Unanimously adopting a resolution today that featured a new framework developed by its Counter-Terrorism Committee, the Security Council urged Member States to follow a number of concrete guidelines aimed at countering the narratives used by terrorist groups and amplifying positive and credible alternatives to audiences vulnerable to extremist messages.
By the text, resolution 2354 (2017), which was co-sponsored by nearly 60 delegations, the Council welcomed the Committee’s “Comprehensive International Framework to Counter Terrorist Narratives” (document S/2017/375), submitted pursuant to a 2016 presidential statement (see Press Release SC/12355 of 11 May 2016). While urging Member States to follow the guidelines set out in the text, they were also called upon to respect the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, including respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States.
Noting that Member States themselves bore the primary responsibility in countering terrorist acts and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, the Council encouraged greater coordination and coherence with donors and recipients of counter-terrorism capacity-building. In addition, counter-narrative measures needed to be tailored to the specific circumstances of different contexts. States should consider undertaking efforts aimed at raising public awareness on the issue, amplifying positive counter-narratives and continuing research into the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism.
Further by the resolution’s terms, the Council requested the Counter-Terrorism Committee to compile existing good practices in countering terrorist narratives and maintain an up-to-date list of relevant national, regional and global initiatives, while directing it, with the support of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, to hold at least one annual review meeting on counter-narratives and make recommendations to Member States on how to build capacity in that area.
Following the adoption, a number of Council members pointed out that the text built upon a number of previous Council resolutions while “fortifying” them with concrete recommendations. In addition, delegates commended the text’s flexibility in encouraging States to design counter-narrative policies tailored to their own needs.
“What we’re doing today is not simply adopting another document to join the pile,” said Egypt’s representative, who also chairs the Counter-Terrorism Committee. Terrorist groups used narratives and ideologies to mobilize youth and justify their acts as “self-sacrifices”. Noting that a small group of States continued to violate resolutions by supporting terrorism, he stressed that the Council must deliver a message to the world and to terrorists that they were “simply dust in the eyes of humanity”, representing no religion, and were ultimately “doomed to disappear”.
The Russian Federation’s representative, recalling that recent victims of terrorism included civilians in Saint Petersburg and Manchester, pointed out that the resolution highlighted the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, including the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of States. However, he warned that such violations would play into the hands of terrorists.
Ethiopia’s representative also underscored the need to fully respect the principle of non-interference in the affairs of States, in particular as countries developed and executed their counter-narrative measures. The text would help facilitate greater cooperation in countering terrorist narratives, while providing concrete guidance and highlighting the important role of education.
Also speaking were representatives of Sweden, Kazakhstan, Senegal and Uruguay.
The meeting began at 10:19 a.m. and ended at 10:45 a.m.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) emphasized that countering extremist narratives was critical in combating international terrorism, particularly in regards to narratives and ideologies that mobilized youth and justified acts as “self-sacrifices”. “What we’re doing today is not simply adopting another document to join the pile” of those already adopted by the Council, he said, underscoring a number of concrete recommendations included in the text. However, while the text reflected the unified will of the intentional community, there remained a small group of States that continued to violate Council resolutions by supporting terrorism. Pointing out how such narratives provided an “ideological cover” he noted that the path to combat it must be a decisive one. The Council must deliver a message to the world and to terrorists that they were “simply dust in the eyes of humanity”, and representing no religion, were ultimately “doomed to disappear”.
IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) welcomed the adoption of the resolution, stressing that more research was needed on which strategies yielded results. Public-private partnerships in the development of strategies and approaches should be encouraged, as Governments were not always the best originator of those messages. As well, freedom of information and freedom of expression were essential to foster critical thinking and make societies resilient to terrorist propaganda.
