United Nations Security Council

Open Debate on Protection of Critical Infrastructure

Statement by His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations

United Nations, New York, 13 February 2017

Mr President,

Let us begin by welcoming Ukraine on its assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for this month and express our appreciation for organizing today's open debate on the protection of critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks.

Mr President,

Given the insightful briefings provided by the distinguished delegates who have spoken before the Security Council today, and in the interests of time, I shall limit our intervention to four key points, relating in particular to the need to take an integrated and coordinated approach in the protection of infrastructure against terrorist attack.

First, it is essential that efforts to improve the security of critical infrastructure with respect to the threat of terrorism be part of a broader, institutionalised part of preventing violent extremism and counter-terrorism agenda at the national level. This is only inevitable, given the complex and inter-linked nature of today's terrorist threats and modern infrastructure networks alike.

Work carried out on the basis of strengthening such protection will almost always rely on the strength of counter-terrorism efforts in other areas, coinciding with the aims of other initiatives aimed at preventing acts of terrorism.  Duplication needlessly undermines our national efforts and wastes what are usually limited financial, physical, and human resources.

Second, the need for coordination is especially strong for, small countries, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as the Maldives. Cognisant of these facts, the government of the Maldives has developed a robust institutional framework for taking a coordinated and whole-of-society approach to countering terrorism and violent extremism, through concrete measures and cross-cutting policies.

Last year, we implemented a state policy on terrorism and violent extremism, and are currently in the process of formulating a National Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Counter-Terrorism Response Plan as part of this policy. The implementation of these programs will be guided by the National Counter Terrorism Centre, also established last year with an express mandate to lead and coordinate the work of all state institutions with respect to terrorism and violent extremism.

A key component of this state policy is the development of programs aimed at safeguarding tourist resorts and the travel industry, which is a critical sector of our economy, and security programs for sea ports, airports and sectors of major economic infrastructure. These are focal points of policies for protecting critical infrastructure in any country, but their importance is only magnified for SIDS given their small size, geographic isolation, and limited resources.

A terrorist attack on critical infrastructure would be devastating regardless of where it took place. But whereas an attack, while tragic, would ultimately be local in its impact for a large country where such infrastructure exists in abundance, for a small island country that rely entirely on one or just a handful of such infrastructural facilities, such an attack would be systemic in its impact. For SIDS, an attack on a sole international airport, a sea port, major power plant, or water distribution network would not merely exact a costly human toll but cut off an entire people from their livelihoods, material necessities, or even the rest of the world.

Third, in light of the amplified magnitude of this threat for countries such as SIDS, that face considerable geographic, economic, or social constraints, capacity building and the exchange of best practices is critical if all nations are to be able to effectively respond to such threats. The Maldives is fortunate to have benefited from cooperation with international partners with regards to capacity-building in the security, healthcare, and public utility sectors in fields that serve to improve our ability to address and respond to these emerging threats to critical infrastructure.

Fourth, the transnational and increasingly multi-sectoral nature of contemporary terrorist organisations, particularly with respect to transnational organised crime, requires us to increase, at the bilateral, subregional, regional, and global levels, cooperation in countering terrorism and protecting critical infrastructure. Likewise, it means that we must improve the ability of intergovernmental organizations to assist in the coordination of counter-terrorism strategies, the United Nations first and foremost.

In this respect we must collectively rededicate ourselves to finalising the Convention on Terrorism, so that we may, at long last, be able to address these issues to be under the framework of a detailed and comprehensive international legal instrument. We need to deepen both our respective national participation in regional initiatives aimed at countering terror and preventing violent extremism, and our support for multilateral efforts on the part of the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations, such as the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. In this regard, we take note of the work of the Working Group on Protection of Critical Infrastructure.

Mr President,

Just as the threats posed by terrorism to all parts of our societies, including critical infrastructure, continue to evolve, so too must the methods with which we are to respond to these threats. This is, and must continue to be a collective, collaborative, and coordinated effort—for the dangers we face shall also be.  In this aim, Mr President, we assure you that you can rely on the Maldives' wholehearted support.

I thank you.