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  This module is a resource for lecturers  

 

Regional and multilateral approaches to preventing and countering violent extremism

 

Both prior to, and in furtherance of the VE Action Plan, sub-regional and regional organizations have been engaged in a range of activities aimed ultimately at preventing and countering violent extremism more effectively. An illustrative, by no means complete, overview of regional and multilateral approaches follows here.

The African region

The rise of terrorist related events and violent extremism has been the source of significant threats to peace and security in the African region. Instances of violent extremism have occurred throughout the continent. By way of illustration, in Tunisia there have been a spate of fatal attacks, attributed to ISIL by the Tunisian Government (Counter Extremism Project); whilst in Nigeria, Boko Haram has adversely impacted on the lives of thousands (Maclean, 2018); as has been the case also in Somalia due to the often brutal activities of al-Shabaab, which sometimes extend into neighbouring countries such as Kenya and Uganda (Ramdeen, 2017). In response, the African Union Peace and Security Council, a "platform for African Union Member States to project their foreign policy concerns in relation to the issues of peace and security" ( African Union Peace and Security Council), has acted to strongly condemn "violent extremist ideologies and narratives, and recognise[d] the integral role of these phenomena in the ultimate execution of terrorist acts" (see also ISS, 2017). As a result, the Council has stressed the need to combat extremism, urging Member States to "exert their utmost efforts in order to effectively address the root causes and the underlying conditions conducive for the spread of terrorism" (African Union Peace and Security, (A)).

A central concern of the African Union is to deal effectively with the threat that violent extremism poses. To this end, the Peace and Security Council has concentrated much of its work on addressing this. For instance, in October 2017, the Council convened its 728 th meeting to address "[t]he role of women in preventing and countering violent extremism in Africa" (African Union Peace and Security Council, (B)), reflective of Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security. By way of a preamble to the discussions, the Council reiterated the significance of the threat that violent extremism poses not only to peace and security matters, but additionally for the realization of long term "sustainable development in the African continent" (African Union Peace and Security Council, (B)). The Council further acknowledged the pivotal role that women can play in combating violent extremism, and that to facilitate this the African Union should continue to promote women's rights due to related work being one of the "success factors in preventing and combating the scourge of violent extremism" (African Union Peace and Security Council, (B)). The Council went on to stress the "importance of institutionalising the integration of gender perspectives in all national policies and programmes, as well as of promoting and ensuring women's effective participation in decision making, particularly in the implementation of the peace and security agenda in the African continent" (African Union Peace and Security Council, (B)).

Similarly, the African Union Youth Division has recognized the importance of increased engagement with the youth of Africa on PVE/CVE issues, as part of a more comprehensive regional approach. The aim of the Youth Division, on matters of violent extremism, is to draw on the "soft power of religion and dialogue" in order to promote "values of tolerance, mutual respect and better understanding centred on intra and interfaith, interreligious and inter-cultural values that are the core principles for integration and peace", with the hope that this will encourage behavioural change in communities and individuals (African Union Peace and Security Council, (B)). Such a 'soft approach' has been adopted, for instance, in Nigeria by the Office of the National Security Advisor (CTED, International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 2015, p. 8).

It is apparent that, in order to ensure effective counter-measures to violent extremism, the African region has sought to open more dialogue with civil society and better engage with a broader section of society than had previously been in the case on PVE/CVE related matters, indicating a move towards more holistic strategies that are not strictly focused on securitization. This being said, though inter alia the Peace and Security Council has continued to emphasize the need to engage with a broad range of actors in PVE/CVE efforts - including greater involvement of women, leaders of religious groups, community leaders, educational institutions, and youth (African Union Peace and Security Council, (C)) - it has to date provided little in the way of substantive guidance as to how this might be played out in practice, whether by women or other key stakeholders.

