Last Friday, after more than a year of tense negotiations, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted a Global Counter Terrorism Strategy. The strategy is as ambitious as it sounds, and the fact that it passed at all is a huge accomplishment.
For the better part of the year, it seemed that the Assembly would not be able to generate this kind of document as there were deep divisions among member states over how to classify terrorism and terrorist acts. But in the end, it was another feather in the cap for General Assembly President Jan Elliason who oversaw the unanimous passage of the resolution.
To be sure, the plan includes the kind of generalized language that one would expect to find when 192 countries must seek common ground on a contentious issue. Nevertheless, individual features of the plan could yield some important breakthroughs. For example, it details measures to build states’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism, such as lending international support to less developed countries to implement measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. It also calls for the U.N. to play a greater operational role in the struggle against terrorism by, among other things, creating a database of “biological incidents” that is complementary those of Interpol.
In all, the document spells out concrete steps that member states could take to collectively engage the struggle against international terrorism. It’s a fitting job for the world body.