UN Chief addresses counter-terrorism amidst the pandemic

Counter-terrorism: The second annual gathering of United Nations (UN) and international experts at the virtual UN Counter-Terrorism Week, heard from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the launch last Monday, July 6, with a call to “harness the power of multilateralism to find practical solutions”. He also said, “the pandemic has also highlighted vulnerabilities to new and emerging forms of terrorism, such as misuse of digital technology, cyber-attacks and bio-terrorism”.

Guterres warned that although a comprehensive assessment of how the pandemic will impact terrorism is unclear, COVID-19 has challenged countering-terrorism as terror groups including Islamist groups such as Islamic State and Al- Qaeda and right-wing extremist and hate groups “seek to exploit divisions, local conflicts, governance failures and grievances to advance their objectives”.

In his speech he highlighted the importance of investment in counter-terrorism initiatives across national, regional, and multilateral levels in order to drive responses that are innovative, harnessing appropriate technologies and tools. Guterres flagged the need to tackle the spread of terrorist narratives through pandemic-sensitive, holistic approaches, and said that non-state actors must not be allowed to exploit the “fissures and fragilities” of rising psycho-social, economic and political stresses, related to the coronavirus.

Mr Guterres also stressed the importance of strengthening information sharing to learn from the experiences and good practices of others in the COVID-19 security landscape, saying that “quality capacity-building assistance to Member States will remain an important pillar” of UN counter-terrorism work.

Stratium Global Analysis: The terrorism landscape globally and in Australia remains dynamic. Although the pandemic may have physically inhibited the ability of terror groups to operate due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, terror groups continue to exploit the social and economic conditions driven by the pandemic to radicalise and spread propaganda. 


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