The Asian region

The existence and impacts of violent extremism are not new to the Asian region, though the region has experienced a rise in related activities during the past decade especially. In response, the region is committed to addressing these issues, including through the auspices of regional organizations. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for instance, has acknowledged that it must "work together on countering all forms of terrorism and violent extremism' (ASEAN, 2017); whilst the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has stressed the need to adopt and finalize, then implement, the Comprehensive Convention on Combating International Terrorism (discussed in Module 4). Furthermore, the SCO has echoed ASEAN in recognizing the importance of securing increased cooperation amongst its Member States in order to counteract the activities of individuals and entities relating to the recruitment and training of those that might undertake violent extremist activities, whilst continuing to emphasize the importance of Member States "holding joint anti-terrorist exercises on a regular basis" (Astana declaration, 2017, p. 5). As noted in Module 4, the SCO is also unique in having an anti-terrorism instrument governing extremist as well as terrorist activities.

It is interesting to note that such declarations generally lack any clearly formulated PVE or CVE mechanisms, as was observed by Gregory Rose and Diana Nestorovska in their comparative assessment of regional counter-terrorism treaties (Rose and Nestorovska, 2006, pp. 157-185). They found that the language utilized within related instruments and agreements was often vague with uncertain accompanying obligations, and were of the view that most of the measures designed for prevention and intelligence cooperation were insubstantial

Looking at the form that regional responses to violent extremism have taken, it is interesting also to note that within The Astana Declaration of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation document, for instance, the SCO gave little direct attention to non-securitized responses on these matters. That said, the SCO does recognize the significance of socio-economic development, in general terms, and that States should act to fulfil their own economic potential, which should assist in mitigating, at least to some extent, drivers of violent extremism. Some related challenges remain though, illustrated by the fact that many national level proposals aimed at countering violent extremism are, primarily, security focused (Almuttaqi, 2015).

There have also been marked moves towards 'softer' preventive measures. For example, the Indonesian Government's first ever blueprint for addressing violent extremism, whilst still strongly oriented towards traditional law enforcement approaches, nonetheless supplements these with the recognition that it is important to implement a soft and persuasive approach in order to prevent drivers to violent extremism from emerging. In this sense, the Indonesian blueprint noted several factors that required special attention: poverty; political disagreement; poor education; social, cultural; and psychological conditions; as well as technology (National Counter Terrorism Agency, 2014). Evident synergies can be seen between these and the United Nations Secretary-General's VE Action Plan.

As with the African region, there appears to be a growing awareness of the significant role that women can and should play in PVE/CVE efforts. The East Asia Forum, a research institute focusing on the Asia Pacific region, for instance, has identified the diverse role that women can play in aiding with the prevention of the spread of fundamentalist ideologies. Similarly, the Monash Gender, Peace and Security research group - specializing in the role of women in preventing and countering violent extremism - recognized in its paper Preventing Violent Extremism: gender perspectives and women's roles an "impressive variety of ways in which women are individually and collectively" involved in PVE. It identified that the role of women in PVE and CVE extends "far beyond their family roles" (True and Eddyono, 2017, p. 7), and that States should be supportive of women working and leading within the community (True and Eddyono, 2017, p. 15). In addition to recognizing the role of women, a major focus of the Monash study was on the significance of the promotion of gender equality as being the "single most powerful counter-discourse to extremist interpretations of religion" (True and Eddyono, 2017, pp. 15-16).

The European region

The European region has also experienced significant effects attributable to violent extremist activities. As a report published by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2017 comments:

There is practically no country in the OSCE that has not been affected by violent extremism. In 2016, terrorist attacks in OSCE participating States caused more than one thousand deaths. They destroyed billions of Euros worth of property and infrastructure, undermined people's confidence in government and institutions, and created fear and suspicion between members of different ethnic and religious communities. Violent extremists not only cause death and destruction, they poison societies with hateful ideologies, and hinder peaceful development, dialogue, and cooperation. OSCE participating States have long recognised this challenge. (Neumann, 2017, p. 2).

