VIENNA, 20-21 April 2021 — The annual OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Conference, organized by Sweden’s 2021 OSCE Chairpersonship with the support of the Action against Terrorism Unit of the OSCE Transnational Threats Department, gathered more than 500 participants including high-level representatives and experts from governments, state agencies, the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations, as well as representatives from the public and private sector, civil society, and academia.
Over the two-day Conference, participants shared good practices and lessons learned and explored ways to reinforce a comprehensive approach in preventing and countering terrorism and 'Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism' (P/VERLT) that is a vital part of the OSCE’s anti-terrorism activities. “Terrorism is cruelty in its purest form. Innocent people are the target, and the sites of attack are difficult to predict. The aim is to instill fear in the population, and to destabilize our societies at the expense of peace and security,” said Ann Linde, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), stated “Terrorism continues to pose a great threat to international peace and security. The pandemic has magnified some of the terrorism strengths, exacerbating its underlined drivers because of its social and economic consequences (…). We must emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger and more unified in our collective fight against terrorism. Respect for human rights and rule of law and civil society are inalienable parts of our effort. The United Nations is committed to strengthen its inter-agency coordination under the Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact.
In July 2020, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger and the Executive Director of UNODC, Ghada Fathi Waly, signed a plan of joint action for the period 2020-2022. This OSCE-UNODC Joint Action Plan reflects the two organizations’ contributions to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and allows for more streamlined co-operation in nine subject areas, including ‘combating transnational organized crime and corruption, preventing and countering violent extremism leading to terrorism’.
During her intervention, Alexandra Martins, Head of the UNODC Global Programme to End Violence Against Children, stressed: “there is a need to ensure that the legal and policy framework can concomitantly protect society as well as children from the threats associated with terrorism. States should also invest in multi-sectoral and coordinated responses, by adopting child- and gender-sensitive approaches, and in fostering reconciliation and social cohesion in affected families and communities.” The UNODC Global Programme has been addressing specific efforts to increase the protection of children from terrorism and violent extremism, through tools such as the UNODC Roadmap on the Treatment of Children Associated with Terrorist and Violence Extremist Groups.
Over the course of the Conference, participants explored how to address violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism, including tools for preventing terrorism online with a human rights framework, and how to break the cycle and move away from violent extremism and stand up for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
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