CTED and New York University co-host event highlighting 20 years of counter-terrorism

On 7 May 2021, the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the New York University’s Center for Global Affairs (CGA) co-hosted a virtual roundtable titled “20 years of UN Security Council resolution 1373 (2001): Past trends, current threats, and future developments in terrorism and counter-terrorism.” Twenty-four participants, including those affiliated with CTED’s Global Research Network (GRN) and other experts, attended the event.

The discussants elaborated on the evolving dynamics of the global terrorist threat. Four sessions focused on global counter-terrorism responses and the role of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC); terrorist actors and the changing threat landscape; operational factors and terrorist methodologies; and emerging trends, developments, and challenges for the coming decade. Key issues raised during the discussion included:

  • An overview of successes achieved by the international counter-terrorism community in the past twenty years, including major developments in counter-terrorism policy and the introduction of new tools and legal instruments that have broadened the global counter-terrorism agenda.

  • Questions regarding the effectiveness of the global counter-terrorism response in light of the resources spent over the past 20 years, as well as the failure to address socio-political grievances, which can potentially lead to radicalization to violence and potentially undermine existing counter-terrorism efforts.

  • The volatility and uncertainty of the evolving threat landscape And the need for consistent policies to address the nature of the evolving threat, including new challenges from extreme right-wing terrorist groups, as well as those arising from ISIL, Al Qaida and affiliated groups.

  • The importance of addressing potential abuses by State actors, including human rights violations, and understanding how such abuses can trigger mobilization and radicalization to violence and/or terrorism occur.

  • Gender dynamics in the current threat landscape, as well as the need to integrate vulnerable populations in counter-terrorism policies, including women and children at risk of radicalization to terrorism and recruitment.

  • An emphasis on the need for regional perspectives in counter-terrorism policies, in order to ensure stronger regional cooperation and collaboration, while integrating and addressing local challenges and grievances, community-based approaches, and resilience and other protective factors.

  • The pivotal role played by technology in recruitment, coordination, and promotion of terrorist activities, requiring more targeted policies for distinct approaches to deal with specific terrorist operational practices, such as the use of cryptocurrencies, drones, and sophisticated technologies.

  • Emerging threats, challenges, and developments in terrorism need to recognize key factors behind terrorist acts, while addressing ideologies and other relevant factors motivating individuals and groups.

This roundtable was a precursor to a planned open meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee with the CTED Global Research Network on “Emerging threats, trends and developments in terrorism and counter-terrorism: reflecting on 20 years of countering the terrorist threat” planned for later in 2021. This roundtable and the planned open meeting are part of a series of events in 2021 commemorating the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1373 (2001).  The open meeting will aim to share the latest evidence-based research on terrorism, counter-terrorism, and countering violence extremism, identify lessons learned from the past 20 years of global counter-terrorism responses, and suggest measures to make counter-terrorism more effective in the next decade and beyond.