From 26-27 June, the UN General Assembly held its sixth biennial review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, concluding in the adoption of Resolution A/RES/72/284 by consensus. This was followed by a two-day High Level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States.
Throughout the week, the Global Center organized and engaged in various events to further the dissemination of the recommendations it provided in the report “Blue Sky IV: Clouds Dispersing?.” Building on its previous analyses of the UN’s counterterrorism programs, the Global Center, with the generous support of the governments of Norway, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, produced this independent report containing recommendations to support multilateral efforts to address terrorism and violent extremism in advance of the sixth review. In addition to identifying ways to improve the development, coordination, delivery, and impact of the UN’s efforts, the report looks at what can be done to ensure that the sixth review can be used to more systematically to assess the effectiveness of UN efforts to support the implementation of the Strategy at headquarters, on the ground, and, importantly, between the two. The Blue Sky IV report was launched on Tuesday 15 May 2018 at the United Nations, with responses from senior officials of a range of UN agencies. A video recording of this event can be found here.
On Thursday 28 June, the Global Center and the Prevention Project, with the support of the governments of Norway and Sweden, hosted a side-event at the United Nations Headquarters, which was informed by a closed-door expert-level workshop on Wednesday 27 June. The conversations during the workshop and side-event were oriented towards developing a series of concrete, policy-relevant recommendations for promoting and protecting human rights and safeguarding and expanding civil society spaces while countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism. Participants included the UN Special Rapporteurs for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism and on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions; human rights defenders and other civil society actors, including from Afghanistan, Kenya, Pakistan, Tunisia, and Uganda; representatives from international human rights and democracy organizations and think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, Amnesty International, Article 19, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Center for International Studies, FIDH, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, and the Open Society Justice Initiative; and representatives from the United Nations, including the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, the Office of Counter-Terrorism, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. A meeting summary can be found here and a video recording of the side-event can be found here.
On Friday 29 June, Global Center and partner organizations participated in a panel discussion on the rehabilitation and reintegration of returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters, hosted by the Permanent Mission of the United States Mission to the United Nations. Prior to this event, the Global Center published an article, Civil Society’s Role in Rehabilitation and Reintegration Related to Violent Extremism, providing a roadmap for how governments can engage civil society in rehabilitation and reintegration efforts. A more comprehensive report on this topic is forthcoming, and will include a range of case studies and local examples from across the world.
During the second day of the UN High-Level Conference, Global Center Executive Director Eelco Kessels delivered remarks that highlighted the positive steps taken on certain fronts in relation to the implementation of the GCTS and the impact of the UN’s counterterrorism efforts, while also urging the United Nations to put human rights, fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, and civil society participation at the core of its counterterrorism approach. Read Mr. Kessels full remarks here; a video recording of the statement is also available.
The Global Center subsequently signed on to a letter by a range of non-governmental organizations echoing these sentiments.