On 25 March 2019, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) Michèle Coninsx kicked off the 2019 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)-Wide Counter-Terrorism Conference, along with the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic representing the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship 2019. Ms. Coninsx spoke about the latest trends in the global terrorist threat and challenges related to returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and their family members, underlining the need to adopt age- and gender sensitive prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration (PRR) strategies, including tailored and long-term protection for children.
“Recent shifts in the global terrorism threat landscape call for renewed efforts to leverage and maximize our capabilities and resources in an integrated and coordinated manner,” said Ms. Coninsx. “A more comprehensive and holistic approach is needed to prevent and combat the indiscriminate violence of international terrorist groups”.
High-level representatives of Armenia, Belarus, Montenegro, the Russian Federation, the United States, and the European Union also delivered keynote speeches reflecting on a variety of trends underlying radicalization to terrorism and violent extremism. The United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office on Counter-Terrorism, the OSCE’s Secretary-General, and the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship 2019, all delivered closing remarks.
At the conference, which focused on “Taking Stock of Efforts to Prevent and Counter Terrorism as well as Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism in the OSCE Area,” participants discussed international cooperation in countering terrorism, the implementation of good practices in preventing violent extremism and radicalization leading to terrorism, platforms for cooperation and coordination between governments and civil society, referral mechanisms and pre-criminal interventions, as well as rehabilitation and reintegration programmes. Among many common challenges, participants emphasized issues related to FTFs and their families, radicalization in prisons, risks of abuse of migration channels, so-called “home-grown” terrorist radicalization, PRR, links between organized crime and terrorism financing, terrorist use of information and communications technologies (ICT), increased polarization in societies, etc. The role of civil society, as well as the need to respect human rights and gender perspectives, were among cross-cutting matters raised throughout the discussions.
On the sidelines of the formal event, ASG Coninsx held bilateral meetings with over twenty counterparts from Member States and international organizations.
On the margins of the conference, CTED and the European Union co-hosted a side-event about regional perspectives in the implementation of the Addendum to the Guiding Principles on Foreign Terrorist Fighters adopted by the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the United Nations Security Council on 27 December 2018.
Attended by over 100 participants, the side-event featured presentations by experts from CTED, the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the Global Center on Cooperative Security.
Dealing with FTF returnees, relocators, and their family members constitute a major challenge for countries in the OSCE area and beyond. In furtherance of Security Council resolutions 2178 (2014) and 2396 (2017), the 2018 Addendum to the 2015 Madrid Guiding Principles provides a practical tool addressing a variety of measures needed to tackle these challenges in relation to inter alia effective border management and information sharing, preventing and countering incitement and recruitment to commit terrorist acts, judicial measures and international cooperation, protecting critical infrastructure and “soft” targets, as well as cross-cutting issues such as families and children, civil society, and a gender perspective.
CTED and OSCE actively cooperate in many areas within the framework of important initiatives aimed at assisting Member States to enhance their counter-terrorism capacity and implement relevant Security Council resolutions.
Assistant Secretary-General Coninsx’s opening remarks can be accessed here.
Information on the side-event can be accessed here.