Opening Remarks – El Jadida

“as prepared for delivery”

Thank you, Minister-Delegate Draiss, for your remarks, and for Morocco’s gracious hospitality in hosting the inaugural conference of this important initiative.

A good morning and welcome, to this, the inaugural meeting of the joint UN Counter-Terrorism Center-GCTF Border Security Initiative.

Since 2011, the GCTF has earned a reputation as an effective, nimble, and responsive means by which countries facing the threat of international terrorism can come together to develop practical, human rights compliant, rule of law-based responses to counter the threat.

The UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) was established the same year to support efforts to implement the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and the GCTF is an active partner in furthering the Strategy.

In support of these efforts, UNCCT and the GCTF have agreed to collaborate, together with the Governments of the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco, and to co-lead the Border Security Initiative.

Therefore, it is most appropriate that we convene this inaugural meeting here in Morocco, which continues to demonstrate global leadership in the field of counterterrorism, from the campaign to halt the flow of foreign fighters to its upcoming co-chairmanship of the GCTF.

We are grateful to the Government of Morocco for its vision, leadership, and partnership, all of which are essential to our shared success in this critical challenge, and the follow-on to the border security conferences organized in 2013.

Across the globe, terrorist groups and transnational criminal organizations continue to illegally cross land borders to traffic small arms and light weapons, ammunition and explosives, drugs, contraband, and other illicit goods and human beings.  Such activity undermines States’ efforts to counter terrorism, restrict cross-border organized crime, and increases the vulnerability of affected populations.

To help develop effective responses to these challenges, and to support national cooperation on the issue of securing borders, the Border Security Initiative seeks to inform the development of a new globally-focused good practices document on border security.  It aims to do so through a series of workshops, focused first on the Sahel and Horn of Africa regions, and then more globally to discuss this pressing issue and its elements in greater depth.

During this two-day conference we will hear from experts and practitioners who offer hard-earned lessons and novel approaches to these challenges. We will also explore the challenges unique to the Sahel and Horn of Africa regions and learn how countries have adopted policies that balance security while promoting legitimate trade and travel.

As we listen and participate in these presentations, I ask you all to consider which sets of recommendations, good practices, initiatives, and reports can most effectively inform the solutions to the challenge of securing these borders through a variety of measures.  Common techniques we can expect to hear about include surveillance, law enforcement-military cooperation, physical barriers, patrols, information exchange, intelligence driven risk assessments as well as engagement with border communities on control and policing issues.

But we also need to be mindful that we are now working in an increasingly crowded field, and that the risk of duplication of effort and working at cross-purposes is high.

With so much going on, we must do everything we can to make sure that we avoid duplicating what others are doing while preserving our comparative advantage as developers of practical recommendations for civilian-focused, rule of law-based approaches to counterterrorism.  Advancing the solutions posed by the unique challenges of porous borders is one such way of leveraging this comparative advantage.

We can succeed through dialogue and information sharing at meetings such as this.

Thank you.