Speech by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, at the No Money for Terror II conference, Melbourne (7 Nov. 19)


Madam Chair, dear Marise,
Thanks for your kind words and your warm welcome.

Ambassadors and representatives of international organizations,

I absolutely wanted to be here today because it is essential that we extend, all of us together, the efforts we engaged in the framework of the first No Money for Terror conference.

The threat we’re currently confronted with is real. And we need to tackle it with both determination and coordination.

The military action we’ve been undertaking for years directly in the field is efficient and has allowed us to gain important victories, thanks to our soldiers who risk their lives every day and some of whom have paid the ultimate price in these battles. But even if al-Qaeda and Daesh [so-called ISIL] are retreating, the threat they pose hasn’t disappeared: those terrorist groups have changed their strategy by remaining underground and are looking to take advantage of any vulnerability. We therefore need to continue the fight.

The meeting of the International D-ISIS coalition to be held in Washington, D.C., on 14 November will provide us with an opportunity to confirm our common determination to combat Daesh, as we combat al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in other parts of the world, like for instance in the Sahel.

But these military efforts will not be enough. This is the realization we came together to in April last year.

We also need to isolate terrorists by cutting their sources of funding. This is all the more necessary now that some terrorist groups have decided to renounce their territorial ambitions and to go back underground. Because territorial clandestinity will trigger financial clandestinity.

We shouldn’t be naïve: in this field too, our enemies have shown a formidable ability to adapt. They have long known how to turn trafficking, organized crime, and even certain conventional economic flows to their advantage.

What is new is that, as we were able to drive them from their strongholds, they have been able to take root in new financial virtual forums. Making use of all the possibilities offered by new technologies, they collect money by using online fundraising platforms, they misuse the ancestral hawala practice to transfer funds around the world and they convert their resources into cryptocurrency.

As you can see, the challenges we have to tackle together are great. And it is critical that we leave no aspect of the fight against terrorism financing aside. This was why France took the initiative to organize the No Money for Terror conference in Paris in April 2018 and to support the adoption of a comprehensive, international agenda by setting up a Paris Coalition against terrorist financing around 10 well-known commitments that I will touch upon in a few moments.

This was also what led the United Nations Security Council under France’s presidency to adopt Resolution 2462 on 28 March – a reference to guide the international community’s actions to fight terrorist financing.

And this is why we, members of the Paris Coalition, are here today in Melbourne to monitor the implementation of the commitments made over a year ago. Your presence here today, representing over 70 countries and international organizations, shows the strength of the process which we have launched and I would like to warmly thank Australia, and especially Marise Payne, for carrying on this No Money for Terror conference.

I would also like to tell Marise Payne how much I appreciated our vigorous plea for a common stance regarding kidnapping for ransom – another more traditional but yet just as dangerous source of financing for terrorist organizations. In this forum we’ve created, I would like us to be able to define a shared rigorous approach.

The adoption of the Paris Agenda’s 10 commitments was a decisive political act. We now need to show the same determination to ensure their full implementation.

Important progress has been made over the past year:

  • The criminalization of the financing of terrorism in all its forms is an obligation enshrined in Resolution 2462 of the United Nations Security Council, which also sets out the key normative role of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
  • The national frameworks for improving the collection, analysis and sharing of information are becoming stronger. Every country is making efforts – Marise Payne just explained how Australia had improved its organization. Considering the evolution of the threat, we need to improve our capability to ensure efficient and transparent cooperation between all the actors involved in the fight against terrorism financing. It is key if we are to implement the offensive strategy that is critically needed.
  • International cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence is being stepped up.
  • National and international asset freezing and seizure mechanisms are being increasingly used against members of terrorist organizations.

We have achieved this by working with humanitarian actors which had some interrogations regarding their own financing capabilities. And we’ve made sure to prevent any confusion and to reaffirm the importance for these actors to be able keep up their work, which is fundamental.

Despite this progress, we must continue our efforts against this unpredictable, ever-changing threat which I have just described. States, the private sector and multilateral institutions must all continue to move forward together. To do this, we must coordinate better by following with determination the priorities set out in Paris over a year ago, and which remain fully relevant. This is the only way we can be equal to the challenge facing us.

At this stage, I would like to highlight two priorities which appear critical and especially urgent for our action. The first is to prevent new technologies being used to finance terrorism. To do this, all states must implement the FATF standards to prevent the misuse of virtual assets as quickly as possible. As the major digital technology actors are announcing the launch of stable coins; we must quickly identify the risks associated with the growth of such assets, so as to prevent any misuse by terrorist groups.

The second priority is to increase international support for the countries with the least resources and which are the least well-equipped to fight terrorist financing. Because those are the weaknesses terrorist groups will use to find the funds they can’t find elsewhere any more. This is all the more necessary as it is often these countries which bear the brunt of the terrorist threat, and which pay the highest price.

I therefore call on the best equipped states, including France which needs to make some efforts of its own so in this field, to build on the work of FATF-style regional organizations and increase their technical assistance for countries which need it most.

I also call on regional and international organizations to accompany this effort by following the road map set out by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2462, which marks a significant step forward for our No Money for Terror international coalition.

Last but not least, I call on all of us to keep acting together. Our unity is more necessary than ever, as terrorism is being dealt some significant blows. Because these are just the times when risks of refinancing by new sources can be the most significant.

Thank you for your attention./.