The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) has established close, longstanding relationships with the Member States of Asia, with a strong emphasis on the promotion of regional cooperation to counter terrorism and violent extremism. Recent work in South and South-East Asia has included a focus on the role of community engagement in these efforts, both within and outside the criminal justice system. CTED is also working closely with UN Women to identify and learn from the ways in which Governments of the region engage with women’s groups, youth, law enforcement, religious and community leaders, and educators, with the aim of identifying community engagement approaches as a way to counter incitement and violent extremism that is conducive to terrorism.
As part of these efforts, the Counter-Terrorism Committee on 6 June 2018 held an informal meeting in New York on community engagement to counter terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism in South and South-East Asia. Building on work undertaken in 2017 and 2018 by the Member States of the subregions, CTED, and by its implementing partners to promote regional cooperation in the area, the meeting offered participants to provide insights into regional experiences, lessons learned, and good practices, as well as to highlight engagement between practitioners and non-governmental partners.
The informal meeting illustrated the value of a whole-of-society approach to countering terrorism and violent extremism. One of the tools mentioned as a means to challenge gender stereotypes and terrorist narratives, as well as to stress the importance of education, was the use of comics and comedy, e.g. a cartoon like Burka Avenger. Bringing satirical comedy to a serious topic allows youth to be engaged in the political landscape through dialogue and by bringing a diversity of ideas. In terms of education, teaching youth to recognize and identify terrorist propaganda and rhetoric, as well as integrating technology, specifically social media, were also mentioned as particularly important.
The meeting was chaired by H.E. Gustavo Meza-Vuadra Velásquez, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations. Participants included Assistant Secretary-General Michèle Coninsx, Executive Director of CTED; Takeshi Akahori, Minister and Political Coordinator with the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN; and Alison Davidian, Programme Management Specialist with UN Women’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Presenters were H.E. Nabeel Munir, Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN; Achsanul Habib, Political Coordinator for Human Rights, Counter-Terrorism, and Decolonization with the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the UN; Humera Khan, Co-founder and President of Muflehun; and Datu Mussolini Sinsuat Lidasan, Executive Director, Al Qalam Institute, Atteneo de Davao University.