As part of a series of policy briefs collaboratively produced by the Global Center and the Royal United Services Institute, Claudia Wallner examines the relationship between the global far right, Russia, and the war in Ukraine. In her brief, she analyzes the ways in which the perception of Putin’s actions among the international far right, as well as the relationships that existed with Russia, has shifted since the beginning of the war. In addition to the far-right reactions to Russia’s denazification claims and the immediate conflict, she also looks at the reactions of the far right to issues such as sanctions on Russia and the energy crisis that has resulted from the war. Building on this analysis, she outlines key trends and narratives that have been developed or strengthened through the war and that will likely remain in the far-right discourse in the future.
Among other efforts, the Global Center is currently leading a global process to engage civil society around the work of the United Nations on countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism, with the goal of establishing a mechanism by which civil society can advocate, inform, and hold states accountable on counterterrorism.
Separately, on 9 March, 2023, the Global Center organized a high-level event at the UN Headquarters to inform the negotiations on the future of UN counterterrorism efforts. An all-women civil society panel briefed member states and UN entities on the importance of inclusive, human rights-based approaches to counterterrorism, which need to account for the negative impacts on civic space, humanitarian action, and human rights defenders.
In 2022, the Global Center is continuing its thematic roundtable series, which promotes interactive, informal discussions on substantive issues and new developments relating to violent extremism, terrorism, and counterterrorism with guest speakers representing the United Nations, national governments, civil society, and the private sector. These roundtables are part of the Global Center’s work on promoting and protecting human rights, safeguarding civic space, and advancing rule-of-law based approaches to countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism. In addition to the events below, the Global Center also hosted a roundtable in March 2022 on the implications of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. More information about this roundtable is available here.
Should you have any questions regarding the roundtable series, please contact Ms. Franziska Praxl-Tabuchi at email@example.com
14 December 2022: Using Transitional Justice Approaches in Complex Conflict Settings Involving Terrorist Groups: The Iraqi Example
The Global Center, in partnership with the International Peace Institute (IPI), hosted a virtual discussion on using transitional justice approaches in complex conflict settings involving terrorist group, focusing on examples from the Iraqi context. This virtual roundtable brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, including UN representatives, member-states, and civil society experts. The key objectives of this roundtable included: 1) exploring a “One-UN” approach to sustaining peace in contexts where armed groups designated as “terrorist” operate; 2) enhancing a community-based and victim-centered approach to justice and reconciliation efforts in Iraq; and 3) informing the development of the Secretary-General’s note on transitional justice. Participants highlighted the way transitional justice approaches could offer new opportunities that would strike a balance between the demand for justice and accountability on the one hand, and reintegration and reconciliation on the other. During the first session, UNITAD presented on the ongoing justice and reconciliation efforts in Iraq highlighting the challenges and gaps of existing prosecutorial mechanisms at the national level and the impacts on a long-term peace. A civil society representative from Iraq shared concrete examples of reintegration processes of Iraqi foreign fighters and their families at the national and local level. The intervention highlighted the lack of involvement of civil society actors, affected communities and victims in the justice and reconciliation efforts. The second session focused on the role of the UN in supporting a community-based, victim-centered, and rights-based approach to justice and reconciliation in Iraq. Interventions highlighted the opportunities that transitional justice could create for improving accountability and access to justice to victims, contrasting examples from Iraq with experiences from Columbia and other regions.
28 June 2022: Applying a Transitional Justice Approach in Terrorism-Related Contexts to Ensure Sustainable Peace
The Global Center, in partnership with IPI, hosted a virtual discussion on applying a transitional justice approach in terrorism-related contexts to ensure sustainable peace. Panelists highlighted challenges, successes, and possible opportunities of transitional justice approaches in counterterrorism efforts through concrete examples and case studies focusing especially on Iraq and Syria and the Lake Chad Basin. The panel took stock of the current discussions at the international, regional, and national level, highlighting the overarching objectives of transitional justice vis-à-vis counterterrorism measures in conflict, post conflict and peaceful settings. Panelists shared their reflections and highlighted avenues to explore as part of broader reconciliation and reintegration efforts to complement judicial approaches to promote community recognition, acceptance and reduce the chances of stigmatization of people formerly associated with terrorist groups. They also addressed the challenges of using transitional justice tools including concerns around the potential “mission-creep” of counterterrorism into peacebuilding and the prioritization of terrorism-related offenses over other offenses in the transitional justice process. IPI highlighted their recent report on the risks former combatants face during the reintegration process and how designating an armed group as a terrorist organization can impact these risks. The recording of the event can be found here.
