CM(2011)41 15 March 20111
1112 Meeting, 19 April 2011
10 Legal questions
10.1b Conclusions of the International Conference on the “Prevention of Terrorism: Prevention Tools, Legal Instruments and Their Implementation” (Istanbul, Turkey, 16-17 December 2010)
Item to be prepared by the GR-J on 5 April 2011
This International Conference on “Prevention of Terrorism: Prevention Tools, Legal Instruments and Their Implementation” was organised by the Public International Law and Anti-Terrorism Division, DLAPIL, in the framework of the Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. The Conference was opened by the Secretary General, Mr Thorbjørn JAGLAND, and Mr Beşir ATALAY, Minister of Interior of Turkey.
Participants acknowledged and appreciated the invaluable contribution of the Turkish authorities to the success of this event. They have also expressed their sincere appreciation for the efficient and most competent organisation of the Conference, thanks to the Council of Europe Secretariat and excellent on-site organisation, hospitality, facilities and equipment provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey.
On behalf of the Council of Europe, special gratitude was expressed to Mr Beşir ATALAY, Minister of Interior, and to Mr Ahmet DAVUTOĞLU, Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as to Ambassador Daryal BATIBAY, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the Council of Europe, for their active contribution to the success of this event, which underscores the priority given by Turkey to the counter-terrorism struggle.
The Conference brought together around 150 national and international experts and offered participants a valuable insight into improving prevention of terrorism by addressing issues relating to:
- the changing nature of terrorism;
- incitement to terrorism;
- recruitment for terrorism, and
- prevention of financing of terrorism.
From the outset of this event, the participants stressed the importance of discussing preventive issues in view of a shared goal: advancing a common agenda on countering terrorism.
While over the last decades the focus was placed mainly on suppression and repression of terrorist behaviour, recently the international community is increasingly turning its eyes to the preventive aspects of the counter-terrorism strategies and dealing more intensely with the factors which might be conducive to the radicalisation of certain parts of the population and, as a result, to violence and terrorism.
Although condemnation and suppression of terrorism are certainly important, in the long-term they must be combined with preventive measures, as the only effective anti-terrorist policy is one which deters terrorists.
In this context, a holistic and multidisciplinary approach - based on the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law – is a strong asset in the fight against terrorism.
It was underlined in all sessions of the Conference that safeguarding human rights is not an obstacle to the fight against terrorism but an essential component of it, which will deter many from joining the circles of violence and hatred where new terrorists are often recruited.
Indeed, there is also an ideological element in counter-terrorism struggle and by abiding by the rule of law and by respecting human rights, democratic societies legitimise their counter-terrorist measures, deprive terrorists of their alleged justifications, reinforce shared values, support victims of terrorism and facilitate international co-operation.
Regarding the issue of the changing nature of terrorism, new trends, new tools and new challenges, the Conference stressed in particular that:
- terror has no nationality and terrorism has a global nature;
- terrorist offences, regardless of whom they are perpetrated by, are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature;
- protection of human rights is an indispensable pillar of counter-terrorism efforts;
- addressing conditions conductive to the spread of terrorism is vital for efficient counter-terrorism efforts and can only contribute to education for democratic citizenship, combat intolerant ideologies or practices, promote respect for pluralism and greater acceptance of diversity, including the diversity of culture, religion or belief. In this respect, the Conference noted with interest the practices put in place in some countries to establish links with families, close circles, communities and civil society to detect factors of radicalisation of certain citizens or groups – mostly young people - and deal with them in time to avoid their being recruited by terrorist groups.
Moreover, participants believed that a condition sine qua non in fighting terrorism is a strong and effective co-operation. Both at domestic level - between different agencies and authorities - and at international level. States understand that doing it alone will not be sufficient and that co-operation and sharing of information and good practices are essential in the fight against terrorism.
In addition, all counter-terrorism actors do understand the need for a holistic and multidisciplinary approach. International co-operation must go hand in hand with intercultural dialogue and community building.
The Conference highlighted the role of international organisations and the added value of their work in the enhancement of international co-operation against terrorism, including the preventive aspects of it.
The United Nations has an indisputable leading role in this respect, spearheaded by the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, universal counter-terrorism treaties and the know-how developed by the counter-terrorist committees and agencies set up by the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly. Reference has been made in particular, to the work of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Executive Directorate, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Participants believed that, as a regional organisation, the Council of Europe plays – and should continue to play - an important role in the advancement of international action against terrorism. In this respect, important features and added value of the Organisation’s activities were underscored:
- on the one hand, the Council of Europe is committed to facilitating the implementation of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions 1373(2001) and 1624 (2005) and of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy;
- on the other hand the Council of Europe, via the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER) and MONEYVAL, provides a forum for discussing and adopting regional standards and best practice.
The work of other international organisations was also welcomed and the Conference particularly highlighted the catalogue of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and INTERPOL’s tools and databases as important mechanisms in the enhancement of the effective international co-operation against terrorism. The work done by INTERPOL to facilitate the application of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism had been particularly welcomed as well as INTERPOL’s offer to use INTERPOL structures to promote awareness about the importance of acceding to this Convention.
