Geopolitics

“More than now, than ever”: The need for a global counter terrorism policy
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 13 May , 2016

Enhancing Capacities and Coordination within UN Agencies

Counterterrorism capacity can be defined as the capacity of intergovernmental/regional law enforcement agencies, national enforcement agencies, militaries, police departments and corporations successfully combating against terrorism. It comprises of strategies involved in combating terrorism. It further explains counter terrorism policies and mechanism and step by step procedure for handling a threat followed by the legal system involved, annexes with respect to the human rights, pre-emptive anti-terror organizations and threat assessment procedures.

There is an absolute need to frame the policy against terror. Human rights activist group have been actively advocating against violent means, which makes the community a collateral during a conflict.

There are quite a few flaws in the counter-terrorism policy today, and possess a serious disadvantage to the community today. The policy comprises mostly of country specific, extensive security mechanism which too plays a significant role in breeding wars, violates human rights, and closes the gap in civil society.

There is an absolute need to frame the policy against terror. Human rights activist group have been actively advocating against violent means, which makes the community a collateral during a conflict. Active clashes between the human rights and security forces have instigated another debate on appropriate “rules of engagement” which cannot be side-lined. For the UN and other international agencies human rights are a priority and without taking the human rights concept into account, it will be very difficult for counter terror polices to be created, as every time an incident will require security forces to respond, the legitimacy of the responders will be questioned.

The Counter terrorism strategy further states that “effective counter-terrorism measures and the promotion of human rights are not conflicting goals, but complementary and mutually reinforcing”. European courts have been successfully identified terror groups and have placed them under extreme economic sanctions. The human right element is important but again, they are limited and are not enough to protect human rights during an incident. Also, on many cases, government brand “human rights” activists as terrorist and are then prosecuted under the sedition acts.

Importance of Intergovernmental Cooperation and Coordination with Regional Organizations

Europe

European Union

European Union is a multi-national organization which comprises of 28 member states of Europe. It was formed to create a unity with political, economic, social and legal cohesion in Europe. According to the framework it “is founded on the universal values of human dignity, liberty, equality and solidarity, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and is based on the principle of democracy and the principle of the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States” and thus, “terrorism constitutes one of the most serious violations of those principles”.

Inspite of all its commitments, the threat levels continue to be high, despite vast security arrangements and threat assessments.

Europe is currently going through a massive refugee crisis, which makes its boundaries breachable and its internal security compromised. EU has its own counter terrorism policy which was formed in 2005. The EU counter terrorism policy satisfies democracy, dialogue and governance, and is quite equipped in handling radicalisation. EU under any circumstance does not takes radicalisation easily. Their main governing pillars are: Protection, Protection, Pursuit and Response. Their aim is to combat radicalisation and prevent its expansion under any circumstances; reducing the vulnerability of all citizens along with timely prosecution and apprehension of those found responsible, securing transportation and managing security across the borders; while apprehending terrorists using intergovernmental task force.

Inspite of all its commitments, the threat levels continue to be high, despite vast security arrangements and threat assessments.

Council of Europe

Council of Europe (CoE) is an international organization with 47 member nations. It was established to enhance cooperation and coordination in areas such as legislation, human rights, democratic development, law and in culture.

There have been many decisions, declarations, opinions and resolutions initiated by the Council of Europe. Similar on many occasions to the UN, the organization was strengthened after the “September 11 attacks” which shook the world.  The “Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism” was signed by the member nations of the EU and some non-member nations such as Canada, the Holy

See, Japan, Mexico and the USA. The convention was designed to strengthen as well as increase the cooperation and coordination against terrorism. It is tasked to strengthen member nations:

Dakar Declaration against Terrorism in 2001 was adopted right after 9/11. The Declaration condemns terror attacks and firmly believes in making it a number 1 priority for all member states in eliminating it.

“by establishing as criminal offences certain acts that may lead to the commission of terrorist offences, namely: public provocation, recruitment and training

“by reinforcing co-operation on prevention both internally (national prevention policies), and internationally (modification of existing extradition and mutual assistance arrangements and additional means).”

Africa

African Union

Below are the counter-terrorism policies adopted by the African Union:

1. Algiers Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in 1999 (prepared by the predecessor of the African Union),

2. Dakar Declaration against Terrorism in 2001

3. High level intergovernmental meeting on the prevention of and combating terrorism in Africa and the Plan of Action of the meeting.

Algiers Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in 1999 openly condemns all kinds of terrorists acts. The Convention further supports cooperation and joint efforts of member nations of the AU in eliminating the terror threats, it also talks about legal assistance to those convicted. Dakar Declaration against Terrorism in 2001 was adopted right after 9/11. The Declaration condemns terror attacks and firmly believes in making it a number 1 priority for all member states in eliminating it. It also talks about active need of cooperation from member states.

