South Asia:  Working towards international cooperation in terrorism prevention 

Since 2011, UNODC has been engaging with Governments in South Asia with the aim to strengthen counter-terrorism efforts at the national and regional level.  In a series of regional workshops, UNODC has brought together policy-makers and criminal justice officers from the region and experts from across the world to share experiences and practices in a variety of aspects critical to an effective response to terrorism. The workshops dealt with the international legal framework against terrorism, the use of internet for terrorism purposes, the design and implementation of witness protection policies and mechanisms, as well as the need for victim assistance programmes.

In March 2015, UNODC together with the Executive Directorate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTED) and the Government of Nepal held a workshop for South Asian countries on 'Strengthening International Cooperation in Criminal Matters with a Focus on Terrorism Cases' in Kathmandu, Nepal. The workshop brought together high-level experts and officials from all eight SAARC countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka who contributed and shared their experience in their daily work in the area of international and regional cooperation in criminal matters. Experts from INTERPOL and the Commonwealth Secretariat presented their respective cooperation mechanisms, such as the Commonwealth London and Harare Schemes, including case work and live examples. Each country delegation provided the workshop participants with information on their existing national legislative frameworks and mechanisms for international cooperation with a particular focus on mutual legal assistance and extradition.  While acknowledging the need for such formal mechanisms, workshop participants also underlined the importance of establishing and using ways of informal cooperation.

The workshop was appreciated by the participants as an opportunity to interact with their counterparts from many countries and institutions, establish a channel of communication and build trust among themselves with the aim to facilitate future mutual cooperation. It also served as a platform for reflection as to the identification of possible gaps and required amendments to existing frameworks.

The workshop was conducted under the UNODC Global Project titled: "Strengthening the legal regime against terrorism", with financial support from the United States of America.