In terms of the OSCE, within its membership which encompasses countries from beyond the European region, its efforts are framed around "Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalisation that Lead to Terrorism" (VERLT) and linked to its 2012 Consolidated Framework in the Fight against Terrorism (OSCE, Permanent Council, 2012), together with two Ministerial Declarations adopted in 2015 (OSCE, Ministerial Council, 2015) and 2016 (OSCE, Ministerial Council, 2016). With respect to the 2012 Framework, this identified VERLT as one of its eight "strategic focus areas" (OSCE, Permanent Council, 2012, paras. 14-17). Among its identified drivers are "negative socio-economic factors", human rights violations, discrimination and intolerance together with violent conflicts.

The 2015 Ministerial Declaration recognized that a multi-dimensional approach to counter-terrorist efforts was required, including the need to address the underlying causes such as the "various social, economic, political and other factors, which might engender conditions in which terrorist organizations could engage in recruitment and win support". (Preamble). A primary focus of the 2015 Declaration was to strengthen international cooperation including through the exchange of best practices and ideas. (Preamble). Furthermore, whilst the Declaration recognized that the primary responsibility for efforts to counter both violent extremism and terrorism lies with States, it also highlighted the pressing requirement for all stakeholders to be fully involved, notably "youth, families, women, victims of terrorism, religious, cultural and educational leaders, civil society, as well as the media". (Preamble). An overarching theme of the 2016 Declaration was to reiterate the importance of adherence to the rule of law, including the key principles underpinning the United Nations CT Strategy (e.g., paras. 4 and 6). Of especial note too, the 2015 and 2016 Declarations expressly refer to both PVE and CVE efforts, therefore again suggesting a distinction between the two concepts discussed earlier. In pursuit of such objectives, the OSCE has undertaken multiple and varied initiatives ranging from high level conferences and meetings to grassroots initiatives (Neumann, 2017, pp. 33-38).

In the same 2017 report, its author, Peter Neumann, concluded that despite the multiple complexities and challenges facing the OSCE in its efforts to counter violent extremism and radicalization, that there were particular aspects on which the Organization added value: (1) " Its role in preventing and resolving conflicts, promoting human rights, and safeguarding the rights of national minorities ..."; (2) "Its strong local presence, particularly in Central Asia and the Western Balkans....."; and (3) "Its diverse membership and convening power ..." (Neumann, 2017, p. 2) . Among the principal challenges that Neumann identified was the fact that often key stakeholders did not speak a common language or had conflicting understandings regarding the underlying factors and consequences of violent extremism and radicalization (Neumann, 2017, pp. 2-3).

Similarly, the European Union (EU) has been actively engaged on PVE and CVE related matters, particularly since the adoption of its Strategy on Prevention of Radicalization and Recruitment, first promulgated in 2005 (European Union, European Council, 2005), which is periodically updated. The concept of "prevention" forms one of the EU's four pillars underpinning its EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy (European Union, European Council, 2005). As such, the prevention of radicalization forms an integral aspect of the EU's regional counter-terrorism activities, which is reflected also within The European Agenda on Security 2015 (European Union, European Commission, 2015). As a 2016 European Commission Communication noted, while expressing its support of the VE Action Plan, "[v]iolent radicalisation is not a new phenomenon; however, its most recent manifestations, its scale, as well as the use of new communication tools present new challenges that call for an approach addressing both the immediate security implications of radicalisation as well as the root causes, bringing together all relevant actors across society." (European Union, European Commission, 2016). Though the EU is of the view that the primary responsibility for dealing with radicalization and violent extremism lies with States, nevertheless it seeks to support States in this regard in the following activities:

(i) supporting research, evidence building, monitoring and networking; (ii) countering terrorist propaganda and hate speech online; (iii) addressing radicalisation in prisons; (iv) promoting inclusive education and EU common values; (v) promoting an inclusive, open and resilient society and reaching out to young people; (vi) the security dimension of addressing radicalisation and; (vii) the international dimension. (European Union, European Commission, 2016).

