2021 is a landmark year for counterterrorism. Violent extremist attacks and recruitment are on the rise, the pandemic is exacerbating the root causes of violence and conflict, and repressive governments are exploiting the public health crisis. Securitization and surveillance tactics are being used disproportionately against racial, religious, and ethnic minority groups, aided by emerging technologies that can be co-opted for malign intent. These practices are not new—in fact, many mirror the restrictive measures in place since the dawn of the so-called “war on terror,” which has resulted in untold causalities and rampant violations of civil liberties.
Two decades into the failed war on terror, we are overdue to move beyond a militarized approach, confront the systemic injustices within our security and criminal justice sectors, and tackle these interconnected threats with inclusive responses. These realities require truly unprecedented cooperation.
The seventh review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy offers a critical moment to reflect on the UN’s role acting against the changing landscape of security. As the institution marks its 75th anniversary, the global landscape is punctuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, growing authoritarianism, shrinking civic space, and declining support for multilateralism. This report, the fifth in the “Blue Sky” series, explores how the UN’s comparative advantage can be leveraged to improve the policy development, interagency coordination, delivery, and impact of counterterrorism and preventing violent extremism efforts in support of the Strategy. The recommendations focus on (1) calibrating the UN counterterrorism architecture; (2) situating UN counterterrorism efforts within the prevention framework; (3) engaging and supporting civil society; (4) mainstreaming human rights; and (5) assessing the Strategy’s implementation.
Emerging threats to human rights and security triggered by artificial intelligence (AI) and data capture technologies will require peacebuilding and violence prevention actors to bridge the gap between early warning and response and anticipate new challenges. This policy brief examines how AI and data capture technologies can be positively harnessed and potentially misused, as the new paradigm of predictive behavioral analysis and population data capture is increasingly being presented as a solution to challenges in humanitarian action, conflict prevention, and counterterrorism.
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