• International terrorism refers to terrorism that goes beyond national boundaries in terms of the methods used, the people that are targeted or the places from which the terrorists operate.
  • International Terrorism is the use of criminal violence across the globe to threaten people or force a government to change its policy. It can be based on political or ideological philosophies.

Global Initiatives to Counter terrorism

  • United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS): Adopted in the form of a General Assembly resolution in 2006, it is a unique global instrument that aims to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. It consists of four pillars (refer infographic).
  • UNSC Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC): It is tasked with monitoring implementation of resolution 1373 (2001). The resolution requested countries to implement measures to enhance ability to counter terrorist activities at home, in their regions and around the world.
  • Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF): GCTF (India is a member) is an informal, apolitical, multilateral platform that facilitates open discussions among stakeholders, bringing together experts and practitioners from across the world’s regions.
  • United Nations Countering Terrorist Travel Programme: It is a flagship global initiative of the United Nations Office of Counterterrorism (UNOCT) that assists Member States in building their capabilities to detect and counterterrorists. This is achieved by using international databases, like INTERPOL databases.
  • Financial Action Task Force (FATF): It is the international standard-setter for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism to build and implement international standards in this regard.
  • SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS): It develops and strengthens cooperation with international and regional organizations to consolidate efforts towards counter terrorism, separatism and extremism.
  • Global Terrorism index (GTI): Produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), it is a comprehensive study analysing the impact of terrorism to better understand and guide required policy responses.
  • Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT): It intends to criminalise all forms of international terrorism, denial of safe havens, access to funds, and arms to terrorists and the financiers of terrorism.
    • It is proposed by India on 17 December 1996 in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Challenges to counter international terrorism

  • Ambiguity around definition of ‘terrorism’: There is no internationally agreed definition of the term “terrorism”.
    • This results in overly broad and vague definitions of terrorism in national legislation around the globe.
  • Lack of comprehensive legal framework: The international legal framework related to terrorism is not consolidated in a comprehensive UN treaty.
    • It is instead found in various sources such as treaties, Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, and jurisprudence.
  • Inadequate domestic capacity: Terrorist crimes fall in the category of national criminal law. Without adequate domestic capacity to discharge that duty, counterterrorism efforts remain ineffective.
  • Restriction of civic freedoms: 2019 Human Rights Council report has shown how counter terrorism measures adversely impacts civic space, violating the rights of civil society actors and human rights defenders.
  • Terrorism financing: Effectively countering the financing of terrorism presents numerous new and persistent challenges for States.

Way Forward

  • Enhance state Capacity to Prevent and Combat Terrorism
    • Strengthen the capacity of existing institutions;
    • Identify gaps in state capacity to prevent and combat terrorism;
    • Enhance multidisciplinary cooperation between law enforcement agencies;
    • Reform and modernization of border management systems.
  • Focus on role of Regional and International Organizations in Addressing State Capacity
    • Share best practices and address gaps in providing technical assistance to states;
    • Support to improve compliance with international norms and obligations and facilitate the implementation of international conventions and protocols;
    • Provide training activities on organized crime, money laundering and drug trafficking;
    • Improve the coherence and efficiency of technical assistance delivery.
    • Enhance coordination within the United Nations system in promoting international cooperation in countering terrorism.
  • Integrate gender into counterterrorism
    • Actively promote the integration of the agendas on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism;
    • Including a gender perspective in countering terrorism requires a focus on
      • Women and girls as victims of terrorism;
      • Women as perpetrators, facilitators, and supporters of terrorism;
      • Women as agents in preventing and countering terrorism and
      • Differential impact of counter-terrorism strategies on women and women’s rights.
  • Ensure protection of human rights
    • Protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of counter-terrorism measures.
    • Promote idea that respecting human rights while countering terrorism is critical to the ultimate success of any counter-terrorism strategy.
  • Public Awareness and Cooperation
    • Raising public awareness about the threat of terrorism and about universal counterterrorism instruments.
    • Establishment of public-private partnerships between state authorities, the private sector (business community, industry), civil society and the media, where appropriate.
    • The UN Security Council should expressly clarify that humanitarian protection and assistance must never be conceptualized as support to terrorism.
    • Civil society must be engaged while developing resolutions on counter-terrorism.

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