Featured Speakers: Ms. Marsin Alshamary (Harvard Kennedy School), Mr. Roger Duthie (International Center for Transitional Justice), Dr. Siobhan O’Neil (United Nations University), Mara Revkin (Duke University), Professor Issa Saibou (University of Maroua)
03 March 2022: Launch of the 2022 Global Terrorism Index
In its first roundtable of 2022, the Global Center co-organized the launch of the 2022 Global Terrorism Index together with the Institute for Economics & Peace, the United States Institute of Peace, and the RESOLVE Network, in collaboration with the Global Research Network of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED). The report’s key findings, including an increase in terrorist attacks and terrorism-related deaths in the Sahel and an increase in politically-motivated terrorism in the West, informed the discussion. Panelists and participants also discussed the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on terrorism, and the potential impacts of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Please find the recording of the launch here. Recordings from previous Global Terrorism Index events can be found here.
Featured speakers: Mr. Steve Killelea (Institute for Economics and Peace), Ms. Farah Kasim (CTED), Mr. Alastair Reed (United States Institute of Peace and RESOLVE Network)
This policy brief presents recommendations for a whole-of-society approach to the reintegration of former Boko Haram associates in Cameroon. The brief builds the Global Center’s engagement with local, national, and regional partners in Cameroon to strengthen the country’s response to terrorism in the Far North Region, a joint roundtable with the Centre for Peace, Security and Integration Studies of the University of Maroua, and other consultations. The Cameroonian case offers a window into the roles of different stakeholders in shaping and implementing efforts to reintegrate ex-associates and the challenges they face. This brief emphasizes the need to adapt to local specificities and to place communities at the heart of the process, which is particularly important in nontraditional disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration contexts such as the Lake Chad Basin, where peace agreements are absent and conflict is ongoing.
The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF)’s Gender and Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) Policy Toolkit was developed under the leadership of the GCTF CVE Working Group Co-Chairs, the governments of Australia and Indonesia, and implemented by the Global Center with support from Professor Jacqui True and a twelve-person Expert Project Advisory Committee. The Gender and P/CVE Policy Toolkit was developed to support the implementation of the Good Practices on Women and Countering Violent Extremism (2015) and the Addendum to the Good Practices on Women and Countering Violent Extremism, with a Focus on Mainstreaming Gender (2019) by providing practitioners and policymakers with relevant frameworks, good practices, and resources for designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating gender-responsive P/CVE policies and programs.
The Toolkit is based on the premise that mainstreaming gender is about ensuring inclusive, equitable participation and leadership of people of diverse gender and intersecting identities, while also recognizing the diversity within a group of individuals that identifies similarly. It is about accounting for the experiences, needs, and challenges of individuals and recognizing gender differences and inequalities, as well as intersecting factors, including socioeconomic, age, disability, ethnic, and cultural identities.
The threat of violent extremism, porous borders and vast coastlines, and interconnectivity by land, sea, and air has caused Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand to adopt strong governmental approaches to tackling violent extremism and terrorism within their jurisdictions. This report explores practical examples of how governments and civil society have cooperated across Southeast Asia to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals associated with violent extremism, including prisoners, detainees, and returnees. The case studies featured are examples of how governments and civil society have approached rehabilitation and reintegration across the five countries of focus, but are not intended as an assessment of the success or propriety of the actions taken nor as an embrace of the approach. Rather, they are meant to highlight discrete elements that may be informative as stakeholders consider ways to advance cooperation between governments and civil society.
Prisons around the world have seen an increase in individuals who are involved in violent extremism, presenting new challenges for authorities. In response, we work with several national prison services to develop human rights–based training programs to help staff identify violent extremist radicalization and recruitment in prisons and to support the management, rehabilitation, and reintegration of violent extremist prisoners.
This work began in 2017 in Morocco, where we trained the entirety of its prison system staff—approximately 9,000 individuals—across all prison facilities in the country. We also lead a unique program for all prison psychologists in Morocco, who can serve as critical agents in addressing the psychological risks and needs of violent extremist prisoners. Building on these successes, we have replicated the model in Indonesia, Kenya, and Trinidad and Tobago. Our program Kenya is underway to train all 30,000 prison staff around the country, delivered by Kenyan officers through a training-of-trainers framework designed to maximize institutional ownership and sustainability. In Indonesia, we implement a unique program for female prison officers managing violent extremist prisoners as well as an advanced training that has become the standard training program for prison staff posted to high security prisons. In Trinidad and Tobago, we supported the development of a national strategy to prevent violent extremism in prisons and designed and institutionalized a new curriculum for recruits.
