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Press Release: UN General Assembly approves creation of new UN Counter-Terrorism Office

15 June​, New York​ – The General Assembly today approved the establishment of a new United Nations office to help Member States implement the Organization’s global counter-terrorism strategy.

Adopting a consensus resolution, the 193-nation body also welcomed Secretary-General António Guterres’ initiative to transfer relevant functions out of the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and into the new United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.

As a result, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force Office (CTITF) and the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT), currently in DPA, will be transferred to the new office, together with their existing staff and all associated regular and extra-budgetary resources. The new Office would he headed up by an Under-Secretary-General.

In his report on this issue to the Assembly, the Secretary-General proposed that the new Under-Secretary-General would Chair the Task Force and Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre.

According to the report, the Office would have five main functions:

  • ​P​rovide leadership on the General Assembly counter-terrorism mandates entrusted to me from across the United Nations system;
  • ​E​nhance coordination and coherence across the 38 Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force entities to ensure the balanced implementation of the four pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy;
  • ​S​trengthen the delivery of United Nations counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance to Member States;
  • ​I​mprove visibility, advocacy and resource mobilization for United Nations counter-terrorism efforts; and
  • ​E​nsure that due priority is given to counterterrorism across the United Nations system and that the important work on preventing violent extremism is firmly rooted in the Strategy.

“The Secretary-General considers counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism to be one of the highest priorities of the United Nations to address a growing threat to international peace and security,” said his Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric in a statement issued just after the Assembly’s action.

“He therefore hopes that this reform of the UN Counter-Terrorism architecture will contribute to the UN’s broader efforts to promote conflict prevention, sustainable peace and development,” the Spokesman said.

For his part, General Assembly President Peter Thomson said “this resolution will enhance the United Nations’ capability to assist Member States in implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy across its four pillars by ensuring greater coordination and coherence across the UN system, and by improving visibility, advocacy and resource mobilization for United Nations’ counter-terrorism efforts.”

[Ends]​

At Ocean Conference, UN agencies commit to cutting harmful fishing subsidies

6 June, New York City – As the international community focuses this week on preserving the health of global oceans and seas, the United Nations agencies on agriculture, environment and trade are committing to the sustainable trade of fisheries.

The agencies – the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) – are due to announce the commitment today at The Ocean Conference, which opened yesterday at UN Headquarters in New York and wraps up on Friday, 9 June.

“Trade and trade-policies can facilitate the transition to sustainable ocean-based economies by increasing resource efficiency, improving the environment, enhancing inclusiveness and creating new green business opportunities,” according to the voluntary commitment.

One of outcomes of the commitment is the removal or reduction of harmful fisheries subsidies which are estimated to be as high as $35 billion.

The issue is “complicated and thorny,” according to the UN agencies. “For the majority of fisheries subsidies, there is a strong correlation with overcapacity and overfishing.”

The commitment likely involves requesting countries to provide information on what subsidies they provide and prohibiting those that contribute to overfishing, as well as potentially giving differential treatment to developing countries.

The Ocean Conference, which runs through Friday, focuses on the targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Governments in 2015. In particular among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Goal 14 highlights the need to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources to benefit present and future generations.

The commitment on fisheries is one of some 850 commitments made at the Conference so far. The voluntary commitments are meant to be taken individually or in partnership by Governments, the UN system, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and others, to support SDG14.

In addition to marking voluntary commitments, participants this week are also due to adopt, by consensus, a “Call to Action” to protect the world’s oceans and seas.

For day-to-day updates on the Ocean Conference, please follow this link: https://oceanconference.un.org/

UN Ocean Conference opens with calls for united action to reverse human damage

5 June – Opening a “game-changing” international conference on the health of the world’s oceans and seas, top United Nations officials today urged coordinated global action to protect the planet.

Speaking in the UN General Assembly Hall, Secretary-General António Guterres cautioned Governments that unless they overcome short-term territorial and resource interests, the state of the oceans will continue to deteriorate.

“Improving the health of our oceans is a test for multilateralism, and we cannot afford to fail,” the Secretary-General said addressing his first major UN conference since taking on his post.

“We must jointly address the problems of governance that have held us back,” he said, calling for a new strategic vision of how to govern the oceans and marine resources.

One of the main challenges, he said, is to end “the artificial dichotomy” between jobs and healthy oceans: “The conservation and sustainable use of marine resources are two sides of the same coin.”

He called for strong political leadership and new partnerships, based on the existing legal framework, and concrete steps, such as expanding marine protected areas and reducing plastic waste pollution.

Among other specific actions, Mr. Guterres urged Governments to allocate the promised funding for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, as well as

improving data collection and sharing their best experiences.

These works are supported by the UN, he added, which among its work, is building partnerships with Governments, the private sector, civil society and others, and working with international financial institutions to allocate resources.

Also addressing the thousands of participants – including heads of State and Government, civil society representatives, business people, as well as actors, and ocean and marine life advocates – was the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson.

“The time has come for us to correct our wrongful ways,” said Mr. Thomson, who hails from the island of Fiji, which is co-hosting the event alongside Sweden.

He spoke out against “inexcusable” actions, such as dumping the equivalent of one large garbage truck of plastic into the oceans every minute of every day, driving fish stocks to the points of collapse, and destroying marine life through acidification and deoxygenation.

“We are here on behalf of humanity to restore sustainability, balance and respect to our relationship with our primal mother, the source of life, the Ocean,” he noted.

Also speaking at the opening was Wu Hongbo, the Secretary-General of The Ocean Conference, who pointed out that without oceans and seas, where would be no life on the planet.

Mr. Wu, who is also the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, noted that everyone must work together – not in silos – to achieve the goals of the Conference.

The Ocean Conference, which runs through Friday, focuses on the targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Governments in 2015. In particular among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Goal 14 highlights the need to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources to benefit present and future generations.

The main areas of work at The Ocean Conference will be a political call to action, a segment on partnership dialogues and voluntary commitments. Hundreds of commitments were already registered by the time the conference opened earlier today.

Updates on the Ocean conference may be found at: https://oceanconference.un.org/