Counter-terrorism in Central Asia
Joint Plan of Action for the Implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia
The Joint Plan of Action for Central Asia was adopted at a high-level meeting held on 30 November 2011 by the States of Central Asia. It is the first regional framework designed to address the threat of terrorism through a common approach, based on the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (UNGCTS) and strengthened international partnership. The JPoA serves as a common framework of reference for the Central Asian region that identifies joint goals to be achieved and collaborative actions to be taken. It provides both guidance in terms of policy and in terms of policy-implementation and aims at facilitating comprehensive, holistic, and coordinated efforts by a broad variety of stakeholders.
UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy
The UN General Assembly adopted by consensus the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy on 8 September 2006. The strategy is a unique global instrument to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. The General Assembly reviews the Strategy every two years, making it a living document attuned to Member States’ counter-terrorism priorities.
Matrix of CT and PVE initiatives implemented in CA by UN agencies, regional and international organizations
Since 2014, UNRCCA and UNOCT have mapped out the activities of UN entities and regional and international organizations working on issues related to preventing violent extremism and countering terrorism in Central Asia. Over the years, the matrix proved to be a useful tool for coordination, information sharing, identification of gaps and cooperation opportunities among different organizations and Member States. A new version will be available in February 2022.
• UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact entities, including CTED, UNDP, UNODC, OHCHR, UN Women, RCOs.
• Regional and international organizations, such as CARICC, SCO RATS, CICA, CIS, CSTO, OSCE, EU, EAG.
• Other international and regional organizations and partners, including think tanks, academia, subject matter experts, the media, private sector actors and civil society.
Donors (in alphabetic order)
European Union, Kazakhstan, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia
UNOCT has deployed several personnel to the field (Ashgabat and Bishkek) to work closer with beneficiaries and partners in the region.
Towards a comprehensive implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia - Joint Plan of Action (JPoA)
In 2010, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) - former UNOCT - and UNRCCA, with financial support from the European Union and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway, initiated a project to assist the Central Asian countries in devising a regional plan of action to implement the four pillars of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (UNGCTS). This initiative spanned three phases between 2010 and 2021.
Project Achievements since 2010
- Adoption of the Joint Plan of Action and support the implementation of national counter-terrorism (CT) and preventing and countering of violent extremism (PCVE) strategies and action plans.
- Regular technical training courses on regional and national levels, among others mainstreaming gender and human rights in CT&PCVE.
- E-learning on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism in Central Asia for law-enforcement agents.
- More than 2,000 participants and experts.
- Regular coordination and mapping of CT and PCVE initiatives of UN agencies, international and regional organizations in Central Asia.
- More than 3,000 promotional and raising awareness materials and products with a special focus on human rights and gender dimension.
The 4 phases of the project
Phase I (2010-2011)
Phase I was devoted to the preparation of the Joint Plan of Action (JPoA) for implementing the Strategy in Central Asia. The JPoA was prepared based on a one-year consultative process, during which three expert meetings were held to review the four pillars of the Strategy, identify opportunities, gaps and needs and draw recommendations to devise this joint plan of action. Central Asian countries reached agreement on the endorsement of the JPoA in November 2011. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, with Uzbekistan opting for observer status, signed the ‘UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia - Joint Plan of Action’ at a High-level meeting held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Afghanistan joined the Central Asian countries later, as an observer, taking into account its geographical situation.
Phase II (2013-2017)
Phase II was devoted to supporting the implementation of the JPoA through five regional thematic capacity-building workshops on different pillars of JPoA, namely:
- Dialogue with Religious Institutions and Leaders;
- Engaging the Media for Countering Terrorism;
- Border Security and Management for Countering Terrorism;
- Countering Radicalization and Preventing Violent Extremism;
- Effectively Countering the Financing of Terrorism.
In addition, the project led to the preparation of a Mapping of activities of regional and international organizations operating in Central Asia under each of the four pillars of the JPoA in 2012, which is updated every year. Phase II culminated in a High-Level Dialogue on the Implementation of the UNGCTS in Central Asia, held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, on 13 June 2017, chaired by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The High-Level Dialogue provided an opportunity to review progress on the implementation of the JPoA in Central Asia, take stock of the strategic counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism achievements and challenges faced by the region and identify priority areas for the following phases of the joint project. The meeting led to the adoption of a second Ashgabat Declaration where countries committed to enhanced regional cooperation.
