By Shada Islam
Asian and European counter-terrorism experts meet in Indonesia on December 12 for talks on reinforcing cooperation to combat radicalisation and extremism.
Extremism, intolerance and xenophobia are on the increase worldwide. The tragic massacre of over 80 young people in Norway this summer is proof that no country is safe from the action of terrorists – whether in Europe or in Asia, whether the threat is “home grown” or linked to international networks.
International cooperation – within the United Nations framework, in regional fora as well as within the Asia-Europe partnership – is therefore crucial in tackling a global scourge.
ASEM leaders agreed at their meeting in Copenhagen in 2002 to launch expert-level discussions on counter terrorism. Several seminars and conferences have been held over the last 9 years to promote the sharing of knowledge, expertise and best practices among ASEM partners.
The conference in Yogyakarta on December 12-13 will be the ninth ASEM conference on these issues, aiming to identify effective counter-terrorism approaches which are grounded in respect for human rights and the rule of law as set out in international conventions.
Indonesian officials who will host the meeting say recent terrorist attacks in both Europe and Asia have been a “wake-up call” to ASEM governments to step up counter-terrorism cooperation.
The focus in Yogyakarta will be on understanding the complex relationship between radicalised people and the communities they live in.
Although terrorists may operate alone or belong to a small minority, any de-radicalisation or counter-terrorism strategy must also deal with the interaction between radicalised people and their community, underlines a concept paper drawn up ahead of the meeting.
“This is why communities need to play a central role in many different areas of the counter-terrorism strategy,” the paper adds.
Communities can work both as an early warning system to the presence of radicals in their midst but can also play a crucial role in preventing the radicalisation of young people.
Counter-terrorism cooperation among ASEM members can help in the implementation of the UN’s Global Strategy on Counter Terrorism and also encourage coordination among regional institutions working in the area.
In combating terrorism, every avenue for increased international cooperation and coordination should be explored, say ASEM officials.
Shada Islam is a journalist in Brussels with a long experience of EU-Asia relations. This is a part of a series of articles being published by Ecorys Research and Consulting, as member of the COWI Consortium which is under contract to the European Commission, to look at different aspects of the multi-faceted Asia-Europe relationship. This article represents the views of the author and does not commit the European Commission in any way.