UN Assistant Secretary General Michèle Coninsx meeting Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tangible measures to collaborate with UN mechanisms in keeping with international norms and practices took centre stage at discussions during the recent visit to Sri Lanka by UN Assistant Secretary General (ASG) and Executive Director of the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) Michèle Coninsx from 7-8 June.
The subjects covered included terrorist financing and asset freezing, dealing with foreign terrorist fighters, the counter terrorism legislation, countering radicalisation and violent extremism, effective border management against terrorist travel, and the threat posed by the internet and social media in spreading radical ideology and violent extremism.
The Assistant Secretary General Coninsx was in Sri Lanka at the invitation of Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, pursuant to a request by President Maithripala Sirisena to the UN Secretary General António Guterres on 24 April in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks, to support Sri Lanka in facing the new threats posed by terrorism.
The ASG paid courtesy calls on President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and met with other political and civil society leaders.
At an interactive dialogue held at the Defence Ministry co-chaired by Secretary Defence Shantha Kottegoda and Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha, following a comprehensive briefing on the action taken by the security forces following the attacks and future action contemplated, the need for a ‘Whole of Government’ approach to counter terrorism and violent extremism was emphasised. The meeting was attended by officials from the Foreign Ministry, Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies, Attorney General’s Department, Customs, Department of Immigration and Emigration and the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Central Bank.
It was noted that following the recent attacks, the Foreign and Defence Ministries collaborated in designating the three groups involved in the suicide bombings – National Thowheed Jama’at (NTJ), Jama’athe Milla’the Ibrahim (JMI) and Willayath As Seylani (WAS), – as ‘terrorist entities’ under Sri Lanka’s domestic legislation giving effect to terrorist financing and asset freezing aspects of the Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001).
The ASG’s visit also explored further measures that need to be taken for Sri Lanka to be compliant with international counter terrorism obligations under relevant Security Council Resolutions, notably Resolutions 2178 (2014) and 2396 (2017) on stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and countering violent extremism, as well as the importance of border security.
At a review meeting held at the conclusion of the visit, Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana received an assessment from the visiting ASG and discussed future cooperation with the Government. UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanna Singer, officials from the CTED and the UN Country team were associated with the ASG. Sri Lanka’s Permanent Mission in New York which has been coordinating with the CTED, will engage in necessary follow up from the visit.
The CTED was established by the UN Security Council as a special political mission to assist the UN Security Council’s Counter – Terrorism Committee (CTC), and is tasked with carrying out the policy decisions of the CTC, conduct expert assessments of Member States and facilitate counter-terrorism technical assistance to countries.