Belgium and the other EU Member States adopt new Council conclusions on the fight against terrorism

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense Philippe Goffin welcomes the adoption of new conclusions of the Council of the European Union concerning the external dimension of preventing and combating terrorism and violent extremism on Monday, June 15. The fight against terrorism is a priority of Belgian foreign policy, both for international security and for the Security of our fellow citizens. It is also one of the central themes of our mandate as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the years 2019 and 2020. Belgium defends a global and inclusive approach in its fight against the scourge of terrorism and is delighted by the fact that this is fully reflected in these conclusions.

These new conclusions, in addition to those adopted in 2015 and 2017, strengthen and adapt the EU’s tools for action in the field of counterterrorism to the evolving threat and phenomena that we must combat. They take into account the successes that we have known in recent years, such as the territorial defeat of Daesh, but also new challenges such as the rise of instability in regions of Africa and Asia, the increased use of the internet by terrorist organizations or the threat from right-wing extremism. The text also calls on member states to take into account the consequences of the COVID19 epidemic and to prevent terrorists from profiting from the health crisis.

The tools which enable the European Union to work on a daily basis to prevent terrorism and violent extremism are also reinforced. This is the case with the network of European counter-terrorism experts that Belgium fully supports. These European experts, including three from Belgium at present, are working to strengthen local partnerships and collaboration between the various actors involved in law enforcement measures as well as prevention.

While condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, the Belgian authorities are convinced that the fight against terrorism can only be done with full respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. In this regard, we welcome the inclusion in the text of the possible negative consequences of measures taken to combat terrorism on human rights and the activities of humanitarian organizations, as well as the EU's commitment to preserve the humanitarian space - including through the development of best practices and the adoption of mitigating measures. Belgium is engaged in this debate both within the European Union and in other fora such as the United Nations. The subject was thus addressed at ministerial level during a high-level event co-organized by Belgium in the margin of the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2019 as well as last week during a parallel event co- organized by our permanent representation in New York as part of the humanitarian affairs segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).