and on behalf of the Carnegie Council I'd like to thank you all for joining us.

Our guest today is Jean-Paul Laborde. He is the executive director of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate at the UN. Hereafter, for obvious reasons, we are going to refer to it as the CTED.

For most of his years at the UN, Mr. Laborde has always focused on counter-terrorism, as he was previously the inter-regional advisor on crime prevention and criminal justice at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. In addition to his experience at the UN, Mr. Laborde has had many years of senior-level responsibilities in various branches of the French criminal justice system, including prosecutor-general and judge of the criminal chamber of the French Judicial Supreme Court. We are delighted to welcome him here today.

Among the many topics that he will be discussing, in addition to the work of the CTED, will be the conflict in Iraq and Syria, the national and international security challenges, and emerging threats, including those posed by foreign terrorist fighters and, most importantly, the UN's work on these issues.

I will begin by asking Mr. Laborde a few questions, laying the foundation for a more robust discussion that I will ask you to join in by asking Mr. Laborde questions you may have.


JOANNE MYERS: Mr. Laborde, you are the highest-level UN official dealing with counter-terrorism. Could you just provide us with some background on the CTED, why it was founded and its mandate?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: First of all, let me tell you that I am really very honored to be here today with you. Also, it provides me with a golden opportunity to exchange ideas with people of New York and people of the United States. This is always important for a senior official, whatever his or her position, to have this interaction with citizens, civil society, and NGOs.

I really think that we cannot combat terrorism without the society. It should be a grave error to try to say that "we at the UN, we the government of France, we the government of the United States, can do something" since this phenomenon is too huge to be treated only by governments or international organizations. That is why I am always delighted to work and to discuss with people who are, let's say, members of societies, especially in New York, since you had a terrible attack on 9/11.

By the way, the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council was created after and because of 9/11. That is the reason and the rationale which forced the international community to work more than it did before on counter-terrorism within the Security Council.

So why the Security Council of the UN? Because the Security Council of the United Nations is in charge of peace and security. That is really the raison d'être, to speak in French a little bit—but you say also that in English.

JOANNE MYERS: But you say it better in French.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: So repeat after me, the raison d'être.

I have this kind of attitude when we speak about terrorism that we have to still continue to live. This is probably one of the things that we have also to demonstrate to the terrorists and terrorist organizations who are still here. Maintaining what we have to maintain means our standards of life, our rule of law, our human rights, and what we believe in.

This is why the Council has decided, because of the peace and security agenda, to really move forward and to establish standards, in our jargon, the UN Resolution 1373, which is a mantra. It is a mantra because this resolution is really the origin of the work on counter-terrorism in a way that is forcing the countries to do something, because this is the very specific nature of these decisions of the Council to be mandatory and to force the countries to do something.

Just to take an example and not continue to be theoretical, you have certain laws in the United States. One of the elements of this resolution says that every country in the world has to "bring terrorists to justice." It is very vague. But still, all the countries of the world are obliged to do so.

It means so many things. It means, of course, to put your criminal justice system, but also your laws, in connection with those of other countries. It means that you have to adapt your laws in a way that the compatibilities between the laws are possible, between for example, France and the United States or United States and Pakistan, etc., etc.

JOANNE MYERS: That is a big challenge.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: It is a big challenge. But still you have to do that, because otherwise you cannot have international cooperation in criminal matters.

Why am I insisting on that? Of course everybody knows that terrorism has to be countered by military measures. But military measures are not sufficient. Why? I just mentioned that our countries have values and principles—rule of law, human rights, etc., what we know, and democracy in general.

I am from the countryside of Montesquieu, which, by the way, is a very nice place. The bust of Montesquieu is one of the things which for me is really touching because it is in Washington. In Washington in the State Department one of the main things that you can see is the bust of Montesquieu.

So it means something. It is rule of law. This is why I say if you do not apply criminal justice policies to these terrorists, it means that you are just defeating them, in case you can defeat them, by military measures. But at the end of the day they have also to be brought to justice. You know why? Because we cannot tolerate impunity. Impunity is something so bad for the people, especially for the victims of terrorism.

