'Qatar is the only country that supports three pillars of UNOCT work'

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism and Head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), Vladimir Voronkov, has praised Qatar's efforts to support the work of the UNOCT in countering terrorism; considering Qatar the only country that supports all three pillars of the UNOCT mandate, which are politics, co-ordination, and the capacity-building activities and technical assistance of member states.

In an exclusive statement to QNA in New York, he pointed out that co-operation with Qatar is strategic and innovative, where the threat of terrorism is discussed on a global scale during strategic dialogues. Then the first step is taken by selecting programmatic activities financially and politically supported by Qatar, and implementing these programmes by the Office and various member states.

He elaborated that the two offices established in Doha came within the implementation mechanisms, explaining that one of these offices is concerned with behavioural insights while the second is concerned with parliamentary engagement, which means that the most difficult part of the counter-terrorism agenda, rehabilitation and reintegration are based on scientific results which are implemented through programmatic activities in various countries.

Qatar continues to assume its responsibility as an active partner of the international community, with an active role in maintaining security, supporting international efforts for counter-terrorism, and taking the necessary measures to defeat terrorism and extremism through bilateral and regional multilateral

co-operation with countries concerned and institutions.

Counter-terrorism comes within the main priorities of Qatar's national, regional, and international policy.

One of the concrete steps taken by Qatar to combat terrorism is signing an agreement with the UNOCT in December 2018 to establish a United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism in Doha. Following this, Qatar and the UNOCT held the first strategic dialogue at the UN headquarters in March 2019, he said.

Voronkov pointed out that the Doha Office has done concrete work as it drafts model legislative provisions on many parts of the counter-terrorism agenda.

On the role played by the Doha office, Voronkov stated that the office organised the First Annual Forum of Beneficiaries of Technical Assistance on Countering Terrorism in Doha in March 2022. This received wide participation of donor and beneficiary countries, where views were directly exchanged concerning the effectiveness of the activities and the member states reviewed what should be corrected regarding texts, legislation and other technical issues.

He explained that Counter-Terrorism Office has new various programmatic activities such as sports security, adding that the world is on the eve of the most important and popular sporting event — the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Counter-Terrorism Office is working closely with different Qatari agencies on sports security issues, he said, pointing out the presence of a programme implemented globally with the support of Qatar in the field of security sports.

He also pointed to another co-operation between Counter-Terrorism Office and Qatar in Counter-Terrorism travel programme, which is a well-functioning kind of digital software used by security forces in many countries to prevent the travel of possible terrorists, in addition to another programme called 'fusion cells', which is a new technology on organising co-operation between law enforcement, security, and border agencies of a state.

Voronkov said that he visited many countries affected by terrorism, affirming that the issue of youth involvement in terrorist activities is one of the most difficult problems.

To solve this problem, there must be a very strong link between peace, security and development, he added. Education is an important element, as the office has found that -in many cases- a significant percentage of young people quit education to work, which is considered a waste of youth energies, and the office is working to correct the situation as much as possible and to integrate these young people into the educational process, or make a real change in their lives by keeping them away from attempts to drift in the direction of terrorist currents, he said.

He noted that the UN plays a crucial role in counter-terrorism, which is part of the security scene in developed and poor countries alike, as it is important to eliminate poverty first to reduce the threats of terrorism, and indicated that it is not enough, as there must be a comprehensive approach to address the problem.

For example, political instability creates an environment conducive to the spread of terrorism, which is shown by the announced data in this regard, while in conflict areas, terrorism spreads very quickly, but in quiet and peaceful areas it is almost non-existent, or it spreads slowly, he added.

HE Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism said that the UNOCT is the most recent in the United Nations as it was established in June 2017 and was a unique experience for the UN for the last 25 years, considering that it was established under common understanding of member states that terrorism is a global scourge.

To effectively deal with this scourge, an international instrument is needed and the office was created as such, he explained, noting that the political philosophy of the Counter-Terrorism office is that no country is immune to terrorism, and that global response should be adequate to the global terrorism threat.

He also explained that the Counter-Terrorism office carries out strategic and political tasks in the United Nations system, and that the office is doing its utmost in this regard.

The office also co-ordinates the activities of different UN entities on counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism conducive to terrorism, provides a large number of capacity-building activities and technical assistance to the member states in need, to help them make their counter-terrorism policy and structure stronger. It does not impose certain approaches or mechanisms on member states, but rather provides co-operation to move forward, Voronkov added.

He also said that the implementation of the recommendations of the office belongs to the member states in the first place, unless the Counter-Terrorism Office was asked to provide support or make assessments, pointing to the great benefit of member states from the technical assistance and capacity-building programmes.

In 2021, 676 capacity-building activities were organised, including 155 awareness-raising events with member states, 33 expert meetings, and 204 workshops, he added.

He pointed out the United Nations counter-terrorism agenda, as the global counter-terrorism strategy is updated every two years during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), indicating that recent discussions have been intense, and there is a comprehensive document on how to move forward in the counter-terrorism agenda, which includes not only prevention of terrorism, but also human rights and civil society engagement.

Terrorism is a comprehensive phenomenon and the response needs to be serious and comprehensive, involving civil society, governments, and local society, he said.

UNOCT conducts analysis of the situation about combating terrorism, and they are submitted to the Security Council twice a year, he explained, noting that the office also has a unique co-ordination structure in the United Nations system, and the Global Counter-Terrorism Compact — a body that brings together about 45 UN and non-UN entities to deal with the problem of terrorism.

The office tries to avoid duplication of efforts and tries to provide funding and using the capacities of the entities in an appropriate manner, Voronkov added.(QNA)

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