ASRC – Session V. Transnational Threats: Current and Future Trends in the OSCE Area and Beyond

Annual Security Review Conference Working Session V: Transnational Threats: Current and Future Trends in the OSCE Area and Beyond

As delivered by Political Counselor Gregory Macris
Vienna, June 28, 2018

Transnational threats are a challenge for the OSCE and for all of our governments individually, so we welcome this discussion at the ASRC.  I will concentrate my remarks on terrorism, however, since counterterrorism efforts are among the top national security priorities for the United States. The U.S. has pioneered a number of cutting-edge CT tools to secure our borders and keep our people safe, and we have been working closely with our partners to develop strategies for cooperation. By their very nature, transnational threats cut across borders and regional boundaries. So too must our responses.

The success of the Coalition to defeat ISIS on the battlefield has not ended that fight.  How can we address the threat of returning and captured foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and their families?  As many as 40,000 FTFs traveled to the conflict zone since 2011 from over 100 countries. We encourage our international partners to provide prior notification when deporting detained fighters, as well as when they repatriate and prosecute their foreign terrorist fighter citizens.

Accompanying terrorist fighter family members pose unique challenges; they may be perpetrators of violence, victims, or both.  The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) Families Initiative, co-led by the Netherlands and the United States, is creating a set of non-binding good practices to address the potential challenge posed by foreign terrorist fighter family members.  This document will be put forward for endorsement at the GCTF Ministerial Meeting in September, and I encourage OSCE member States to use it as a framework for shaping policy and tailoring existing tools to deal with FTFs and their families.

Homegrown terrorists are carrying out attacks far away from the battlefield.  The use of social media by ISIS has expanded its reach, allowing the group to radicalize others to violence and to give advice on how to conduct attacks. The global community needs to improve our ability to counter these homegrown terrorists.  We must strengthen programs such as the OSCE’s Women in Security and #UnitedCVE, thereby reducing the ability of terrorists to radicalize, recruit, mobilize, and inspire others to commit acts of violence.

Terrorists are also attacking public spaces and soft targets, like hotels and resorts.  Public-private partnerships, including regular information-sharing with industry and the public, can make a difference.

Terrorist travel is an important challenge.  Adopted unanimously in December of last year, UNSCR 2396 requires all UN members to collect and use data to stop terrorist travel.  These tools include the use and analysis of Advance Passenger Information, Passenger Name Records, and biometric data. These tools are critical in preventing the movement of ISIS fighters and other terrorists across the globe. We urge all OSCE participating States to adopt these tools as soon as possible and commend the OSCE’s efforts to assist States in doing so.  Finally, we need to work together and with other international partners to further increase access to relevant INTERPOL databases which assist in tracking and targeting returning foreign terrorist fighters and other terrorist operatives.

Cyber vulnerabilities are another concern we all share.  The United States fully supports the Chair’s goal of encouraging OSCE participating States to operationalize the OSCE’s groundbreaking cyber confidence-building measures (CBMs).  The CBMs are a key component in our vision of a stability framework that would help reduce the risk of misperception, escalation, and conflict stemming from the use of information and communications technologies.

Colleagues, protecting and advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms in our fight against transnational threats, including terrorism, does not cause vulnerability and insecurity.  To the contrary, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms remains our greatest reservoir of strength and stability. We look forward to working with the OSCE to craft initiatives that promote these values and help build resilient communities that can seize the opportunities to confront the challenges that we collectively face.

Thank you, Madam.