When we speak about terrorism, we speak about policy—it's nice to speak about. It is very intellectual. I would like to speak about terrorism as a phenomenon. But at the end, this phenomenon is mainly killing people. That's the point. This is why impunity cannot be tolerated.

So what CTED is doing, to come back to your question, Madame, is to try to help the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council to apply this policy. This is the raison d'être of our house, of our people, and this is the reason why also I am here tonight.

JOANNE MYERS: Right. So could you tell us a little bit about the ways in which the UN is trying to combat terrorism, what are some of the measures, and what approach have they been successful at so far?


First of all, what we do is also something very special. We assess, and the Counter-Terrorism Committee and CTED do the same. The Counter-Terrorism Committee is one of the organs of the Council. Then CTED is the executive arm of the committee.

JOANNE MYERS: The strong arm?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: No. It is an arm. Let's be humble.

The first thing that we have to do is to assess the counter-terrorism capacities of the countries and to make a report to the Council, plus to try to find the agencies—U.S. agencies; international agencies, INTERPOL, EUROPOL, your Homeland Security—which could really help the country when we have detected some weakness, failures, and all of that in the counter-terrorism capacities of Member States. It is unique. There is not any organ in the world which has the authority at the worldwide level to do that.

Of course our reports are confidential, because we bring these reports to the attention of the Council.

And then, what we do also—this is the second step—is we identify good practices. Let's take the example of the border now, because we have the problem with the passports of the people going to Syria and coming back. So we work with ICAO, International Civil Aviation Organization, and we say, "ICAO, please make sure that all the passports are machine-readable," for example. It is really important.

First of all, now all the passports should have a kind of electronic, magnetic, whatever, chip or something like that. And then it has to be machine-readable, in order for every border guard in the world to be able to say, "This guy is a terrorist" or "This guy has some suspicion to be a terrorist." So that's what we do, good practices.

But also, the third thing that we do is to facilitate technical assistance. This means that whenever there is a need somewhere, again on the borders—with the immensity, for example, of the borders in the Sahel. So you need to have very competent people to help these countries, which have no real structures, which have really very few resources for law enforcement agencies or border control agencies.

So that's what we do. We have, by the way, identified good practices here and there—please make sure that it is done.

JOANNE MYERS: Do you have other examples, in addition to the Civil Aviation Board, that have been successful?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes. For example, criminal law, as simple as that. The criminal law serves two causes: first of all, to have criminal laws which are compatible with the resolutions of the Council means that you will have better international cooperation in criminal matters; but also, we have to make sure that these criminal laws are compatible with the principle of the Charter, which means the rule of law and human rights.

JOANNE MYERS: Right. So what happens if a country doesn't conform?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: That is a very good question.

First of all, I would like to say that up to now—very lucky—we have not had any country which has said "No." You know, we have a very positive attitude. We do not do "blaming and shaming," saying, "You are very bad." No, no, we don't do that. We say, "You need that to counter terrorism. If you don't do that, there will be a hole somewhere, and it is not acceptable." So normally the countries accept.

There is also the authority of the Council. We have never had to, let's say, push up to there. But if it is necessary, this resolution—I speak about 1373, then after that we can speak also about the other one on the foreign terrorist fighters, but I don't want to go there yet—these resolutions most of the time, at least the first one after 9/11 and the one on the foreign terrorist fighters are under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, which means that they are mandatory, and, being mandatory, it means also that the Member States are eventually exposed to economic sanctions, all the sanctions which are non-military, or even the ones which are military.

JOANNE MYERS: But you haven't had to do that yet?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: No, at the moment we have not had to do that. The countries complied because we have this attitude—this is interesting.

I went to a country—unfortunately, I cannot cite the country—I went to a country in which there was no right of appeal for the people who were sentenced for a crime of terrorism. It happened that two of these persons were sentenced to death. They were executed without being in a position to exercise their right of appeal. Many organizations went there and they said, "It should be done," and it was right that it should have been done.

We went there and said, "Okay." I was asked by these people. They said, "What do we have to do to improve our counter-terrorism policy?"

