United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF)

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to provide the opening remarks this morning. Let me thank the government of Burkina Faso for hosting this workshop and its critical role in promoting peace and dialogue within the sub-region as well as its strong partnership with the U.S. and the international community to counter terrorism.

I also warmly extend my gratitude to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for organizing the workshop and its long-term commitment to implementing the human rights aspects of the Global Strategy. Finally, we must recognize the Swiss and Danish Governments for their close cooperation and important contributions to this project. I would like to begin by underlining the importance of your work here. Terrorism is not an issue confined to a single country or a single region. Terrorist incidents have increased each year since 2001, and they have occurred in places that were unimaginable just a few years ago, such as a Nairobi shopping mall or a residential neighborhood of Addis Ababa. But we have also had a great deal of success to prevent attacks by working together bilaterally, and through multilateral organizations like the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force. What is also clear is that we have much to learn from one another. Since terrorists are made, not born, they are first the product of their local communities and institutions, and the political, social, and economic conditions in those communities. Therefore, in order to effectively counter the spread of terrorism, our strongest tools are those links at the local and regional levels. These are the relationships between local governments, law enforcement and the people they serve in order to respond to terrorist attacks, prevent extremism from taking root, and counter violent extremist messaging. Because the countries represented here have more similar situations, histories, and in some cases even the same ethnic groups and languages, you may have more to learn from one another than from a country like the United States, where our response to terrorism has been quite different. However, I will share with you one lesson Americans have learned in our efforts against terrorism. That lesson is that an effective counter-terrorism strategy must encompass the full range of options: preventive measures, law enforcement, capacity-building, and targeted military action when necessary and appropriate, all with due respect for human rights.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sure that over these two days, you will share your expertise identifying crucial gaps to be filled and best practices for countering terrorism. I look forward to reading your conclusions and continuing to work with the international community to address this problem, which is one of the principal foreign policy objectives of the United States in Burkina Faso and the Sahel region, and one of the greatest security challenges of our time. I wish you all a very successful workshop and thank you for your participation in this event.

Thank you.