Overcoming Challenges & Threats: Agenda of Central Asian States

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The map of challenges and threats has been changed with the change of the global order following the end of the Cold War, with the emergence of new patterns of challenges and threats, which unfortunately become more complicated. In this article I will try to clarify for readers the most important new threats facing the whole world, and the role of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in strengthening relations between Member States to confront these threats.

Among these threats and challenges are terrorism, transnational organized crime, internal conflicts, security of information and communication technologies, epidemiological safety, public health and pharmaceutical issues, arms trafficking, and illicit drug flow.

Terrorism represents the most dangerous threat to the national security, as well as to regional and global security, the stability of the international community, works to provoke human vitriol on a global scale, and is one of the most important factors of tension in international relations between peoples and states.

Terrorism overlap and cooperates with organized crime. Terrorist groups today are characterized by flexibility, adaptability, and professionalism, using social networks, cyber hacking, and chemical, biological, and radiological materials to achieve their goals and carry out their operations.

Unfortunately, despite the victory over some major terrorist organizations, by defeating Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the threat of splinter branches and sleeper cells of these organizations still exists, and they are still operating clandestinely and spreading their extremist ideology, helped along by the re-positioning of the foreign fighters, who moved from one conflict area to another.

The Global Terrorism Index for 2020, indicated that despite the decrease in the activity of ISIS in general, a sudden increase in terrorist operations was observed during the years 2019-2020 in many regions of the world in Africa, New Zealand, the United States, Germany, Iraq, Syria and other countries.

Considering this complex reality, no country in the world can face these threats alone, therefore, the cooperation of the international community represented by governments, international and regional organizations and civil society institutions is a must to confront these threats firmly and rigorously.

Confronting terrorism begins primarily by addressing the roots and causes of extremism, and researching the political, social, cultural and environmental backgrounds that contribute to the spread of extremism. In addition, achieving a just and lasting peaceful settlement of unresolved conflicts that fuel feelings of anger and frustration among people, who suffer from injustice and occupation will diminish the appeal of extremism.

Combating terrorism cannot be done using the military only, but rather several approaches should be used in parallel. Education should emphasize values ​​such as moderation, tolerance. Media should develop, produce, and publish realistic, scientific, and attractive content for use on global communication platforms and media channels to expose and defeat extremist groups’ media propaganda.

In addition to that, a preventive dimension should be added by immunizing societies from the tampering of criminal gangs and extremists, and here appears the role of civil institutions, religious institutions, mosques, and churches, to call for respecting pluralism and human rights, for spreading a culture of tolerance, and having respect for others. In addition, the national legislation should be amended to promote democracy, freedom, political pluralism, social justice, and respect for human rights.

The United Nations has been responsible for leading global efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism since 2001, when the Security Council adopted Resolution 1373 immediately after the September 11 attacks, working to strengthen coordination among all relevant parties, and to assess the extent of the implementation of Security Council resolutions, and to improve the measures taken by each country in this regard to confront this dangerous threat.

Like other international institutions concerned with promoting peace and security in the world, The Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia CICA has taken several steps and measures, in coordination with Member States, to countering terrorism, and become an important international platform for promoting peace and security in Asia, and in order to play a more effective role in this field, it is in the process of being transformed into a full-fledged international organization.

At the first summit, the CICA Declaration on Eliminating Terrorism and Promoting Dialogue between Civilizations was adopted on June 4, 2002.

The CICA Catalogue also referred to the adoption of cooperative measures among Member States to take the necessary steps to strengthen combating terrorism in all its forms, and the exchange of information related to combating terrorism and transnational organized crime, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, international law, and the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Special attention has been made during the last three decades by CICA, to developing actions and exchanging views regarding the dimension of new emerging threats and challenges. Among these actions are the various conferences, seminars, and workshops, which are held in coordination with Member States, to enhance cooperation in countering terrorism, and to find the best ways and appropriate measures to combat terrorism and extremism.

Several virtual and face to face specialized meetings were held by the Senior Officials Committee, the Special Working Group and other CICA institutions, where they discussed action plans related to countering terrorism and coordinating positions among Member States in this regard, as well as the development of cooperation between the CICA Member States for implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

One or these meetings was the “Regional cooperation of Central Asian countries within the framework of the Joint Action Plan for the Implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy,” which was held in Tashkent on March 2022, with a distinguished delegation headed by the Executive Director Ambassador Kairat Sarybay.

On the sidelines of the conference, several meetings were held between the Executive Director with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counterterrorism. Mechanisms of cooperation to combat terrorism between CICA and these officials were discussed in depth.

The online conference titled “The Role of Youth in Countering Radicalism, Extremism and Terrorism”, was held in Tashkent on Feb. 18, 2021, in the framework of CICA’s “New Challenges and Threats” agenda to establish strong cooperation among Member States to combat terrorism and extremism. The participants emphasized the need for close collaboration among Member States to protect young people and the future generation from the destructive influence of terrorism and extremism.

The virtual Specialized Meeting on Development of cooperation between the CICA Member States for implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, was attended by heads of government agencies, institutions and organizations of the CICA Member States in the field of combating terrorism and high-level experts. The draft CICA Plan of Action on the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, has been reviewed by participants, who have agreed to continue working on the draft, and to reach a consensus about this document and to finalize it by the Sixth CICA Meeting of Heads of State or Government in Nur-Sultan on Oct. 12-13, 2022.