I said, "The right of appeal might be some very good improvement, because you will have a better coalition of your people. That means, okay, this is really a rule of law, so it is better."

I spoke about that with the intelligence service. Then they said, "Yes, we will do our best." Two months after, it was done. That was really interesting.

JOANNE MYERS: That is interesting. But would that affect other areas of their law as well, or is it just when somebody has been accused of terrorism? Because you could change—

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: No, no, that wasn't terrorism.

JOANNE MYERS: I know, but—

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: The right to appeal was for counter-terrorist cases.

JOANNE MYERS: Just that alone, but not for other cases? Some countries just say "you don't have the right"?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: No, no. I think that it went well. It means that for the other cases it opened the way.


JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Okay. But at least you had for this case the possibility, because I said, "Okay." The death penalty is something that many countries in the world—you are in good company for the death penalty. You have many countries in the world which still have that. You have plenty of countries which still exercise this right. It is not against international law. But the right of appeal is something which is a right for everybody to exercise.

JOANNE MYERS: You said that you wanted to talk a little bit about the foreign fighters. [Editors note: For more on this issue, check out Richard Barrett's recent talk, "Forein Fighters in Syria."].I know that President Obama came in September and talked about setting a new agenda for that. So could you tell us a little bit more about what happened in the Security Council?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes. Foreign terrorist fighters are a threat for every country. It is not only for Western countries. The great majority of the foreign terrorist fighters come from the Arab world, especially from North Africa. Still, it is really taking us in a way which really surprises us so much. The threat is so huge and so, I would like to say, un-understandable.

Why do I say that? Talking for my country, a good person, a young person who is Catholic, exercises his religion from one week to the other, becomes radical, and goes to fight in Syria doing the most horrible things. The point is that it is probably very appealing for a young person to go and to fight for something because this person is disappointed by the society, there is no employment, and they need something.

Unfortunately, we had these young people in the First World War, or even in the Second World War, going, for example, from the United States to rescue Europe and they were killed there.

But at the moment things are moved and there is perhaps no appeal. The societies are disappointing for them. We have not yet been able to put in place—and I want to speak about that later—a good and solid counter-terrorism narrative. So these people are very excited. They go there and they are immediately requested by the terrorist organizations, like Da'ish/ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria], or Boko Haram to commit the most horrible things, to execute people.

JOANNE MYERS: Boko Haram is a bit different, though, isn't it?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Well, still there are many, many different things about that also. I have read many things about that. We can really compare now. That is really interesting. We can come back to that.

So what we need is, of course, to be in front of the threat. We have three letters: T-A-M—the threat, the authority, the measures. The threat—I just described the threat. Authority—there I come back to President Obama. We needed to have at the worldwide level a real signal given to the world that the cohesion of the international community is really real. So on the 24th of September of 2014 we had a summit of the Security Council, a special event, extremely rare. I think there were something like seven before.

Then the leaders of the world came to New York. That is the value of the UN. Very often, both in France and in the United States, they say, "What is the value of the UN?" We created this body together in San Francisco, so we did it. When I meet people here who say, "Oh, my god, the UN is good for nothing," I say, "Sorry, you created that. You have to live with that. And by the way, you wanted to have it here."

JOANNE MYERS: But it has been around almost 70 years.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Anyway, it is the only place in which we can have this gathering of the leaders of the world. The resolution is a Chapter VIIv resolution, which has an authority on what? On Member States, because it is the commitment of Member States to really say, "Enough. We will take in each of our countries, we will take in all countries, the measures necessary to fight terrorism."

It is not the UN Secretariat which will do the job. We will do something and we will continue to put the people together. But a resolution of the Council is a resolution for Member States, for empowering Member States, but also imposing on Member States measures which are necessary to counter the phenomenon of the foreign terrorist fighters.

Authority—what is new in the measures of the summit?

JOANNE MYERS: Good question.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: First, it is criminalizing the conduct and having again a normalization of the criminalization, the word, because it is a new phenomenon.

Up to now what did we have? We had immigration law measures. But immigration law measures are not made for that, they are not facilitated for that. They are not made for a country—a phenomenon which is completely new.

