During a ministerial debate at the UN Security Council Wednesday, participants highlighted the importance of preventative measures in the fight against terrorism. In a statement that opened the debate, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the terror threat as “evolving,” saying “the new frontier is cyber-terrorism: the use of social media and the dark web to coordinate attacks, spread propaganda and recruit new followers.”

In this regard, the UN chief said pursuing and dismantling terrorist groups is vital but only one among many measures.

“We must complement security measures with prevention efforts that identify and address root causes, while always respecting human rights,” he said.

Guterres stressed the need to reinforce the “social compact,” including the provision of basic services and opportunities, particularly for young people.

“Most recruits to terrorist groups are between 17 and 27 years old. We need to provide paths that offer a sense of hope and purpose to our young men and women, including education, training and jobs,” he said.

Representatives from other organizations also expounded their positions. Vladimir Imamovich Norov, secretary-general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), noted that 360 terrorist crimes were prevented and 80 underground cells were eliminated in 2018 and that work was also done to cut off the financing of terrorism and the illegal flow of weapons and explosives.

He said that the conflict in Afghanistan must be resolved, and the SCO is activating dialogues in that regard. In order to combat the link between drug trafficking and terrorism, he said, a renewed anti-drug strategy is being implemented.

Valery Semerikov, secretary-general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), said the SCTO is seizing illicit drugs and weapons on a regular basis and that information technologies are being adopted to root out sources of terrorist recruiting.

He said efforts in information security must be further strengthened, as new tactics are constantly being developed by terrorists. Sergei Ivanov, deputy executive secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), said measures are being taken by the CIS to eliminate conditions that contribute to financing terrorist activity.

He said the CIS is also focusing on countering the spread of extremist ideas and recruitment by terrorists and most modern technologies are used to exchange information on individuals engaging in terrorist activity, identifying their locations and stopping them at borders.

The members of the Security Council, as well as some UN member states, delivered statements at the debate. Sergey Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, said all cooperative efforts should be enjoined without politicization and using terrorist entities for political purposes was particularly unacceptable.

Wang Yi, Chinese state councilor and foreign minister, said there shouldn’t be any double standard or selective fight and there should be zero geopolitical interest involved as well as no linkage between terrorism and a specific nation, ethnic group or religion.

Wang said combatting cyber terrorism must be prioritized to prevent the Internet from becoming a “safe heaven” for terrorists and the spread of extreme thoughts online by terrorist groups to incite terrorist activities must be severely cracked down.

Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa Naledi Pandor said her country remains supportive of counter-terrorism measures that focus on prevention and address the conditions that give rise to terrorism.

Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov said the priorities for his country include the prevention of radicalization and dealing with returnees who have been associated with terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq, many of whom are women and children.

Wednesday’s debate focused on the cooperation among the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security. The roles of the CSTO, the CIS, and the SCO in countering terrorist threats were set to be the subject of discussion.