Lasting Peace and Stability Require Engagement with Communities and Local Leaders

Over the last decades, the threat of terrorism has become more diverse, dispersed, and complex. Traditional military and security-centric approaches to dismantling terrorist organizations may diffuse the threat, but they are also inherently reactive and have reinforced cycles of violence. To effectively prevent and mitigate terrorism, the Global Center believes that governments, civil society, and the private sector need to work together to address the conditions of instability and injustice that allow terrorist groups and ideologies to emerge and expand in the first place. In a Security Management article, Executive Director Eelco Kessels outlines the Global Center’s work focusing on women’s roles in preventing violent extremism, countering terrorism financing, improving criminal justice systems, and engaging with youth leaders. It describes the organization’s capacity to lead innovative programs that serve communities and groups most affected by conflict and terrorism.

Dear Friends,

In 2023, the world grappled with a number of crises that demand action. It shows that our commitment to advancing a just and secure world has never been more important.   

Violence plagues the Middle East and Ukraine, while several coups intensified instability on the African continent. Divisions among global leaders are exposed by failures to make meaningful progress on the climate crisis, food security, and the governance of artificial intelligence. Human rights are under attack globally, at a time of increasing polarization, hate speech, and disinformation. 

I am reaching out today with a humble request to make a tax-deductible donation to the Global Center on Cooperative Security before the end of this year. No gift is too small to make a difference.

The Global Center promotes a human rights-based approach to security partnering with those most affected by terrorism and violent extremism worldwide. In 2023, among other achievements, we were able to:

  • Strengthen the capacity of public and private entities in Jordan, Albania, and North Macedonia to prevent terrorism financing.

But we cannot do our work without your support that will enable us to strengthen peace and security where it is most needed.

On behalf of the Global Center, I would like to thank you for your contribution and wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season and a peaceful 2024.

With gratitude,
Eelco Kessels
Executive Director

During the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly, the Global Center organized and participated in numerous events on the margins of the High-Level Week. The Global Center organized a closed briefing on its work on realizing more inclusive and consistent civil society engagement with the United Nations on counterterrorism issues, which included findings from an ongoing scoping project the Global Center is conducting in partnership with Rights and Security International. The Global Center also participated in several Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) meetings during High-Level week which covered topics including border security management, women’s role in peacebuilding, and the right to fair trial in counterterrorism cases. It offered an opportunity to highlight the Global Center’s work in these domains, including the implementation of the Gender and Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Toolkit through the development of a training curriculum for policymakers and practitioners.

The Global Center joined the Strong Cities Network’s Fourth Global Summit, which brought much-needed local perspectives to UN and GCTF discussions. The Global Center is pleased to have collaborated with the Strong Cities Network on its outreach and engagement, most recently in Southeast Asia.

Global Center staff also joined a number of events on a wide range of topics related to violent extremism and terrorism, including the relationship between climate change and violent extremism, and the role of artificial intelligence and other technologies in counterterrorism.

Between 2020-2023, the Global Center, National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Kenya Prison Service (KPS), and Kenyan Legal Resources Foundation developed, validated, then delivered a Countering Violent Extremism in Prisons (CVE-P) Awareness Raising Course to over 30,000 KPS staff and new recruits at over 130 prisons. Through the training of 80 trainers from prisons across Kenya and a coordinated rollout among all key KPS officials, the program built a system-wide baseline among KPS staff on understanding and awareness of violent extremism in prisons.

 

Some key program accomplishments include:

  • A system-wide awareness of violent extremism in prisons: As of July 2023, the training program reached over 30,000 KPS officers across all stations in Kenya, as well as at KPS Headquarters and the training college, on the prevention, identification, and mitigation of violent extremism in prisons. Approximately 99% of all Kenyan prison officers have received the course.
  • Partnership-driven: The CVE-P Awareness-Raising Course has been co-developed by the Global Center, KPS, and NCTC, with support from the Kenyan Legal Resources Foundation. Throughout its pilot and rollout, it consistently integrated feedback from trainers and prison staff to ensure the training is relevant, localized, and nationally owned. According to the Commissioner General of Prisons, the course was the biggest and most successful training program for the KPS to date. 
  • Creation of national training team: Through a comprehensive identification, training, evaluation, and certification process, the program established a team of 80 Kenyan trainers posted at prison stations in all regions of Kenya. This training team is capable of delivering the course at the Training College and in their stations on an ongoing basis. The training team is also an asset of the KPS that can be called upon in CVE matters and when additional or refresher training is needed. 
  • Improved coordination between KPS Headquarters and stations: In addition to raising service-wide awareness, the program generated secondary outcomes that improved the functioning of the KPS. Through the comprehensive coordination processes undertaken, the program directly improved information flow between prisoners and prison staff and between prison stations and headquarters, with officers and station heads sharing more information on issues and concerns about violent extremism.

