Inter-parliamentary conference addresses evolving nature of terrorist threats during COVID-19 pandemic

CT conference Lopatka 150421Reinhold LopatkaДля получения русской версии нажмите здесь.

COPENHAGEN, 15 April 2021 – Terrorism trends in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic were the focus of a high-level online international parliamentary conference today. Featuring the participation of some 40 OSCE parliamentarians, including several members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism (CCT), the conference explored how to prevent violent extremism, boost international action in the field of countering terrorism and support victims of terrorism.

The event, entitled “Global Challenges and Threats in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Terrorism and Violent Extremism,” was co-organized by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA-CIS), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and the UN Office for Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT). It followed similar events organized in 2017 and 2019, focused on various terrorism-related themes.

Addressing the opening plenary, CCT Chair Reinhold Lopatka (Austria) said that countering terrorism is a widely shared priority. “Despite our political differences, fighting terrorism and violent extremism is high on the agendas of all our governments,” Lopatka said. “On the one hand, we cannot truly make progress on many global security issues if we are incapable of even protecting our own citizens. On the other, terrorist organizations respect no borders and are keen to exploit our weaknesses to their advantage, with their harmful ideas spreading from one country to another.” He warned that political divisions in the OSCE area only serve to strengthen terrorists.

CT conference Vandorme 150421Aude Bono-VandormeA joint session with PAM on “Assessing the Terrorist Threat and Efforts to Prevent Violent Extremism” featured remarks by OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella and CCT Vice-Chair Aude Bono-Vandorme (France). Montella underlined the importance of inter-parliamentary dialogue in building synergies against terrorism, noting that international co-operation and collaboration in the fight against terrorism is not only a matter of good practice, but is actually the most convenient and effective way to operate in order to effectively counter this heinous threat.

Bono-Vandorme stressed that inter-parliamentary forums such as today’s conference are vital in building international consensus on issues including internet governance and the development of instruments such as legal obligations and voluntary self-regulation. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a game-changer in boosting terrorist propaganda worldwide, with the internet offering growing opportunities for terrorists and violent extremists to foster their online reach,” Bono-Vandorme said. “The internet has been used by terrorist and extremists to call for new attacks, glorify terrorist acts, increase recruitment operations, stigmatize minorities, and above all, disseminate false and discriminatory information.”

To counter these trends, she said, effective policies are needed to bridge legal loopholes in national counter-terrorism frameworks and develop targeted strategies to respond to cyberterrorism in a human rights-compliant manner.

Teresa Jiménez-Becerril (Spain) spoke about promoting and protecting the rights of victims of terrorism and addressing their needs. Recalling her first-hand experience dealing with the trauma of terrorist attacks, she stressed that victims of terrorism can greatly contribute to shaping the wide range of pertinent national policies and processes. “In fact,” she said, “counter-terrorism efforts cannot be successful unless victims of terrorism are included in a truly meaningful way. They can sensitize public opinion and create positive narratives in our societies, which then provide good alternatives to the dangerous messages and ideologies spread by the terrorist groups.”

CT conference Ryzhak 150421.jpgNikolai RyzhakSpeaking at the closing session, Nikolai Ryzhak (Russian Federation) reiterated the OSCE PA's strong commitment to promoting critical engagement and targeted actions against terrorism and violent extremism, leveraging the unique assets of parliamentarians. The challenges stemming from new technologies are critical for the future, he said, as it is important to anticipate future trends to best prevent them. International co-operation and co-ordination at all levels, he stressed, is important in this regard.

Discussions during the conference focused on legal mechanisms of international co-operation in countering terrorism, assessing the terrorist threat, efforts to prevent violent extremism, and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 200 participants took part, highlighting progress that many countries have made in updating and upgrading their national policies and legislation on counter-terrorism, but stressed that given the evolving nature of the terrorist threat, policy-makers must regularly review and update national strategies and legislation to effectively address new and emerging trends. This is particularly true, participants said, in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, which has exacerbated already existing vulnerabilities and laid the conditions through which terrorists and violent extremists can more easily spread their destructive ideology and promote further divisions and radicalization.

The need to find the right balance between effective security measures and full respect for constitutional and international human rights standards was also emphasized, as well as the importance of bringing terrorists to justice, especially those stranded in conflict-affected areas.

Participants at the conference included Valentina Matvienko, Chair of the IPA-CIS Council, Hon. Rik Daems, President of PACE, Sen. Alia Bouran President Emeritus of PAM, Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office (UNOCT), and heads of international organizations and speakers of national parliaments.

To watch the video of the OSCE PA-PAM session, please click here.

For more information of the work of the OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism, please click here.



Нэт Пэрри

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