First of all, the sentences are too low. For immigration, two years, three years of imprisonment is not what is required for the foreign terrorist fighters.

Second, it does not criminalize properly. We say, "Ah, you enter a country, and to do what?" In the immigration law measures you never have something which says "in order to fight and to join terrorist organizations." No. So this is where.

With these precise measures, we can again have international cooperation among the various law enforcement agencies of the world whenever they are needed, once the military has finished their work or in between.

JOANNE MYERS: But did all 193 members sign on to this? It went to the General Assembly afterwards?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: No, no, no. That is the beauty of the Council. You do not need that. When the Council decides, the Council decides in the name of all Member States.

JOANNE MYERS: All Member States?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes. This is why we are so criticized, the P5. That means the five Permanent Members of the Security Council—the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France.

JOANNE MYERS: But the General Assembly itself came out with a different—they supported a new strategy at one point.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: No, no, that is something different. We will speak about that later.


JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Since we are speaking about peace and security, let's finish the agenda of peace and security.

This is why I said the Council, whenever there is a threat which is a really important threat, has to take action. Then it took action at the level of the leaders, at the level of the presidents and of the prime minister of the UK. By the way, if you look on Google, you will see my face just behind and beside President Obama. And I was just beside John Kerry.

It means that they express themselves in a way. They said criminalization; second, international cooperation; third, with all the means—it means intelligence, law enforcement, prosecution, etc. and of course, respecting the rule of law and human rights; and fourth, also in requesting Member States to implement measures on countering violent extremists, what we call the "counter-narrative."

The candidates, I would like to say, for becoming foreign terrorist fighters, what do they do? They go to the Internet, they go to Twitter or Facebook, and they are radicalized from there. So we have to be inventive enough to really create counter-narratives.

That means, for example, that on the websites of the terrorist organizations there is a glorification—"Yes, come with us, you will see, you will fight against this damn society, the West, this, that." Nobody says, of course, that you will be immediately obliged to behead somebody, to kill three or four people, especially women and children. Nobody says that. We have to say that. And to do what at the end? Just to be killed yourself because you become a suicide bomber or you become, let's say, somebody who has to fight in a way in which is quite obvious from the very beginning that you will be killed. That way is not enough.

The resolution had these four elements and the authority. Then, of course, now it is up to us to implement the measures.

Finally, what we adopted is the Council has requested the Counter-Terrorism Committee and us to identify the gaps in the countries. So, okay, you have the resolution here. What do you do?

First what you have to do is to say, "Well, what is needed in the countries in order to comply with that?" So we have identified the gaps. We went through all the mechanism and the gaps are now adopted by the Council as identified gaps, which are lack of legislation, bad borders. Everything is really well done.

JOANNE MYERS: What is the next step after you have identified gaps? Who is responsible for making sure that—

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Now that we have identified the gaps, we will of course provide the Council with a roadmap on how to fill the gaps, and then we will do that. It is a lot of work, but we will do that. It is our duty to support the Counter-Terrorism Committee to do that.

In the meantime, we have another part of our Council which is called the 1267 Committee, the countering al-Qaeda and Taliban committee. The good news is Da'ish is now considered as under the possibility of sanctions of this committee.

The monitoring team which supports this committee is in charge of assessing the threat on a regular basis. So we get the assessment of the threat and then we go on the counter-terrorism measures, once we have the gaps in the countries which are identified, which is the case now.

JOANNE MYERS: I know this isn't exactly your area, but is the UN doing anything else to stop terrorism?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes, of course.

JOANNE MYERS: Maybe you could talk just a little bit about that.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Speaking about the 1267 Committee, for example, the al-Qaeda sanctions committee and to counter also the foreign fighters now, you can suppress the capacity of these people to travel and you can freeze their resources. That is very important.

JOANNE MYERS: Can you talk a little bit about how you do that?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes. First of all, if you suspect that people have the will to become foreign terrorist fighters, then you can say, "No, you can't travel," with no reason at the moment, at first. The reasons will be given later on, but at the very beginning you stop them.

