Special Meeting of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee
December 13, 2018
Taking place at United Nations Headquarters on 13 December 2018, a Special Meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee on “Security Council Resolution 2396 (2017): Review of the Madrid Guiding Principles” took place with Member and Observer States, members of the media, United Nations staff, UN entities, intergovernmental organizations, and specialized agencies, as well as invited guests from outside the UN community.
The Soufan Center was invited to participate in a session on ‘Global Research Perspectives on Cross-Cutting Trends, Issues, Developments, and Threats,’. Representing The Soufan Center, Ali Soufan briefed the United Nations Security Council on current threats and challenges regarding the foreign fighters phenomenon and shared the findings and recommendations from the Forum on Returning Foreign Fighters held in Doha, Qatar, from 30-31 October 2018. In his remarks, Ali Soufan shared several key findings from the conference:
1. Good policy is informed by good data. Researchers based in the regions where threats are greatest are an essential component for providing governments and multilateral bodies with the data and numbers they need to enact smart and effective policies.
2. Terrorism and the foreign fighter phenomenon, in particular, are complex issues requiring nuanced responses. These are global problems but they require local solutions. Further, these are whole-of-society challenges that require whole-of-society responses. Interventions at the individual, family, community, city, and nation-state levels are necessary.
3. Narratives resonate when people feel like their own experience bears them out. For extremist narratives to not hold sway, a focus on good governance, equality and equity, along with top-down and bottom-up approaches to creating integration and resulting societal cohesion, are necessary.
4. The exchange of information among governments is of particular importance. Many governments still have insufficient tools to address the problem of inadequate information sharing.
5. We must recognize the cyclical nature of terrorism. While counter-terrorism professionals might prefer to view the threat as linear, the reality is often much more complex. The twin problems of stigmatization and sectarianism, both of which fragment society, are rife in present-day Iraq and Syria. In order to stem the cycle of violence and eliminate the push and pull factors of radicalization, this fragmenting of society must stop.