In terms of the key "drivers conducive to radicalisation", the 2016 Communication identified these as including:

[A] strong sense of personal or cultural alienation, perceived injustice or humiliation reinforced by social marginalisation, xenophobia and discrimination, limited education or employment possibilities, criminality, political factors as well as an ideological and religious dimension, unstructured family ties, personal trauma and other psychological problems. (European Union, European Commission, 2016).

In particular, it identified the significant facilitating role for recruiters to violent extremism of social media which "provide[s] connectivity, virtual participation and an echo-chamber for like-minded extremist views" together with the relatively short timeframes in which radicalization can occur. To date it is estimated that 4000 EU nationals have joined the ranks of "foreign fighters". (European Union, European Commission, 2016).

The EU has also adopted a number of other measures aimed directly or indirectly at PVE/CVE efforts, such as its Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which requires Member States to ensure that audiovisual media services - such as TV broadcasts and video-on-demand services - do not contain any materials that incite hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality (European Union, European Parliament and Council, 2010). It also seeks to address issues regarding radicalization in prisons, better engagement with youth, as well as supporting third countries (i.e. non-EU States) in addressing the underlying factors of radicalization. (European Union, European Commission, 2016).

For completeness, brief mention is made here regarding the Council of Europe which has similarly been engaged in PVE/CVE activities. Key areas of its institutional focus have been on CVE in the contexts of radicalization of the youth (e.g., through the holding of sub-regional conferences) as well as in prisons (e.g., through the development of a handbook and other guidance to ensure compliance by Contracting Parties with their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights), further details of which are included in the 'tools' box below.

The Inter-American region

The Americas have also experienced the effects of violent extremism, with the most significant attacks to date being those of 9/11 which greatly increased the regional attention given to terrorism and violent extremism related matters. For instance, soon after the attacks, in 2002, the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism (see further Module 5). Reflecting regional priorities at the time of its adoption, the primary focus of the Convention's text was on CVE through criminal justice measures, emphasizing as well the importance of starving terrorist organizations of the financial resources needed to support their terrorist activities. It was further recognized that a concerted effort was needed towards "strengthening and establishing new forms of regional cooperation" with a view to eradicating violent extremist behaviour. By June 2018, 24 out of the 33 OAS Member States have ratified the Convention. Violent extremism continues to pose significant challenges and security threats across the region, whether it is in the form of 'lone wolf' attacks, as have occurred in North America (2017, BBC News; Bajekal, 2014), or cooperation or convergence between violent extremist actors and organized criminal groups in South America (Fowler, 2016).

Despite this, direct measures to prevent or counter violent extremism, at least within the auspices of the OAS, seem to be relatively few. With the exception of the occasional resolution or instrument adopted by the OAS General Assembly on terrorism related issues, the entity most actively engaged with counter-terrorism activities is the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE). A primary element of its mandate is to promote and develop cooperation among Member States to "prevent, combat and eliminate terrorism". What is apparent from OAS resolutions, documents and so forth, including those of the General Assembly and CICTE, is that the central focus remains on strengthening cooperation between OAS Member States, especially with respect to the priority issues of terrorism, as well as any linkages between "terrorism and illicit drug trafficking, illicit trafficking in arms, money laundering, and other forms of transnational organized crime, and....... illicit activities [that] may be used to support and finance terrorist activities" (CICTE, OEA/Ser.L/X.2.11. CICTE/DEC.1/11).

It is evident that at least some of these cooperative activities are strongly security focused, suggested by one of the principal outputs of the OAS General Assembly on terrorism, namely its Declaration on Reaffirmation of the Hemisphere Commitment to Fighting Terrorism in 2008. This recognized "the significant contribution made by the security forces of the Member States in the fight against terrorism and that, in this respect, adequate capacity-building, training, and equipment are necessary to face this threat, and that this requires strengthening international cooperation in these areas" (CICTE, OEA/Ser.L/X.2.8). The other central focus for cooperative measures has been on strengthening criminal justice mechanisms (see also Inter-American Convention against Terrorism, preamble). This is illustrated by CICTE's most recently available work plan which describes the "Commitment to Enhance Cooperation to Prevent, Combat and Eliminate Terrorism" element as focusing on such measures as "mutual exchange of information, best practices and expertise and better access to sources of technical and financial assistance for institution-building" (CICTE, OEA/Ser.L/X.2.11. CICTE/DEC.1/11, para. 5) as well as other activities including" legislative assistance and combating terrorism financing" (CICTE, OEA/Ser.L/X.2.11. CICTE/DEC.1/11, para. 10).