Then, the big issue is not too much to see how to freeze the resources of these poor guys—

JOANNE MYERS: Yes. But ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]—

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes, to freeze the resources of ISIL—

JOANNE MYERS: To make sure that they stop kidnapping—

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: That is interesting. At this point, the freezing of the resources of ISIL—I just spoke last week about that in Paris. We are almost all of the same opinion. I want to tell you something on that.

You know that the difference between al-Qaeda and Da'ish is mainly—and it is also Boko Haram, by the way; Da'ish and Boko Haram are on the same way.

But let's speak about Da'ish. Da'ish has established a country. It means that there is a big difference between it and al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda commits a terrorist attack, as they did here on 9/11, and then the suicide terrorists are killed by nature, and then after that they do something else, they withdraw. For Da'ish it is different.

You know why I say Da'ish? I will tell you something. Nobody actually says IS. ISIL was before. But since they established the caliphate, they said IS. In Arabic it is Da'ish. I don't want to say IS because it means Islamic State, and this is a terrorist organization which is neither Islamic nor a state.

JOANNE MYERS: So Da'ish. That's very interesting.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: I mean, even if it is Da'ish, of course it means a little bit the same thing. But still I want to really cut off this—

JOANNE MYERS: What is the exact meaning of Da'ish?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Almost the same. But here it doesn't resonate the same. If I say IS in English, everybody will go to Islamic State. We should not go there. We should not give the honor to this terrorist organization to be Islamic first and state second. I don't want to say that.

We had a very good meeting, by the way, in the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council for promoting authentic Islam and all of that. So I don't want to say that. We have many imams, ministers of religious affairs, and all that, which are exactly the contrary.

But the weakness of Da'ish, to come back to the subject matter of the financing, is exactly its friends. Da'ish has now established a caliphate. That is a strength. But it means that at the same time Da'ish has to provide the hierarchy and the head of Da'ish has to provide all the people who are under its administration with food, with water, with social security.

JOANANE MYERS: That's what a state does.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes, normally a state. It is still a terrorist organization. But at least they are obliged to have an administrative structure. They have an army. The foreign terrorist fighters, when they are there, they pay them and they come back with a lot of money also, when they come back. This is what I also heard the other day.

And then we can see already some signals—let's hope that we are not making any mistake—but we can see already some signals, because of the attacks—by the way, the American and French attacks in Kobani, and also in Iraq, and the people are coming back a little bit on the ground and saying you can see that they don't expand anymore.

And then, you know this terrorist organization up to now was, let's say, surfing on the expansion. But if you cut a little bit the wings of this organization, then—Kobani was the first.

So now what we have to do also is to make sure that they cannot sell the oil that they have. Believe me, countries such as the United States, other countries in the world, especially I think the UK and France, make sure—not only the Western countries, also countries like the Saudis and all of that, also they are really included because they see the threat also for them now.

JOANNE MYERS: Right. But you also have to stop the kidnapping.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: We have to dry up their resources.

JOANNE MYERS: Right. Stop the kidnapping as well for ransoms.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes. The kidnappings are, let's say, very—

JOANNE MYERS: Not a big source of resources?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes, it is. But it is not as much as the oil. Of course, the resources that they got when they took the funds in the National Bank in Mosul—of course they had a little bit, $200 million.

JOANNE MYERS: Right, from robbing banks.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes. But to maintain the state it needs much more than that. So they have to sell the oil. Selling the oil is more and more difficult now. To sell the oil through the neighboring countries is difficult because of the resolution of the 24th of September and also because of the parallel resolution on sanctions. So you have the resolution on sanctions plus the one which was really strong in terms of the commitment of the leaders of the world. So it is more and more difficult to buy the oil of ISIL at the moment.

This is really good news because the structure is heavy and all the intelligence services that I meet say it will be difficult for them.

JOANNE MYERS: On that positive note, probably the only positive thing about the foreign fighters, I would like to stop talking to you now and open it up to the floor.


QUESTION: Thank you. I am Tyler Beebe.