The role of regional organisations – such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organization of American States (OAS) – was also underlined with respect to the provision of assistance to states in improving their counter-terrorism capabilities. This assistance is particularly important as participants highlighted that the lack of capacity and resources hinder states’ effectiveness in dealing with terrorism, especially in vulnerable states and regions.
Besides, many other challenges, threats and the tools available to fight terrorism were extensively discussed:
- adjustment and response to the changing nature of terrorism was identified as a primary challenge faced by the international community. Indeed, the changing nature of the threat from terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida to individuals (lonely wolves) further demonstrates the need for international co-operation and exchanges of information and good practices;
- importance of border controls was underlined;
- bringing perpetrators before criminal justice is essential as there should be no impunity for acts of terrorism;
- development of an appropriate counter-narrative should be one of the major priorities of counter-terrorism community as without a smart approach in this area, the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism will be fuelled;
- incitement to terrorism, recruitment for terrorism and terrorist financing, preventing of money transfers, money laundering etc. were identified as major concerns.
Regarding the issue of incitement to terrorism, the Conference recalled that the prevention of terrorism forms part of the broader perspective of creating an environment which is not conducive to terrorist recruitment, rejecting justifications put forward by terrorists for their actions.
The Conference acknowledged that the Council of Europe has led international efforts in this field by preparing already in 2005 the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism [CETS No. 196], calling upon states to set up and enhance comprehensive national prevention policies (Article 3 of the Convention) and criminalising the public provocation to commit a terrorist offence (Article 5 of the Convention).
The participants strongly supported this first international legally binding instrument criminalising public provocation to commit a terrorist offence, which served as an inspiration for national laws but also for international texts, such as the UN Security Council resolution 1624 (2005) and the revised European Union Framework Decision on combating terrorism of 13 June 2002. In the words of the participants, the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism is a balanced, sound instrument, which is already providing the legal basis to co-operate internationally against illegal acts which might end up in terrorist attacks.
The Conference noted the importance of developing national legislation to criminalise public provocation to commit terrorist acts, including incitement to and glorification of terrorism, as it is indispensible for national investigations as well as the provision of full international co-operation against incitement to terrorism.
The Conference particularly called upon all Council of Europe member states that have not yet ratified the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism to do so as a matter of urgency. The Conference also noted that this Convention is an open Convention and encouraged non Council of Europe member states to consider acceding to it.
The participants further affirmed the fundamental role played by the freedom of expression in a democratic society, but recalled that there are legitimate restrictions to freedom of expression. States may resort to them in order to combat incitement and/or glorification of terrorism. Indeed, the rule of law provides tools for a democratic society to defend itself against threats to destroy the fundamental values on which it is based. The positive obligation to prevent these phenomena entails the obligation to take all necessary measures in compliance with international human rights law and standards.
The role of national and international tribunals cannot be underestimated in this respect, as over the last years the case-law on the incitement to terrorism (for example, the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human rights in the Leroy case) has considerably evolved. In this respect, the Conference stressed the need to exchange information and experiences on prevention and prosecution of the incitement to and glorification of terrorism.
Regarding the issue of recruitment for Terrorism, the Conference noted that forming an effective European counter-terrorism policy against recruitment for terrorism definitely means the establishment of a common definition of the threat. In this respect, the participants recalled the critical importance of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, which broke entirely new ground with its provisions on the penalisation of recruitment and training for terrorism.
However, the Conference highlighted that the present challenge lays in developing further a common approach, creation of a common understanding of the threat of recruitment for terrorist activities, something which appears necessary for the creation of a European counter-terrorism apparatus with a capacity for data analysis and means of operation.
In this respect, participants welcomed and urged for fostering of the exchanges of good practices on national experiences with trial of terrorists, exchanges of information and approaches in community policing and prevention of radicalisation and terrorism projects, as well as exchanges on innovative initiatives in prevention of radicalisation.
The Conference stressed in particular that terrorism should not be associated with any religion as such association would only have negative implications and would fuel terrorist recruitment. Certain denominations, associating terrorism to certain religions or ethnic groups, are to be proscribed as they fuel resentment, marginalisation and identification with the objectives of terrorism.
Regarding the issue of prevention of financing of terrorism, the Conference also recalled the critical importance in the general fight against terrorism of the effective implementation by all states of the international standards to counter the financing of terrorism.
The Conference strongly supported the work on evaluation of these measures undertaken by the Council of Europe's monitoring mechanisms in this area. It urged all states monitored by MONEYVAL to fully implement all its detailed recommendations on terrorist financing in a timely fashion.
The Conference also welcomed the commencement of evaluations of states Parties under the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure, and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism [CETS No. 198].
The Conference noted in particular the importance of implementing the comprehensive provisions contained in this treaty for obtaining financial information for domestic investigations, which should also be available for the provision of full international co-operation on terrorist financing.
The Conference urged all Council of Europe member states that have not yet ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure, and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism to do so as a matter of urgency. The Conference also noted that this Convention is an open Convention and encouraged non Council of Europe member states to consider acceding to it.
In conclusion, participants have also expressed their deep gratitude for the generous hospitality offered to them by Turkey, as well as for the kind, supportive and welcoming attitude of all those involved in the smooth running of this Conference.
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted until examination by the Committee of Ministers.