From 21-30 June 2021, the United Nations organized the Second Counter-Terrorism Week and High-Level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States to accompany the negotiations and adoption of the seventh review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (UN GCTS).
Outside of the Security Council, the UN GCTS review is one of the few times where counterterrorism and preventing violent extremism (PVE) discussions take center stage involving all member states. The seventh review discussions were not exempt from the dynamics of deepening global polarization, with divergent positions on issues related to the repatriation of foreign fighters and their families, the shrinking of civic space, the promotion and protection of human rights and gender considerations, and how the UN system’s architecture can support member states in realizing their counterterrorism efforts. The adoption of the seventh review resolution demonstrates a commitment to consensus, but a closer inspection reveals significant cracks in the global approach – please find our analysis of and recommendations for the UN’s counterterrorism and PVE efforts here, and some reflections on the seventh review process here.
The three-day, part in-person, part-hybrid High-Level Conference focused on countering terrorism and PVE in the age of transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence and data capture techniques. Mr. Eelco Kessels, Global Center Executive Director, spoke at the High-Level Conference during Breakout Session C: The critical roles of civil society and local actors in building partnerships for prevention. His remarks referenced recent publications from the Global Center, including the fifth iteration of the Blue Sky report and the 2020 publication on Enhancing Civil Society Engagement. In his remarks, Mr. Kessels highlighted the importance of meaningful engagement of civil society in counterterrorism and PVE efforts; the negative impacts of counterterrorism and countering the financing of terrorism measures on civil society and civic space; and the need for multilateral organizations like the United Nations to model positive engagement and push back on counterterrorism and countering the financing of terrorism efforts that restrict civic space.
The week also included 36 side events, which were organized by a broad range of stakeholders, including member states, civil society organizations, and multilateral entities. These events drew attention to topics such as the rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist prisoners and the use of new technologies and the internet both by violent extremist groups and in PVE efforts. During the Counter-Terrorism Week, the Global Center hosted an official side event in collaboration with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Switzerland. The event, Enhancing Civil Society Engagement in Multilateral Counterterrorism and Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Efforts, was held virtually and attended by 150 people globally. The event featured remarks from Ms. Vanja Skoric (European Center for Not-for-Profit Law), Mr. Matthew Simonds (CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness), Ms. Marina Kumskova (Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict), and Ms. Amina Rasul (ASEAN Women for Peace Registry). The panelists reflected on their own experiences in working with multilateral organizations as members of civil society and shared obstacles, challenges, and opportunities for successful engagement between civil society and multilateral actors. Following the panel remarks, H.E. Mr. Vladimir Voronkov (Under-Secretary-General, United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism) and Ms. Elisa De Anda Madrazo (Vice President, Financial Action Task Force) offered their reflections on civil society engagement from the perspective of their respective multilateral institutions.
The event launched the global consultation process for a Global Center project with the same title as the event, supported by the Swiss government. A recording of the event is available below and on YouTube. An event transcript can be found here. For more information about this project, please contact Ms. Franziska Praxl-Tabuchi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning present both challenges and opportunities for terrorism and counterterrorism efforts. Violent extremists and other hostile actors can increasingly exploit emerging AI technologies to sow disinformation and exacerbate polarization, target humans and their information systems, manipulate data sets, and attack critical infrastructure. At the same time, the embrace of AI and machine learning by states in the service of counterterrorism has the potential to exacerbate concerns about profiling and human rights. This brief examines these threats and the ways that international organizations, including the United Nations, can and should protect against the misapplication of these technologies by states and nonstate actors alike.
In line with the Global Center’s 2021 Annual Report launch, a brief snapshot was developed to highlight the our organizational story, presence in the sector, and the whole-of-society approach to the work we do.
Our Space. Where do we focus and operate?
Concentrate on community level injustice, inequality, and disengagement anywhere in the world with local partners to counter conditions that breed and enable violent extremism.
Means. What is our operating model?
Programming, policy analysis, and advocacy to communities, policymakers, and influencers; strong and diverse alliances and local partnerships; independence; innovation.
Success. What makes the difference to those we serve?
Credibility and trusted expertise; informed, unbiased, high quality, and customized programs; consistent on-time project delivery; optimized funding efficiency.
Roadmap: How are we moving forward?
Enhancing awareness of our work; driving more multi-sectoral engagements to improve funding; increasing global capacity and programming; identifying and accelerating new partnerships.
Outcomes: What results do we expect from our work?
Communities that are more resilient to polarization and radicalization to violent extremism; stronger trust-based government and community collaboration that advances human rights and protects populations.