UNITED NATIONS – Saudi Arabia handed over a check for $100 million to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday to help finance the U.N.'s center to combat global terrorism.
The U.N. chief welcomed the gift at a ceremony in his office and said the recent upsurge in terrorism in a number of countries and regions — most dramatically, the Islamic State extremist group's takeover of a large swath of Syria and Iraq — "underscores the challenge before us."
Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir, who presented the check with the Saudi U.N. ambassador, stressed that "terrorism is a scourge and an evil that affects all of us." He said it can only be dealt with if all countries and peoples unite to deal with the threat.
"We believe that the United Nations can play a very strong and very effective role in mobilizing the efforts of the world to counter this evil," al-Jubeir said.
"Terrorism knows no religion. It knows no ethnicity. It has no nationality. It has no humanity. It has no compassion. It has no justice," he said. "It is in violation of every religion in the world, and it is a scourge that must be eliminated through very strong and very robust international measures."
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called for the establishment of an international center to combat terrorism almost 10 years ago, and the proposal was adopted by 55 countries at a counterterrorism conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in 2005. The king pledged $10 million to establish the United Nations Counterterrorism Center, and it was launched in 2011 at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Al-Jubeir said the $100 million donation will better enable the center to provide the tools, technologies and methods to countries to confront and eliminate the threat of terrorism.
Ban said the U.N. General Assembly has encouraged its 193 member states to support the center's work, "and the United States, United Kingdom and Germany have responded to that call."
The U.N. chief also praised King Abdullah's "exceptionally generous" $500 million donation to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to Iraqis caught up in the Islamic State group's offensive, saying it showed Saudi Arabia's "sense of global solidarity."
The donations come months after Saudi Arabia stunned the diplomatic world with the unprecedented announcement that it was rejecting a seat on the U.N. Security Council, less than 24 hours after it was elected last Oct. 17. The Foreign Ministry accused the U.N.'s most powerful body of failing to end the Syrian and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts and to convene a conference on creating a Mideast zone free of weapons of mass destruction.