Phase III (2018 - 2021)
Phase III continued regional capacity-building and assisted Central Asian countries to adequately respond to emerging challenges of counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism in the region, as well as provided continued and coordinated UN System support to the regional countries in implementing the JPoA. A particular focus has been made on border security and management, countering the financing of terrorism and countering the use of the Internet for recruitment and propaganda online.
Phase III further added assistance in the development of national counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism strategies and national plans of action, such as National Strategy on Prevention of Violent Extremism and Countering Terrorism for 2020-2024 and the Action Plan of its implementation.
Phase III also began to focus on emerging issues related to the rehabilitation and reintegration process of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) in Central Asia as well as raising awareness of the impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism on the promotion and protection of human rights. In this regard, the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) in partnership with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) developed an e-learning course for representatives and experts from law enforcement, counter-terrorism entities, intelligence agencies and other relevant organizations. The e-learning is aimed at strengthening knowledge and increasing awareness on international human rights standards in the context of countering terrorism .
Within the framework of the project, in 2019, UNOCT deployed personnel to the field (Ashgabat and Bishkek) to more effectively and efficiently deliver the project. UNOCT’s presence in the field enables the office to work closer with beneficiaries, acquire a better understanding of national and regional needs, capacities, and expectations, and enhance the sustainability of capacity-building assistance.
Within the framework of the Phase III, UNOCT and UNRCCA prepared “Ten-year review on the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia” . The purpose of this review is to take stock of what has been achieved in the past decade since the adoption of the JPoA in the region, outline what challenges remain, and what new trends have appeared in the past decade.
The results of this ten-year review are reflected in the phase IV and in a revised version of the JPoA, developed with support of UNOCT and UNRCCA, and to be adopted by the Central Asian states at the high-level Regional Conference “Regional Cooperation among the Central Asian States within the Framework of the Joint Plan of Action (JPoA) for the Implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy” in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 2022.
Within the framework of the project of the phase III, a close coordination and collaboration was ensured with the ongoing UNOCT Global Thematic flagship programmes, such as Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), Strengthening Resilience Against Violent Extremism in Asia (STRIVE Asia), Countering the financing of terrorism (CFT), Prosecution, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (PRR) and other .
Phase IV (2021- 2024)
Phase IV continues to support Member States in the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia.
- To strengthen capacities of Central Asian States in developing and implementing comprehensive national CT and PCVE strategies and plans of actions and their consequent monitoring and evaluation.
- To build resilience among youth against terrorist propaganda on the Internet and hate speech by promoting education, development of critical thinking skills, media and communication literacy.
- To strengthen the emphasis on the preventive measures by addressing marginalization, social exclusion, stigmatization and isolation of communities, empowering women and the youth, including migrant workers.
- To promote a culture of tolerance and respect for diversity among ethnic and religious groups and eradicate discrimination and hatred as root causes of violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism.
- To intensify cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies, including through improvement of data sharing across the region.
- To further contribute to ensuring the regional stability and peacebuilding efforts in Central Asia by preventing the spread of violent extremism and countering terrorism in the light of the emerging challenges and threats emanating from the situation in Afghanistan.
"Returning home, rebuilding lives"
This animated video is based on real stories. It features the Central Asian experience in repatriating nationals and the United Nations support available to Member States that have repatriated or are committed to repatriating their nationals from camps in northeastern Syria and Iraq.
E-learning on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism in Central Asia
To support the Central Asian States in raising awareness about this important topic, UNOCT, UNRCCA, UNITAR, OHCHR Regional Office for Central Asia and UNICEF (for Module 9) joined forces to create an e-learning course designed for students and professionals dealing with security and counter-terrorism in the region. This 11-module course is offered in Russian and covers a variety of topics, ranging from basic human rights and counter-terrorism related facts to specific human rights relevant to the Central Asian context – and much more.
Handbook Children affected by the foreign-fighter phenomenon: Ensuring a child rights-based approach
This Handbook lists practical guidance towards such children while also taking obligations under international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law into account.
This publication is available in: AR | EN | FR | RU
Preventing Violent Extremism Reference Guide
This Reference Guide builds upon the available practice, and seeks to enhance the capability of Member States and organizations to direct and tailor the development of their PVE plans, while also providing practical guidance for stakeholders shepherding the process. This publication is available in: AR | EN | FR | RU