As such, no express mention is made of radicalization, preventing or countering violent extremism, within the OAS's primary outputs including its 2002 anti-terrorism convention. Possibly these issues fall within the broader remit of the concepts of "Prevent, Combat and Eliminate". It is therefore unclear what regionally wide priorities exist or what measures are being taken regarding PVE and CVE agendas, including in furtherance of the Secretary-General's VE Action Plan. It is evident too that the current terrorism-related priorities remain on cyber security, the protection of critical infrastructures, pursuing Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) on preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorist non-State actors, as well as terrorist financing, rather than on addressing the underlying causes of terrorist motivation for such activities (see further CICTE documents). It is possible that this may change in the future, reflecting national approaches of its membership, e.g., the Joint Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism developed by the US Department of State and USAID which embeds both PVE and CVE elements.

The Middle East and the Gulf regions

The geographical regions covered by the membership of the League of Arab States (LAS) as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) - including but not limited to the Middle East and Gulf regions - have also been severely impacted by violent extremism.

Though a primary focus of LAS is on preventing non-State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, it is concerned also with factors which are further fuelling regional instability and terrorist activities. This is illustrated by key outcomes of its conference on Regional Security and Challenges Facing the Arab Region, held by the LAS in February 2015. In addition to its continuing primary focus on 'hard' measures, notably military and legislative (including criminal justice) approaches, it has acknowledged the need for a parallel, 'softer', "more multi-dimensional approach". For example, it recognizes the necessity for "Arab states to find a political settlement to conflicts within the region, particularly in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, as well as in other countries witnessing civil conflicts. In parallel, efforts should focus on countering terrorism in order to eliminate it and confront extremism (both intellectual and religious) by addressing its root causes and draining extremists' resources." The conference adopted a number of specific proposals in terms of future steps, including: 

  • "Collectively confront the threat posed by terrorism, and work on degrading terrorist organizations' physical strength (both military and financial), and their ability to influence public opinion and attract youth.
  • Emphasize the need to develop a wide range of social policies to deprive terrorist organizations of any incubator that provides protection and coverage.
  • Conference participants demand that the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States, in collaboration with research centers (and) strategic studies institutions, develop multi-dimensional comprehensive strategies to defeat terrorism. These strategies should take measures to expand political participation. Thus, such measures will create a democratic system that meets overall development and social justice, as well as involve civil society organizations in the fight against violence and extremism.
  • Such mechanisms should be complemented with a campaign to combat ideologies that perpetuate hate and violence. A media campaign that condemns terrorist crimes and the promotion of religious, sectarian, ethnic, or regional hatred should be implemented while simultaneously promoting freedom of expression. Furthermore, the reformation of educational systems and curricula is needed to ensure a solid base through which to prevent the emergence of extremist ideas that serve as the ideological foundation of terrorism.
  • Participants value efforts of Al-Azhar Al-Shareef and other religious institutions in Arab and Islamic countries to refute the erroneous interpretations of Islam. These institutions have an important role in correcting misconceptions promoted by extremist groups ... Possible mechanisms for achieving this would be through the establishment of an entity to combat extremist ideology, the formulation of a religious discourse that highlights the tolerance of Islam, and a response to erroneous ideologies. 
  • Conferees believe that the General Secretariat should establish a working committee that includes all sectors of society-in particular civil society organizations-to promote regional security and address the challenges in the Arab region ..."

