General Assembly Security Council

UN Security Council Arria Formula Meeting

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the International Efforts to Prevent and Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism




Ambassador K. Nagaraj Naidu

Deputy Permanent Representative 


16 June 2021


At the very outset, we would like to thank Tunisia for organizing this meeting and to all the briefers for sharing their valuable insights. 


Mr. President,


2. COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted societies and communities around the world with far-reaching economic and humanitarian consequences. It is foremost a health crisis but has had a multidimensional impact on each one of us. 


3. The pandemic has also seen an increase in activities of terrorists and terrorist groups across the globe. Such groups have taken advantage of the fact that the attention and resources of governments have been diverted to tackling the pandemic.  Attempts have been made by terrorists to exploit the financial and emotional distress caused by the lockdowns to weaken the cohesiveness of societies.


4. Increased use of digital platforms during the pandemic has, unfortunately, made people more vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment by terrorist groups.  The increased presence of people online and on social media has been targeted by terrorists to disseminate hatred, misinformation and propaganda through hate speeches, fake news, doctored videos, and conspiracy theories.  In this virtual world, almost all of us have become increasingly susceptible to an infodemic.  India was one of the first countries to co-sponsor a cross-regional statement on Infodemic last year during the pandemic.


5. The impact of the pandemic has also made conflict situations even more vulnerable to exploitation by terrorists.  We are witnessing this in Africa where terrorists are increasing their range of activities both geographically and otherwise.


6. Terrorists and terrorist entities have also incorporated COVID-19 narratives to entice, radicalize and recruit vulnerable individuals. UN listed organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) have even masqueraded as healthcare providers, offering advice on hygiene, building quarantine centers and enforcing lockdowns, in order to gain loyalty of people and access to a new pool of recruits. Terror groups have also exhorted supporters to target security forces and health workers. 


7. The pandemic has also brought new risks to the efforts of countering financing of terrorism (CFT). In particular, fake charities, fake NGO accounts, and crowdfunding have become more frequent sources of terror-financing. Terrorist organizations have also begun to exploit the anonymity afforded by block chain technology for fundraising and finances. 


8. Preventing terrorists from accessing financial resources is crucial to successfully countering the threat of terrorism. While some states lack the legal-operational frameworks and necessary CFT capacities, there are other States that are clearly guilty of aiding and supporting terrorism, and willfully providing financial assistance and safe havens to terrorists. While we must enhance capacities of the former, the international community must collectively call out the latter and hold them accountable. 


Mr.  President,


9. For the UN system to credibly address the menace of terrorism and ensure effective action, I would like this Council to recall the eight point action plan proposed by India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar during his statement on 12 January, 2021 in the Ministerial meeting on 20th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1373 (2020) and the establishment of the Counter Terrorism Committee. He had called for and I reiterate: a) Summon the political will. Don’t justify terrorism. Don’t glorify terrorists; b) No double standards. Terrorists are terrorists. No good or bad distinction needed; c) Don’t place block and holds on listing without any reason; d) Discourage exclusivist thinking; d) Enlist and delist objectively, not on political or religious considerations; e) recognize the linkage to organized crime; f) support and strengthen the FATF;  and g) provide greater funding to UN Counter Terrorism Directorate.


10.    While India has proactively responded to mitigate the health and economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it continues to face the scourge of state sponsored cross border terrorism. Terrorists have been making innumerable attempts to infiltrate into our territory from their safe abodes across the border to carry out attacks. They have even used unmanned aerial systems to smuggle weapons across borders. 


11. To conclude, Mr. President, I would like to submit that while COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the resilience of terrorist actors and their adaptability to the new circumstances, the response from the international community should be unified, without any excuse or exceptions, ensuring that those countries which provide safe havens to terrorists and terrorist groups do not take advantage of the pandemic to either support terrorism or indulge in propaganda to further divide societies and communities. 


I thank you, Mr. President.