In September of 2002, a high level meeting took place in Algiers, Algeria by the African Union, on the topic “prevention and combating of terrorism in Africa”. This high level meeting discussed in depth counter-terrorism policy of member states of the AU. The meeting extensively discussed all the counter terrorism policies adopted by the AU and unanimously supported the active need to reinforce its laws in light of the challenges today; this discussion was based largely on the Algiers Convention of the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism and the Dakar Declaration against Terrorism. The Plan of deliberately discussed counter terrorism policies of every member state, police and boundary laws, legislative laws and jurisdiction, amendments of national laws, financial terrorism and information sharing, and coordination at regional, continental and international levels followed by the role of the African Union.

The League then adopted the code of ethics “wherein Arab states commit themselves to combat terrorism and abstain from participating or engaging in terrorist actions or offering asylum to the perpetrators of such acts”.

Middle East

League of Arab States

Ministers of the Arab states, in the aftermath of the Gulf War, began discussing effective ways to combat terrorism. Although the discussion came to an end in January 1996, after four rigorous four years of discussion and eminent threat assessment. The League then adopted the code of ethics “wherein Arab states commit themselves to combat terrorism and abstain from participating or engaging in terrorist actions or offering asylum to the perpetrators of such acts”. The ministers again met on January 1996 to discuss the appropriate definition of terrorism; they then removed “armed struggles by peoples under foreign occupation to free their lands and realize their rights of self-determination” from the definition, which they themselves used quite frequently on Israel.

After years of discussion the League then created an “accord to fight Terrorism and Extremism” which was then adopted on April 22, 1998. This accord called for all member states to fight counter terrorism unanimously further calling for effective cooperation, coordination and exchange of resources. The Council of Ministers of Justice again met on January 2009, and discussed on the need to effective address the issue of terrorism through unity.

Asia

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

Established after the Dhaka Summit of 1985 where “the Heads of State or Government of the Member States of the SAARC recognized the seriousness of the problem of terrorism as it affects the security and stability of the region” along with the Bangalore Summit Declaration of 1986 where SAARC member nations agreed on creating a counter-terror policy, the “Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism” was established. This Convention talks about role of member nations in combating terror effectively through joint counter-terrorism program. SAARC member nations then adopted effective policies on the convention of financial terrorism, while agreeing to the fact that crippling terror network can only be possible by disrupting their finances.

From the old testaments of the Bhagavad-Gita, till today, terrorism has always breaded within mankind.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism (ACCT), was signed in 2007 and was ratified in 2013, today, serves as a basic “framework for regional cooperation to counter, prevent and suppress terrorism and deepen counter-terrorism cooperation”. “With all ASEAN Member States aboard on the ACCT, ASEAN has taken another step in fulfilling the ASEAN Political and Security Blueprint, and in developing a safer and more secure ASEAN for everyone.”

This Convention further reinforces that “terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group” while stressing on the fact that pre identification of these groups are important and should be done through coordination of multiagency or by creating a multi-agency task force. It focussed the importance of crippling the financing of terrorism along with cross border activities.

Conclusion

From the old testaments of the Bhagavad-Gita, till today, terrorism has always breaded within mankind. Throughout the history, the means have changed, tactics improved, however still some people consider killing the best way to meet their maker, or for some that’s the best way to make their living, be it individuals or states. As stated by experts from “terrorism cannot be stopped with just one action, which is through violent means or using force”.

…violations by terror groups, have a massive impact on civilian population especially civilian lives, whether it is being perpetrated by an organization, a non-state actor or a terror group.

As George W. Bush, the former President of the United States, states, “terrorism is not created by fighting them through military means, rather ignoring them as they breed within us”. Jason Burke, a journalist with an expertise on Al Qaeda stated that, “to recognise that widespread terrorist organisations represent ideologies, not organisations. There is no point in talking about masterminds or hunting for a global headquarters. There are none.” We have a dark future in front of us, hence, it is important for us to create effective counter-terrorism policies and implement these policies as quickly as possible, the sooner will implement, more reinforced and prepared will we be. It is also important for political leaders and policy makers to understand the rule of law, mixing human rights violations and counter terror policies is similar to “cloaking” casualties. The Global Counter Terrorism policy of the United Nations will be a great success if all member nations come together unanimous and implement the same.

Today, violations by terror groups, have a massive impact on civilian population especially civilian lives, whether it is being perpetrated by an organization, a non-state actor or a terror group. With pre-emptive counter terror strategy, member nations reinforce it regional, local and national law enforcement agencies and further enhance their regional and local capacity towards their fight against terrorism.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Anant Mishra

is a security analyst with expertise in counter-insurgency and counter-terror operations. His policy analysis has featured in national and international journals and conferences on security affairs.

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