In response to your comment about selling the oil, I don't know if you have read today's Wall Street Journal. There is a major article which indicates just how clever Da'ish is. They are producing about 50,000 barrels a day. They are farming it out at very cheap prices to local entrepreneurs, if you want to call them that, who have their own little—I've never heard of such a thing—processing units—and then they process it into diesel and gasoline and sell it for a 100 percent markup. What is going to stop that, though? In other words, I just calculated that that's about a million bucks a day into Da'ish's coffers. So, unless our fighter planes can go in and pinpoint those remaining production capabilities, it is a problem.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes, you are perfectly right. But I will give some optimistic elements because we have to also see what can be done. It means that what you say is obviously not resolvable without military measures, targeting the oilfields. That's for sure. This is why the French and the United States are targeting these fields.

But the point is that "Paris ne s'est pas faite en un jour" ("Paris was not built in a day"). It means that if you look back three months ago this oil was also sold outside of the territory of Da'ish, which provided Da'ish with much bigger funds. So now they are obliged to go—what I read this morning also in The Wall Street Journal is good news. It means that they are obliged to sell it to their own people now.

It means also that the price is not the same. Even if it is a very cheap one, and even with a very cheap price they go on with $1 million per day, it is probably much less than they had before when they were in the position to sell it outside of their territory.

QUESTIONER: That shows how ingenious they are.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes, that's for sure. They are very inventive.

QUESTION: James Starkman.

It seems to me there are two issues, getting back to the assessment of the threat, which impede the UN's effectiveness in this whole area compared to individual countries. First is that one nation's concept of a terrorist is another nation's freedom fighter. There are many examples of that—the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] in Turkey, in Kurdistan they consider them heroes and freedom fighters; or the Uyghurs in western China, an oppressed minority. Freedom fighters or terrorists? Well, they cut the throats of a lot of people. That's one thing.

The second is how effectively can information sharing be really done at the UN, where the politics of the Security Council members—really, there is a conflict there. Russia doesn't want to give all its information, its private information, security information, etc. How is that problem overcome, or can it be overcome?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Thank you for these two questions.

Concerning one day somebody is a terrorist and the day after or the same day is a freedom fighter, first of all, I don't think that now the problem is, I would like to say, so straightforward. It was in the past. But, you know, the world has moved into a new phase. We are not anymore at the time of the movements of liberation. It is not that. It is really a terrorist organization which established a caliphate, or whatever, but which has not any intent to establish a state, as it was, let's say, supposed to be before when we had these movements of liberation.

Second, you will be surprised perhaps that we have 18 sectorial instruments, legal instruments, against terrorism, each of them agreed to by every country that are members of the UN. They say that there are no political reasons whatsoever for committing an act of terrorism. It means that now we have a solid coalition among the international community on the terrorism issues—of course except for one subject matter which is very hot. You know what I mean. It is between Palestine and Israel. But this is another issue. This is a political issue, on the basis of which—even for this one, I remember some statements of Yasser Arafat saying that even, for example, the terrorist attacks in the Nablus at that time in Israel were not acceptable, while of course the restriction of the rights of the Palestinian people were not acceptable because of terrorist attacks.

So every country in the world knows very well what a terrorist act is.

On the second question, I think that the beauty of the UN is to trigger international cooperation. Being a judge in my country in the Supreme Court, I know very well what are the capacities of the countries and what are the capacities of the UN.

If you speak in terms of big agencies, no we are not a big agency. That is not the point. We are, let's say, putting the people together and eventually detecting bad and good practices in the countries, including in the research area.

But what is interesting is we will launch in January our institutes, universities, and academies network, more than 35, coming from various parts of the world, with different visions, with other sources, and we will put that in the Security Council together in order to have a collective effort and also crossing the various information.

Now, for the intelligence agencies per se, we have connections with them. And we don't pretend that we can do this job. This job has to be done by the countries. But what we can get is the alerts.

Take the example of Russia. Do you know that every year Russia gathers 56 countries in the world—many countries of the West are also going there—

QUESTIONER: Including the United States.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Including the United States, exactly—in order to see what the new trends are. They wanted at the very beginning to go more in-depth in terms of exchanges of intelligence. I said, "Let's leave it. It will not work."