EVGENY ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation), recalling that recent victims of terrorism included civilians in Saint Petersburg and Manchester, emphasized that “this is a targeted ideology”. Groups, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Nusrah Front continued to use social media and other technologies to perpetuate their activities. The resolution, which contained the framework proposed by the Counter-Terrorism Committee, highlighted the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, including the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of States, as such violations played into the hands of terrorists. Calling for greater attention at the global level to bolster deterrent comprehensive law enforcement measures, he said the Committee’s new framework would allow the Council to better understand the tasks before it. Improvements to the Council’s legal tool-kits, including sanctions criteria and efforts to combat terrorist financing, would not run counter to the text’s aims, but rather complement them.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), noting the many past measures already adopted, stressed that such frameworks needed to adapt to the phenomenon’s rapidly evolving methods. In particular, the propagation of fallacious narratives — including through information and communication technology (ICT), such as social media — had recently been used to recruit supporters and foreign fighter and secure finances. The Committee’s new framework prominent in today’s resolution included important concrete guidelines, while strengthening the transitory provisions laid out in previous resolutions. The text would help facilitate greater cooperation in countering terrorist narratives and highlight the important role of education. It would also call on Member States to respect the principle of non-interference in the affairs of other States as they developed and executed counter-narrative measures.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said the resolution was well-balanced and comprehensive. As a multicultural and multi-ethnic country with a Muslim majority, his Government believed in giving everyone a voice, especially minority groups. Counter-narratives addressed to vulnerable groups would lead to de‑radicalization of individuals and their return to society.
GORGUI CISS (Senegal) noted that he would have liked a more inclusive process on negotiations for the draft. Nonetheless, he said he looked forward to effective implementation of the resolution, pointing out that his country was in a region facing violent extremism. Violent narratives were based on a fallacious interpretation of religion that was far from the truth, he added.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), Council President for May, spoke in his national capacity, saying that refuting terrorist narratives was a fundamental aspect of countering terrorism and violent extremism. The resolution was a basis for developing counter-terrorist narratives in line with best practices as set out in the concept note annexed to his letter to the Secretary-General on “protection of civilians and medical care in armed conflict” (document S/2017/365).
The full text of resolution 2354 (2017) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 2178 (2014) and the statement of its President (S/PRST/2016/6) of 11 May 2016,
“Affirming its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,
“Reaffirming its commitment to sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,
“Stressing that terrorism in all forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed,
“Emphasizing that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization,
“Stressing that terrorism can only be defeated by a sustained and comprehensive approach involving the active participation and collaboration of all States and international and regional organizations to impede, impair, isolate and incapacitate the terrorist threat,
“Urging Member States and the United Nations system to take measures, pursuant to international law, to address all drivers of violent extremism conducive to terrorism, both internal and external, in a balanced manner as set out in the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy,
“Recalling the measures aimed at countering violent extremism in order to prevent terrorism, as outlined in resolution 2178 (2014),
“Stressing also that States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, and should adopt such measures in accordance with international law, in particular international human rights law, refugee law and humanitarian law,
“Reaffirming that acts, methods, and practices of terrorism are contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations and that financing, planning and inciting terrorist acts and supporting terrorist organizations are also contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations,
“Recalling the right to freedom of expression, reflected in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly in 1948 (‘the Universal Declaration’), and recalling also the right to freedom of expression in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the General Assembly in 1966 (ICCPR) and that any restrictions thereon shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary on the grounds set out in paragraph 3 of Article 19 of the ICCPR,
“Condemning in the strongest terms the incitement of terrorist acts and repudiating attempts at the justification or glorification (apologie) of terrorist acts that may incite further terrorist acts,
“Stressing the importance of the role of the media, civil and religious society, the business community and educational institutions in those efforts to enhance dialogue and broaden understanding, and in promoting tolerance and coexistence, and in fostering an environment which is not conducive to incitement of terrorism, as well as in countering terrorist narratives,
“Noting with concern that terrorist craft distorted narratives that are based on the misinterpretation and misrepresentation of religion to justify violence, which are utilized to recruit supporters and foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), mobilize resources and garner support from sympathizers, in particular by exploiting information and communications technologies, including through the Internet and social media,
