The Office of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Programme on Parliamentary Participation in Preventing and Combating Terrorism was officially inaugurated Wednesday in Doha by HE the Speaker of the Shura Council Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid Al Mahmoud, and the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov.
A first-of-its-kind in the world, the office which covers the parliaments of all countries, has been set up in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and an agreement between the Shura Council and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.
Addressing the opening ceremony, HE al-Mahmoud said the establishment of this office in Doha has come in appreciation of the United Nations and the international community for the distinguished role Qatar is playing in combating terrorism under the leadership and wisdom of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and his firm policy in this regard, irrespective of the source of terrorism and eliminating its causes.
"The close co-operation between the Shura Council and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism resulted in the signing of a MoU between the two sides in February 2019, and a subsequent agreement in November 2020.
"All parliaments of the world will benefit from the programmes and activities of this office, and it will be an important qualitative leap in the international community's efforts to prevent and combat terrorism, due to the great role played by parliaments by virtue of their legislative, political and direct influence on all issues of concern to the peoples of the world, especially the issue of combating terrorism," he said.
The office will undertake joint initiatives to support the balanced implementation of the four pillars of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the relevant Security Council resolutions in the field of combating terrorism and violent extremism leading to terrorism, conducting research and analysis, and carrying out work to support the prevention and combating of terrorism, including enacting new legislation around the world and helping to formulate model parliament-led counter-terrorism legislation, policies and strategies.
The office will also undertake major initiatives within the framework of the United Nations Programme and the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the role of parliaments in addressing terrorism and violent extremism leading to terrorism, because of the critical role of parliaments in preventing and combating terrorism and supporting the international conventions adopted in the field of eliminating this scourge.
The office will support the establishment of a global parliamentary network, creation and maintenance of a web platform, and production of materials, publications and multimedia resources to support activities to prevent and combat terrorism.
HE al-Mahmoud praised the efforts of the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov, and the great and fruitful work he had done in order to establish the Doha office to serve the objectives of the United Nations in general and the field of counter-terrorism in particular.
HE the Shura Council Speaker also lauded the efforts of the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Duarte Pacheco, who supported the initiative to establish the Doha office since its inception and was keen to continue co-operation and co-ordination for the success of the office's work and implementation of its tasks.
Voronkov, who spoke via videoconferencing, praised Qatar's efforts and leadership in combating terrorism and its support for the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism; and extended thanks and appreciation to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for his strong support for counter-terrorism efforts.
The Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism shed light on role of the Doha office, saying that it will provide a package of technical support and capacity-building programmes, assist parliamentarians in their efforts, and build partnerships with UN institutions, in addition to providing programmes on evidence-based research, empowering women and youth.
He said that there is an increasing recognition of the important roles of parliaments in combating terrorism and violent extremism and in taking preventive measures. There is also a strong demand by parliamentarians to better understand their roles and to be provided with means to complement the actions taken by the executive authority in this regard.
Voronkov added that legislators are integral components of the countering terrorism approach, which is recognised in the various resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council as the cornerstone of effective efforts to combat terrorism.
IPU President Pacheco, in his address reiterated the importance of Qatar in the multilateral international system and gave a detailed presentation on the role of the IPU in combating terrorism and violent extremism, and the Union's future plans in this field in co-ordination with the Doha office.
He praised the efforts of HE the Speaker of the Shura Council, which resulted in the establishment of this important office that will enhance the efforts to prevent terrorism and violent extremism, thanks to its outputs and its establishment of an international parliamentary network, an interactive map and annual reports.
The ceremony was also attended by the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Gennaro Migliore, Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Sergio Biazi, and Mauro Medico of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism. The latter underlined that the opening of the Doha office is an important and positive development in the international efforts to combat terrorism because parliamentarians have an effective and influential role in enacting legislation and co-operating with governments in this field.
The dignitaries expressed their appreciation for the role and the leadership of Qatar in combating terrorism, and for hosting this office concerned with parliamentary participation in preventing and combating terrorism.
The opening ceremony was also attended by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Rik Daems, the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Reinhold Lopatka, the Secretary-General of the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States Dmitriy Kobitskiy, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Achim Steiner, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Ghada Fathi Waly, and the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Michele Coninsx.
In their speeches delivered via videoconferencing during the ceremony, they valued the leading role played by Qatar in establishing this office, stressing its importance and its expected role in advancing counter-terrorism efforts across the world, achieving close co-operation with the United Nations and parliamentarians in all countries, addressing the challenges of terrorism and ensuring the required balance between the rights of victims and combating terrorism, through parliamentary diplomacy and the application of United Nations counter-terrorism policies and strategies.
The opening ceremony was also attended by HE the Deputy Speaker of the Shura Council Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Sulaiti, a number of their Excellencies members of the Shura Council, the Deputy Chairman of the National Counter-Terrorism Committee, and the ambassador of Eritrea to Qatar and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Ali Ibrahim Ahmed.
The ceremony was followed via videoconferencing by the heads of the parliaments, of the world's countries, Their Excellencies the ambassadors and heads of the diplomatic missions accredited to the State of Qatar, Their Excellencies the permanent delegates to the United Nations in New York, and Their Excellencies representatives of international parliaments.