But we have to exchange new trends. We have also to collect all the statesmen that are known in these regular annual meetings of the intelligence services. Probably we have also to foresee what will be the next steps.

We are not now in a world which has the big conflicts, fortunately, that we had in the past. But we have these conflicts of low intensity which are constantly going on. It means that—the [inaudible] authority is one of them, the biggest one now. I really feel that we have to have this vision in collecting our efforts to know exactly the new trends through our contacts with the intelligence services and also with the various institutes that are part of our network.

QUESTION: I am Galymzhan Kirbassov from Peace Islands Institute in New York.

My question is related to the last discussion: How is the implementation of the global counter-terrorism strategy and some other agreed resolutions going on at the regional level or at the national level? I have been reading reports that discussions are being very actively held at the UN headquarter level but it is not really mobilizing national governments or regional institutions. How well are they translated to policies?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: First of all, you refer to something that my host was discussing, which is the United Nations' counter-terrorism strategy. That is something in which I was involved in 2006. I was one of the people who supported the birth of this strategy.

This strategy at that time was a strategy adopted by the General Assembly, so nothing to do—of course something to do, but it was not the Security Council. So this is not a binding instrument.

But this instrument is also very important because it gathers all the countries of the world, and not by delegation to the Council but directly. That means that we have an instrument which was adopted collectively by all the 193 members of the United Nations. Fine.

This is the instrument which is comprehensive. There are four pillars.

One, on conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, which was a kind of very visionary instrument on that, because it is what we have to do now, these countries, to work on the conditions conducive, as I said, to the counter-narrative and all of that.

The second pillar is of course international cooperation that we do. That's fine.

The third pillar is capacity building.

The fourth, human rights and criminal justice.

It is a huge instrument. It is easier—this is why the Council moves more quickly, so we can really implement the things. But we have a good solid body now, which is called the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which is a composition of all the agencies working in the area—the World Bank to support the criminal justice capacities of the countries, the IMF [International Monetary Fund] which would look after the financial elements, the World Custom Organization, ICAO, etc.—all of them, including UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] and the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] for the aspects we have to do.

This body now has a huge instrument, which is called the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center, which has a huge amount of money given by—who knows?

VOICE: Saudi Arabia.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Saudi Arabia. So you are well aware. Congratulations, sir. You will get a bonbon at the end. [Laughter]

It means that with this $100 million they can really do something. It is also an amount of money, a portion of the money, which can really trigger the donations from other states, and some other states have already started to give money on the basis of that. One of them is?

VOICE: The United States.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Yes. A second bonbon.

QUESTION: My name is Joey Yockey. I am a graduate student at The New School.

I would like you to address why the United Nations Security Council always articulated counter-terrorism in criminalization and security mechanisms. I was happy that the gentleman brought up the recent article about oil and ISIS, because while he was mentioning the brilliance that he sees of Da'ish, if I can use that term, to me it shows that ISIS is taking advantage of the desperation of individuals within Iraq. So it is largely a development issue for in many ways the rise of terrorism.

My first question is why is counter-terrorism so often articulated in criminalization and security mechanisms and not in development?

My second question is whether or not you see the nature of the threat changing. As you mentioned, Da'ish, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, AQUIM [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb] in the tribal region of Mali have all suggested that they are state-building organizations, and whether that requires different mechanizations, both security and criminalization?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Good questions. Thank you for your questions.

What I always say is that we need a comprehensive policy to work against terrorism. I just mentioned here the measures which are the most preeminent, I would like to say.

But at the same time, of course, development, education and all of that, are part of the policy. But they are not specifically countering terrorism. They have to be there anyway. Development is necessary, and also the culture, the education, all the good and positive sides of the societies have to be brought there.

I am not sure that only these elements will allow us to counter Da'ish or Boko Haram, because now the narratives of these organizations are really—if you read the Qur'an perfectly literally—it is really to establish their power on a territory in imposing the literal reading of the Qur'an and still very bad reading—as we know because we were taught by the imams that, in any case, it should not be interpreted like that. The people who are under them—and I want to quote something on that—are extremely disappointed when they see them taking the power.