In August 2023, it was estimated that more than 5 million people were internally displaced in Ukraine and more than 6.1 million people have become refugees since the start of the conflict. In addition to the implications on the civilian populations of Ukraine and its bordering countries, the Russian invasion has far-reaching implications for international politics and the global financial system, as well as for multilateral peace and security, including counterterrorism efforts.  

Building on a March 2022 roundtable event on the impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Global Center, in partnership with the Royal United Services Institute, produced a series of policy briefs examining some of the wider dynamics of this conflict. The policy brief series reflects on topics beyond the immediate geostrategic impacts of the invasion, including on gendered stereotypes and narratives employed in the conflict and responses to it, foreign fighters traveling to the region, and reactions of the global far-right to the war in the Ukraine.

 
 

For any inquiries regarding this policy brief series, please contact Ms. Franziska Praxl-Tabuchi at fpraxl@globalcenter.org.

The United Nations organized the Third Counter-Terrorism Week and High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States at its headquarters in New York under the theme of  “Addressing Terrorism through Reinvigorated Multilateralism and Institutional Cooperation.” The Counter-Terrorism Week and High-Level conference coincided with the adoption of the eighth review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy on 22 June.

Throughout the week, the Global Center emphasized the importance of inclusive, human rights-based counterterrorism efforts and the need to engage civil society at all stages of counterterrorism policy and program design and delivery in a safe, sustained, and meaningful manner. The recently released Blue Sky VI report provides an independent analysis of the UN’s counterterrorism efforts, progress made since the seventh Strategy review in 2021, and recommendations to inform necessary improvements. Following the conclusion of the eight review process, Global Center Executive Director Eelco Kessels and Chief of Strategy Melissa Lefas provided further reflections in an Just Security article.

At the High-Level Conference:

Eelco Kessels was a panelist during session 1 on “Multistakeholder Engagement in Countering Terrorism while Ensuring Compliance with Human Rights and the Rule of Law.” In his remarks, Mr. Kessels highlighted the need to create an enabling environment for civil society to engage in counterterrorism efforts as a prerequisite for effective multistakeholder engagement. Their participation must occur at all stages of counterterrorism policy and program processes: from diagnosing the problem; to designing, developing, and implementing policy measures and community-centric programming; and evaluating the impact of policy and practice on communities affected by terrorism and counterterrorism alike, to understand both its positive and negative impacts.

Jihane Ben Yahia, Senior Legal Analyst with the Global Center, delivered an intervention during the conference’s fourth session on “Strengthening Capacity Building Programmes – Making Them Fit for Purpose to Meet Resilience Gaps.” Building on the organization’s 19 years of experience, she emphasized that the common goal in all counterterrorism capacity development should be to build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 16 and in furtherance of human rights and human security.

Over the course of the week, Global Center staff participated in a number of side events organized by member states, UN entities, and civil society organizations, including: 

Franziska Praxl-Tabuchi, Global Center’s Director of Multilateral Relations, joined the Launch of the Global Study on the Impact of Counter-Terrorism on Civil Society and Civic Space, and provided remarks which reflected on the need to remove barriers to civil society engagement and improve the environment to enable their participation.

Saeida Rouass, Global Center Senior Programs Officer, spoke at a side event which examined good practices for managing violent extremist prisoners. She shared several lessons learned from the Global Center’s work with the prison services of Morocco, Indonesia, and Kenya, including the importance of developing long-term institutional partnerships and the value of specialist assistance alongside core trainings for general prison staff.  

