On October 30, 2019, Moscow hosted the International Conference “On the Role and Character of Interaction of International and Regional Organizations in the Fight against International Terrorism”, organized by the Secretariat of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
The conference was attended by representatives of the leadership of the UN Counter-Terrorism Directorate and other relevant structural units of the UN, OSCE, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Interpol, the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism (EAG), Executive Committee of the CIS, CIS ATC, the Secretariat and the RATS SCO, CICA. The forum was also attended by representatives of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the Secretariat of the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly, and the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The central theme of the conference was the discussion of the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the establishment of international cooperation in the global security system, and the improvement of mechanisms to counter the challenges of international terrorism and related extremism.
Addressing the forum participants, the Acting Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Mr. Valery Semerikov, said that the main lesson that teaches all the accumulated experience in countering international terrorism is the need to increase collective efforts in the fight against terrorism without double standards and various exceptions based on the rigorous implementation of anti-terrorism resolutions UN Security Council and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. It is important in this matter to act in accordance with the “Code of Conduct for Achieving a World Free from Terrorism," initiated by the Republic of Kazakhstan. To date, over 80 countries have supported this initiative.
With an integrated global-regional approach to the problems of modern international security, including in the fight against terrorism, it is important not to oppose these components, but to strive to find a dialectical relationship between the public and the private, said the CSTO Acting Secretary General.
He emphasized the interaction and development of relations in the field of countering terrorism and extremism, the CSTO attaches great importance. In the CSTO Collective Security Strategies, adopted in 2016 for the period until 2025, the heads of our states set the executive and working bodies of the Organization to take an active part in consolidating international efforts to combat terrorism and extremism. On the whole, Mr. Valery Semerikov emphasized, the Collective Security Treaty Organization is satisfied with how the Organization develops cooperation with the UN, OSCE, CIS, SCO and their core structures within the framework of existing memoranda and advocate for the expansion of this cooperation. He said great potential lies in cooperation with the EU in the context of finding certain common ground on security issues in Central Asia, which are indicated in the updated EU Strategy for this region, which is part of the CSTO responsibility.
As regards cooperation with NATO, in May of this year, the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the CSTO member states, in order to strengthen confidence and develop cooperation between organizations in jointly countering global challenges and threats, sent an open appeal to the North Atlantic Alliance Foreign Ministry, which the CSTO has not yet received an official response from Brussels. I think, said Mr. Valery Semerikov, comments are unnecessary here.
The Acting Secretary General also said, aware of the growing terrorist threat emanating from the territory of Afghanistan, in pursuance of the decision of the Collective Security Council, the CSTO has intensified the development of a targeted interstate program to strengthen the Tajik-Afghan border. In addition, the draft List of additional measures of a political, military nature and counteraction to challenges and threats aimed at reducing tension in the Tajik-Afghan border area has been worked out.
Mr. Valery Semerikov emphasized that in the CSTO format, a draft Collective Action Plan of the CSTO Member States for the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy for 2019-2021 was developed and submitted for consideration by the Organization’s authorized organs. As an instrument for developing cooperation in the fight against terrorism and extremism, he said, the Organization sees the use of the Partnership and Observation Institute under the CSTO, which the heads of state of the Organization approved last year.
Addressing the conference participants, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Mr. Alexander Pankin emphasized that Moscow has been consistently promoting the idea of combating MT on all international and regional platforms, based on the principles of collective efforts, without double standards and on the basis of mutual consideration of interests, as well as recognition of the universal role in this UN process. Formulating his anti-terrorism strategy, he pointed out, Russia is aimed at building allied interaction with both CSTO partners and other international structures.
In his video message to the forum participants, the UN Under-Secretary-General, the head of the Counter-Terrorism Directorate of the UN Secretariat, Mr. Vladimir Voronkov, emphasized that such events are designed to more closely link the regional experience in combating terrorism with the global anti-terrorism strategy implemented by the UN. Mr. V. Voronkov informed about plans for holding the UN World Counter-Terrorism Week in July 2020, which is expected to contribute to the consolidation of global efforts to combat MT, since, according to him, “no one is able to cope with terrorism alone.”
During the speech, the Director of the Counter-Terrorism Directorate of the UN Secretariat, Mr. Jehangir Khan, pointed out that, despite encouraging reports of the elimination of the leader of ISIS al-Baghdadi, this and other international terrorist organizations continue to poison the atmosphere of peace and tranquility in various regions of the world. Moreover, the tactics they use are constantly being improved. International terrorists are increasingly using in their actions modern information and communication technologies, satellite communications, drones, etc. According to him, al-Qaeda and ISIS retain the combat potential of 20-30 thousand militants, who come from 110 countries of the world. The UN, emphasized Mr. J. Khan, intends to strengthen cooperation with the CSTO and other regional structures to strengthen the architecture of joint efforts in the fight against MT.