Going back to Afghanistan, I met some time ago a judge of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan, who had property in the Swat Valley, which was taken by the Taliban at that time. When the Pakistan army took back the Swat Valley from them, people were really so exasperated by the Taliban and disappointed by the fact that they imposed many things—beatings, cuttings, etc.—that they did not want in any case to continue to see such behavior. So we have also to know that. We have to know that we have to promote development, we have to promote many things.

And by the way, I am not sure it is completely an example, but I came back from a country which has already started after a long period of time of war against a terrorist organization to work on the development, on education, and it looks like it works well. So I am really on your side in saying yes we need that, but we need also the other things, because we cannot discuss really with these organizations.

QUESTION: Andrea Varadi.

Can you talk about the way social media is used very skillfully by radical organizations, in particular Da'ish, to radicalize and recruit, and what are the specific examples of programming that were done in the counter-narrative and using social media to counter the radicalization and recruitment?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: That is a very good question. I think that Da'ish—I read a lot of elements of literature on that—they are excellent. As I said in the very beginning, they propose something nice—you know, "engagez vous (engage yourself) in this and you will see how much it will be nice and you will go to heaven"—whatever types of things that they are saying.

We are not. We have to recognize that that is something on which we have to work. We are not good enough in countering this narrative.

First of all, it is probably also too much identified as "the West against them," while at the same time there are many countries in the world—120 I think—that supported this last resolution of the 24th of September.

So we have really to make an improvement, and we are working on that. Our colleagues from the Counter-Terrorism Task Force are really working on that, because it is really their portion of the work, because they are really in a positive mood. We are the bad guys because we are the ones who are more on peace and security and criminal justice.

But we are taking care of that. "We" means the countries of the world. I speak not only from my perspective of the countries' executive directorate, but I say we are pushing the countries.

We are trying to have the best practices. The best practices start—I just mention en passant (in passing) we had a meeting a few days after the 24th of September with Morocco.

Now you know Morocco, for example, has an institute to train the imams. Before they preach or they teach in the mosques, they are trained in a way which is a moderate Islam, or the authentic Islam, whatever you want to do. They have also propagated this type of training in Mali, in Guinea, in Mauritania, in many countries of the Islamic world.

Apparently, also now the people who are responsible at the Mosque Al-Azhar in Egypt are also pushing in the same direction in teaching what we call wasatiyyah, the "just middel" or middle way. It means the juste milieu. So that is something that we have to improve, especially with our colleagues on the task force.

QUESTION: Ann Lee. I teach at NYU.

Since the time you have been implemented—you said that your organization came about because it was a response to 9/11, right?


QUESTIONER: Since then, it seems that terrorism actually has proliferated. So it would seem that you guys aren't very effective. Has there been any consideration as to re-looking at how you are approaching this?

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: This is why I still have my job probably. [Laughter]

Your question, madam, is a question of the societies. It is not only the UN. By the way, I could say that the United States, France, all the countries of the world, have failed in, let's say, suppressing terrorism. That's for sure.

But you know we have also to think—and I come back to the question of our colleague here—have we done enough in terms of hope that we can provide to our young people who are here also; have we done enough in terms of putting together not only the economy, but the values on the basis of which again our societies are based?

I remember the words of a French poet who is very popular in France, Paul Valéry. He said in his introductory speech at the French Academy—I will translate literally but you will understand—that "Us, civilized societies, we know that one day we will die" ("Nous autres, civilisations, nous savons maintenant que nous sommes mortelles")—that we can die.

I feel really that if we gather together with the people of the societies—and I want to come back to what I said at the very beginning—with the media, with the journalists—each time I have an interview I say, "You are part also of the counter-terrorism measures." It is not only the security measures. It is a phenomenon which affects the societies.

This is the reason why I will continue to come to the Carnegie Council, organizations of this kind, to say that this is our job. It is not my job. It is not the job of the U.S. government. It is our job.

JOANNE MYERS: On that note, I would like to thank you, Mr. Laborde.

JEAN-PAUL LABORDE: Thank you, Joanne. Thank you very much.

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