The Global Center co-organized a hybrid side event with Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the governments of Costa Rica, Denmark, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The event focused on inclusive civil-society engagement to support rights-based counterterrorism efforts at the United Nations and featured a panel of diverse civil society speakers. The panel was comprised of Mavic Cabrera Balleza, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders; Maji Peterx, Preventing and Transforming Violent Extremism Lead Facilitator and Coordinator, Carefronting Nigeria; and Khalid Ibrahim, Executive Director, Gulf Centre for Human Rights. The discussion brought forth practical recommendations to remove barriers to civil society engagement with the United Nations, including the importance of multidirectional information sharing, improved risk assessment and protection measures, and offering varied methods and platforms for input and participation. The event is part of an ongoing scoping project that the Global Center is conducting in partnership with Rights and Security International.

We are excited to welcome Tess McEnery to the Global Center’s Board of Directors.

Tess is Executive Director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to examining how genuine democracies can develop in the Middle East and North Africa. She has over 15 years of experience working on conflict prevention, stabilization, fragile states, elections, political transitions, and the strategic use of foreign assistance and foreign policy. Previously, she was twice Director for Democracy and Human Rights at the National Security Council and served in senior positions at the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

“We are thrilled to have Tess join our Board. Tess’ energy and significant career experience in policy and programming will bring important depth to the Board’s support of the Global Center’s work to deliver innovative, equitable, and evidence-based approaches to addressing violent extremism and advancing human rights.” – David McGowan, Chair of the Global Center’s Board of Directors

“I am thrilled to join the board of the Global Center and sound the clarion call that respect for human rights is crucial to preventing and countering violent extremism. As a strategy and process nerd, I look forward to supporting the Center’s efforts to make the case to funders, partners, and policymakers that an ounce of violence prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Tess McEnery

We are delighted to welcome Adeolu Adewumi-Zer to the Global Center’s Board of Directors.

As the former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Allianz Nigeria Insurance Ltd, a company the Allianz Group acquired while she was the Regional Head of Mergers, Acquisitions and Transformation Africa, Adeolu brings over two decades of purpose-driven leadership within financial services roles on four continents. She is developing the next generation of great African leaders, focusing on gender empowerment and financial inclusion, and acts as an ambassador, business mentor, and investor for Ashoka, the African Angel Academy, and VC4A.

“We are humbled to have Adeolu join our Board. Adeolu’s significant global executive experience corresponds closely with the Global Center’s operational focus around the world as well as with our work in financial integrity and inclusion and human rights. This experience and her action-oriented approach will bring another strong advocate and networking partner to our Board in support of the Global Center’s mission.” David McGowan, Chair of the Global Center’s Board of Directors

“I am thrilled to be joining the Global Center at this pivotal moment in their aspiration to build a more just and secure world–a world which can only be possible when violent extremism is no more. I look forward to driving this vision by advocating for accountable and transparent systems to promote the financial integrity necessary to significantly improve the economic empowerment in our most troubled regions, most critically for our women and youth.”Adeolu Adewumi-Zer

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 fpraxl@globalcenter.org

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)

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

As 2022 comes to an end, the world is confronted by complex crises ranging from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to crackdowns on protests in places like Iran and China and the rise in far-right violence in Europe and North America. During these uncertain and ever-changing times, the Global Center’s work is more important than ever before.

I am reaching out to ask if we can count on your support as we address the drivers of insecurity and violence while ensuring that human rights are front and center in counterterrorism policy and practice.

Across our work, the Global Center prioritizes those that are most affected by terrorism and counterterrorism measures. In 2022 alone, we were able to:

  • Directly engage over 21,317 policymakers, practitioners, and other stakeholders in a wide range of training activities, policy discussions, and strategic consultations.
  • Provide direct funding and support the work of 36 grassroots civil society organizations to lead localized conflict prevention initiatives in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Malaysia, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.
  • Successfully promote human rights language in UN resolutions to address the misuse and abuse of counterterrorism measures that stimy peaceful protests, impede humanitarian aid, and shrink civic space.

We cannot do this alone. As we look towards 2023, we ask for your support to continue our critical work advancing a different vision of counterterrorism that puts human rights front and center.

A gift to the Global Center is an investment in human security and justice. Please consider donating today.

On behalf of the Global Center team, I would like to thank you for your support and wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season and a bright 2023.

With gratitude,
Eelco Kessels
Executive Director