UN counter terrorism wing to work with Saarc: FM

Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni on Thursday suggested that the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED) continues to remain engaged with the Saarc Secretariat towards undertaking some preparatory works for developing a regional action plan or strategy in line with the ‘Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy’. “In this context, a useful starting point could be to conduct a review of the counter-terrorism legislations in the South Asian countries,” she said.
The Foreign Minister was addressing at the opening session of the ‘International Counter-Terrorism Focal Points Conference on Addressing Conditions Conducive to Spread of Terrorism and Promoting Regional Cooperation’, in Geneva.
The Foreign Minister said the objective of this study should be to identify the areas of potential synergy, and not to make a critique of the perceived gaps in the existing laws, according to a message received here.
She urged CTITF (Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force) to explore the possibility of developing a regional mapping of possible terrorist threats in the South Asian region in consultation with the States concerned.
“We would suggest that some credible research organizations dealing with strategic security issues based in the region be involved in this exercise to enhance the accountability of its outcome.”
The Foreign Minister made some specific recommendations to further advance the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, particularly in the South Asian context.
Despite initiatives in place, it must be admitted that the counter-terrorism agenda under Saarc has not yet lived up to its true potentials, mainly for the same reasons why regional integration has not yet gained its desired traction in South Asia, Dipu Moni said.
She said the CTITF could help develop a voluntary Code of Conduct for civil society engagement in counter-terrorism efforts that could help guard against possible abuse of NGOs or NPOs for terrorist financing and could foster greater GO-NGO cooperation; “CTITF could develop a repository of good practices from around the world concerning effective measures to counter extremism and radicalization, with particular focus on education and cultural orientation strategies, as well as public awareness building and community mobilization efforts.”
She also said the human rights dimension should be better integrated in the counter-terrorism discourse with the dual objective of reversing the dehumanization of the victims of terrorism and ensuring that the legal regimes to combat terrorism uphold the fundamental rights of both the victims and perpetrators.
“Human rights protection need not be perceived as an obstacle to effective counter-terrorism efforts but can rather be framed as an essential element of any sustainable counter-terrorism strategy.”
She said Bangladesh believes the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy can serve as a mooring point for situating the different regional and national counter-terrorism strategies around its four pillars.
“It is only logical that every region or State would approach this process guided by its own strategic security concerns and priorities. We firmly believe that the ongoing momentum of work within the South Asian context would also reach its logical conclusion when the time is righted. (Source: UNB)

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