Central Asian States Press on for a Common Front on Terror
Plagued with terrorist networks and cross-border trafficking of arms and narcotics, Central Asia is forging ahead to develop a joint plan of action on implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy to head off these threats. On 29-30 March 2011 counter-terrorism experts from the region and beyond met in Dushanbe to discuss measures to prevent and combat terrorism.
The Dushanbe meeting was the second in a series of expert meetings intended to review the Global Strategy pillar-by- pillar, identify gaps and best practices and propose concrete recommendations on how the region could boost its counter-terrorism efforts.
The participants acknowledged Central Asia’s vulnerability to terrorism given the acute problem of narcotics trafficking which essentially contributes to instability, criminality and financing of terrorism. Participants strongly supported cross-country cooperation in all areas, be it, law enforcement, border management, technical assistance, with political will as the central force to the process.
“In the struggle to prevent and combat terrorism in Central Asia, cooperation among States, institutions and organizations in the region is key to success. Not only should we ensure that the relevant legal and normative instruments are adopted, we should also properly implement, and support must be provided to states towards that end,” said Miroslav Jenca, Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) during the meeting.
Norwegian Ambassador Dag Halvorsen called for a balanced approach between preventive and combative measures. “An integrated and long-term approach to the fight against international terrorism must strike a balance between preventive and combative measures. If we fail to take a long-term perspective in our fight against terrorist groups today, we may face new, stronger terrorist groups with greater popular support tomorrow. We risk undermining our own goals. It can only be won by making use of a wide range of methods, including political, humanitarian, economic, legal and military means,” he said.
The Global Strategy takes into account traditional and non-traditional tools such, law enforcement, education, socioeconomic development, political inclusion, religious tolerance, respect for human rights and the rule of law and etc, a point highlighted by Ambassador Eduard Auer of the European Union. “The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy is a complete set of measures which must be implemented in its totality and as such offers an opportunity to recalibrate all efforts and develop more balanced responses to the threat of terrorism by bringing together security, rule of law, development and protection of fundamental values,” he said.
The discussion in Dushanbe focused on enhancing the implementation of regional and international counter-terrorism instruments; improving law enforcement cooperation for prevention and combating of terrorism; countering the financing of terrorism; countering the use of the internet for terrorist purposes; responding to attacks using weapons of mass destruction and denying illicit trafficking of weapons.
These are the challenges that only States are in a position to address, a point underscored by Muhammad Rafiuddin Shah, Officer-in-charge of the CTITF Office. “The primary responsibility to implement the Strategy remains with Member States. Only Member States know how best to implement the Strategy given the dynamics, priorities and realities on ground”, he said.
The meeting was co-organized by CTITF and the European Union with the support of UNRCCA and the Republic of Tajikistan. It brought together 61 representatives from the Central Asian region, neighbouring countries, UN and EU.
The first meeting was held in Bratislava, Slovakia last year. It examined the particular and prevailing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism as well as measures and practices in place to safeguard human rights and the rule of law while countering terrorism. The third experts’ meeting is slated for 21-22 July 2011 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.