Mr. Marcel Peško, Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Center, dwelt on the OSCE's contribution to collective efforts to combat international terrorism, while emphasizing that this structure has consistently advocated a synergy of military, political, economic and humanitarian approaches to countering this global evil. The OSCE aims to maximize the use of the unique tools at its disposal in the form of field presence in the Central Asian region and Eastern Europe. Countering international terrorism, Mr. M. Peshko pointed out, should not be declarative, but effective and should be carried out under the auspices of the UN.
In his speech, the SCO Deputy Secretary General Xie Xiaoyong said that the fight against international terrorism and related extremism has been the main goal of the SCO since its inception. To date, the organization has about 600 agreements, programs and mechanisms governing MT counteraction. In 2018, India and Pakistan were involved in the orbit of SCO efforts in this direction. The situation in such states as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan is still in the field of special attention of the SCO. Inter-Afghan settlement is a key prerequisite in terms of the prospects for solving the MT problem, Xie Xiaoyong noted. The SCO pays special attention to cybersecurity issues, including monitoring of the Internet space both in the Organization’s area of responsibility and throughout Eurasia. He spoke out for strengthening cooperation in the fight against MT with organizations such as the CSTO, CIS, ASEAN, CICA with the UN leading role.
Deputy Chairman of the Executive Committee - Executive Secretary of the CIS Sergey Ivanov pointed out that the manifestations of terrorism and related extremism are becoming increasingly aggressive. At the same time, their external financial and material support does not weaken. With this in mind, the CIS, CSTO, OSCE, SCO, FATF and The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism should act together, more closely coordinating their actions on the antiterrorist track.
In his speech, Anatoly Sidorov, the head of the CSTO Joint Staff, dwelt in detail on the problems of the formation of the Organization’s power component used to neutralize the threats of MT and related extremism. Currently, this component is represented by the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces (CRRF) of the Collective Security Treaty Organization of 18 thousand people, to which the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces of the Central Asian Region (CRRF CAR) of 5 thousand people can join. According to the estimates of the Joint Staff, the main source of threats to collective security remains the situation in Afghanistan, where, according to reports, there are more than 60 thousand members of the Taliban and about 11 thousand ISIS fighters, many of whom come from post-Soviet states. The CSTO's regular military exercises have a restraining effect on forces that harbor hostile intentions against the Organization's member states. In this context, the head of the OSH mentioned the recently completed series of joint CSTO "Combat Brotherhood-2019" trainings held in Belarus, Russia, and Tajikistan.
Today, Anatoly Sidorov emphasized, the CSTO is the only regional organization that has real troops and coalition forces to respond to the challenges and threats associated with international terrorism. At the same time, the chief of the Joint Staff spoke out in favor of working out legal and organizational issues of conducting joint exercises with the participation of troops and special forces of the CSTO and SCO.
The Acting Executive Secretary of the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly, Sergei Pospelov, in his speech emphasized the special role of the deputy corps of the CSTO member states in developing the unified legal space of the Organization and creating effective mechanisms for counter-terrorism protection and crisis response to the whole spectrum of possible challenges and threats to national security and sovereignty. To effectively solve this problem, the CSTO PA uses model lawmaking, and the harmonization of legislation and the adoption of model laws of the member states of the Organization have become the most important vectors of the parliamentary dimension and part of its synergetic potential. In total, about 100 model legal acts in the field of security have been sent to the national parliaments through the CSTO, directly or indirectly reflecting the problems of countering terrorism.
According to the Director General of Interpol Jurgen Stock, an important role in ensuring the effective fight against MT is played by international information exchange and the creation of databases on persons involved in international terrorist activity. At the same time, he highlighted the high involvement of the Russian Federation in this activity and expressed the hope that it would serve as an example for other states that prioritize the fight against international terrorism.
Addressing the participants of the conference, acting Marie Dubot, head of the IWC Regional Delegation in Russia, Belarus and Moldova, dwelled on the issues of strict observance of international humanitarian law in the fight against international terrorism. She pointed out the inadmissibility of dehumanization of those participants in armed conflicts who were drawn into them against their will, becoming victims of circumstances. According to her, special care is required for women and children who should be returned to their homeland under international control. At the same time, when solving these problems, states need to maintain a reasonable balance between the principles of humanity and security considerations.