“Noting as well the urgent need to globally counter the activities of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities to incite and recruit to commit terrorist acts and recalling, in this regard and as reflected in the statement of its President S/PRST/2016/6, its request to the Counter-Terrorism Committee to present a proposal to the Security Council for a “comprehensive international framework” to effectively counter, in compliance with international law, the ways that ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities use their narratives to encourage, motivate, and recruit others to commit terrorist acts,
“1. Welcomes its document entitled ‘Comprehensive International Framework to Counter Terrorist Narratives’ (document S/2017/375) with recommended guidelines and good practices to effectively counter the ways that ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities use their narratives to encourage, motivate and recruit others to commit terrorist acts;
“2. Stresses that Member States and all relevant United Nations entities should follow the subsequent guidelines while implementing the Comprehensive International Framework:
(a) United Nations action in the field of countering terrorist narratives should be based on the United Nations Charter, including the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States;
(b) Member States have the primary responsibility in countering terrorist acts and violent extremism conducive to terrorism;
(c) Relevant United Nations entities should ensure greater coordination and coherence with donors and recipients of counter-terrorism capacity-building, taking into account national perspectives, and with a view to strengthening national ownership;
(d) To be more effective, counter-narrative measures and programs should be tailored to the specific circumstances of different contexts on all levels;
(e) All measures taken by Member States to counter terrorism, including to counter terrorist narratives, must comply with their obligations under international law, including international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law;
(f) Efforts to counter terrorist narratives can benefit through engagement with a wide range of actors, including youth, families, women, religious, cultural and education leaders, and other concerned groups of civil society;
(g) States should consider supporting the efforts aimed at raising public awareness regarding counter terrorist narratives through education and media, including through dedicated educational programs to pre-empt youth acceptance of terrorist narratives;
(h) The importance of promoting enhanced dialogue and broadened understanding among societies;
(i) States should consider engaging, where appropriate, with religious authorities and community leaders, that have relevant expertise in crafting and delivering effective counter-narratives, in countering narratives used by terrorists and their supporters;
(j) Counter-narratives should aim not only to rebut terrorists’ messages, but also to amplify positive narratives, to provide credible alternatives and address issues of concern to vulnerable audiences who are subject to terrorist narratives;
(k) Counter-narratives should take into account the gender dimension, and narratives should be developed that address specific concerns and vulnerabilities of both men and women;
(l) Continued research into the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism is necessary in order to develop more focused counter-narrative programmes;
“3. Directs the Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC), with the support of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), and in consultation with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) and other key actors, to facilitate international cooperation to implement the Comprehensive International Framework;
“4. Requests the Counter-Terrorism Committee, in this regard, to:
(a) Continue to identify and compile existing good practices in countering terrorist narratives, in coordination with the CTITF office, the CTITF Working Group on Communications, and where appropriate, in consultation with other relevant non-United Nations entities;
(b) Continue to review legal measures taken by States to enhance implementation of Security Council resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005) and 2178 (2014), and propose ways to strengthen international cooperation;
(c) Work with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other relevant United Nations agencies, through CTITF working groups, to promote appropriate education-based efforts to recognize and prevent radicalization to violence and recruitment to terrorist groups;
(d) Contribute to efforts of the United Nations and its departments and agencies to develop models for effectively countering terrorist narratives, both online and offline;
(e) Further develop initiatives to strengthen public-private partnerships in countering terrorist narratives;
(f) Conduct outreach to entities with expertise and experience in crafting counter-narratives, including religious actors, civil society organizations, private-sector entities and others, to better inform the Committee’s understanding of good practices;
(g) Work with outside partners, including members of the CTED Global Research Network, to identify possible ways to measure the impact and effectiveness of counter-narratives;
(h) Continue participating in meetings and workshops, at the global and regional levels, with the objective of highlighting and sharing relevant good practices more widely;
(i) Maintain an up-to-date list of national, regional and global counter‑narrative initiatives;
“5. Directs the CTC, with the support of the CTED, to:
(a) Organize at least one open meeting annually to review developments globally in countering terrorist narratives;
(b) Recommend ways for Member States regarding capacity building to enhance their efforts in the field of counter-terrorist narratives, including through assistance provided by CTITF member entities and other assistance providers;
(c) Use the existing CTED Research network and create an annual work plan to provide advice and to support the work of the CTC and CTED on various matters related to countering terrorist narratives;
“6. Directs the CTC, with the support of the CTED, as appropriate, and within their respective mandates, to include in the country assessments Member States efforts to counter terrorist narratives;
“7. Emphasizes the need for continued engagement between the CTC and CTED and all key actors in countering terrorist narratives;
“8. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”