As with the LAS, the OIC similarly approaches threats posed by extremist violence largely through security and military lenses. This is illustrated by its Resolution No. 21/44-POL "On the Combating [of] Terrorism in Sahel-Saharan Region Countries" during its recent 44th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (held 10-11 July 2017) which "[e]ncourage[d] OIC Member States, in the framework of this fight, to support countries of the Sahel region, particularly to the Sahel G5, through, inter alia, reinforcing the capacity of the defense and security forces, and requests the UN to provide the MINUSMA with a robust mandate that enables it to face terrorist threats and support Sahel G5 countries in the establishment of rapid-response force." (Para. 2). It was evident from this Resolution that the priorities in that region are "drug trafficking, human trafficking and hostage taking leading to ransoms as the major source of financing of the activities of terrorist groups" (para. 1) - i.e. with the immediate threats and issues, rather than with addressing the underlying causes for such activities.

While the OIC does refer to extremism, this tends to be in the context of its concerns regarding misrepresentations about the Islamic faith and its concern with tackling "religious extremism" (see e.g. Islamic Summit Conference, Istanbul Summit, 2016, paras. 99 and 110). In this regard, the OIC recognizes the need for 'softer' measures. For instance, during its 13th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference in 2016, it "t[ook] note of the recent establishment of the League of Ulemas, Preachers and Imams of the Sahel countries in Adrar, Algeria and express[ed its] ... support for their role and action in combating religious extremism which threatens the stability and security in the region, and for the dissemination of Islamic values of tolerance and dialogue". (Para. 110).

With respect to PVE/CVE initiatives more generally these are perhaps not as pronounced as with other regional organizations. For instance, no mention of such issues could be found in some of its core outputs, such as the Istanbul Declaration on Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace adopted by the Islamic Summit (comprising OIC heads of State) in 2016. The outputs of Islamic Summits, in which Heads of State participated, are important indicators of the OIC's current priorities.

That said, the OIC does have some ongoing PVE/CVE related initiatives. For example, the need to prevent youth radicalization forms part of its Joint OIC Youth Strategy, which was approved on the margins of the fourth Islamic Conference of Youth and Sports Ministers (ICYSM) in Baku Azerbaijan on 19 April 2018.  This identifies four types of youth drawn towards (violent) extremism: revenge seekers, identity seekers, status seekers and thrill seekers (Islamic Conference Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2016, p. 19 and p. 18). The draft Strategy recognizes the need to:

"[P]romote inter-sectarian and inter-community dialogue by denying terrorist groups such as Daesh, PKK and so forth of imposing subversive ideologies on young generation. In this regard to support establishment of an all-OIC youth media platform where young people will have the chance of constructive self-expression; enhancing sense of active citizenship, achieving true understanding of Islam as religion of peace; countering destructive violent ideologies and rehabilitating those affected by extremist propaganda" (pp. 31-32).

In terms of how this might be achieved, the Strategy notes that "[i]t is crucial to design specific programmes both on governmental and non-governmental levels in the fields of non-formal education and new opportunities of social lifting as well as in sports, arts, creativity and entertainment to deny the radical groups to tap into those groups of youth" (p. 19). Such recommendations reflect more general acknowledgment by the OIC of the need to invest "in the future of society and on how to engage youth to serve as powerful agents for nation building, the achievement of peace and as a constructive force for economic and social development" (OIC, Council of Foreign Ministers, 2017). This includes addressing educational, social-economic and gender related inequalities, all of which may be drivers of violent extremism as was discussed above.

Notably too, the OIC, since 2006 (OIC, 2006), has been more engaged in matters regarding the empowerment of women. This appears to have gathered increased momentum more recently, perhaps reflective of wider global trends and initiatives including within the auspices of the United Nations system. For example, the OIC Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women, adopted in 2016 (OIC, 2016), recognizes that:

In order to address the ever growing challenges the OIC Member States are facing, it is essential to improve the status and conditions of women to enable them to effectively participate in the political, economic, cultural and social spheres, thereby bringing about sustainable peace, prosperity and well-being. (Para. 8).

Therefore, the OIC is taking a number of measures towards reducing gender inequality and ensuring social justice "pursuant to Islamic values of social justice and gender equality". (Para. 5). Though the new Action Plan does not specifically mention radicalization of violent extremism, these could fall more generally within its parameters.

The Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF)

The Global Counter Terrorism Forum, (GCTF) is an inter-governmental body, established in 2011, and comprised of 29 Member States, and the EU. It acts as a policy forum, bringing experts and practitioners together to share expertise and experience on approaches for countering violent extremism and terrorism. Through its working groups, the body develops and promotes non-binding Memoranda of Good Practices for use by Member and non-member countries. Several of the Memoranda relate to issues associated with preventing or countering violent extremism through criminal justice measures. Some examples of relevant GCTF Memoranda appear here.

Marrakech Memorandum on Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the "Foreign Terrorist Fighter" Phenomenon*

In response to the growing phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) in 2014, through a series of expert meetings, developed this Memorandum of good practices. As a soft law instrument, it is a useful benchmark, including in terms of agreeing common approaches and facilitating more effective international cooperation in response. These good practices are "noted" in Security Council Resolution 2178 (Preamble).

A. Detecting and Intervening Against Violent Extremism

Good Practice # 1 - Invest in the long-term cultivation of trusted relationships with communities susceptible to recruitment, considering the broader set of issues and concerns affecting the community.

Good Practice # 2 - Develop a wide range of proactive, positive counter-narratives and alternative activities, offering non-violent, productive alternatives to help those in need, as well as means to channel frustration, anger, and concerns without turning to violence.

Good Practice # 3 - Bring together social media, analytic experts, and technology innovators to develop and produce compelling counter-narrative content.

Good Practice # 4 - Empower those who are best-placed to affect change, including youth, families, women, and civil society, to take ownership in the development and messaging of positive counter-narratives to the violent extremist agenda.

Good Practice # 5 - Prevent the identification of the FTF phenomenon or violent extremism with any religion, culture, ethnic group, nationality, or race.

B. Preventing, Detecting and Intervening Against Recruitment and Facilitation

Good Practice # 6 - Reach out to communities to develop awareness of the FTF threat and build resilience to violent extremist messages.

Good Practice # 7 - Collect and fuse detailed information from government agencies, front line workers, communities, and social media to detect recruitment and facilitation while respecting the rule of law and human rights.

Good Practice # 8 - Pool resources, share information, and collaborate with the private sector to curb online recruitment of FTFs.

Good Practice # 9 - Adopt tailored and targeted approaches for CVE responses to radicalization and recruitment, based on the specific motivational factors and intended audience.

C. Detecting and Intervening Against Travel and Fighting

Good Practice # 10 - Increase the sharing of local public, law enforcement and intelligence information and analysis, and corresponding best practices, through bilateral relationships and multilateral fora to prevent FTF travel.

Good Practice # 11 - Develop and implement appropriate legal regimes and administrative procedures to effectively prosecute and mitigate the risk posed by FTFs.

Good Practice # 12 - Apply appropriate screening measures designed to disrupt FTF travel, with particular attention to air travel.

Good Practice # 13 - Use all available tools to prevent the misuse of travel documents for FTF travel.

Good Practice # 14 - Increase the capacity of States to prevent FTF travel across land borders and, more broadly, take appropriate measures to prevent FTFs within their territory from planning or preparing for terrorist acts to be carried out at home or abroad.

D. Detecting and Intervening Upon Return

Good Practice # 15 - Use as wide as possible a range of information sources to anticipate and detect returnees.

Good Practice # 16 - Build and use evidence-based, individual-level risk assessment frameworks for returnees, evaluate their condition and establish appropriate engagement approaches accordingly.

Good Practice # 17 - Strengthen investigations and prosecutions of FTFs, when appropriate, through improved information sharing and evidence gathering.

Good Practice # 18 - Prepare and exercise responses to the kinds of terrorist acts for which FTFs may have special skills.

* Global Counterterrorism Forum (2014). "Foreign Terrorist Fighters" (FTF) Initiative The Hague - Marrakech Memorandum on Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the FTF Phenomenon .
 

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