The international counter‑terrorism conference, Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalisation that Lead to Terrorism, is taking place at the Federal Foreign Office on 31 May and 1 June. The conference has been organised under Germany’s OSCE Chairmanship. The focus of the two‑day event is on measures to prevent radicalisation and extremism, but also on how to deal with returning extremists and their reintegration into society.
Global terrorism as a joint challenge
“We all realise that global terrorism is one of our biggest challenges,” said Foreign Minister Steinmeier, who opened the conference with Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière. “And it is a challenge we must all tackle together”, one that can only be addressed by the international community as a whole. Against this backdrop, experts from the OSCE participating States are gathering in the Federal Foreign Office today and tomorrow to discuss the causes of global terrorism and the fight against it.
A comprehensive approach
“To prevent terrorism in the long term, we need to tackle the political, social and economic causes of radicalisation and extremism,” Steinmeier said. This was why terrorism could only be combated by a comprehensive approach focused on all levels alongside law enforcement. For example, Steinmeier said, Germany was active in the coalition against “Islamic State” (IS), not just in a military capacity, but also with regard to the long‑term political and social stabilisation of the territories that have been liberated from IS. At the same time, Germany was doing everything in its power to prevent terrorists from entering the country and was working to implement important United Nations resolutions aimed at combating the organisation and funding of terrorist organisations.
Measures to prevent radicalisation and extremism play a particularly important role in the fight against global terrorism. In order to counteract propaganda by terrorist organisations, people must be shown other options and given better living and education prospects. One key aim of the conference is to draw up strategies to address the relatively new phenomenon of the radicalisation of women and children.
As an example of successful prevention work, Steinmeier mentioned the deployment of OSCE experts in Tajikistan who help parents to recognise their children’s potential radicalisation at an early stage. The OSCE has also established a public platform via the social media campaign, United in Countering Violent Extremism, which points out the dangers of terrorism and has already reached more than six million people.
Solutions not only at national level
At the end of his speech, Foreign Minister Steinmeier underlined that “we will not allow terrorism to destroy the values that define us: freedom and democracy. The power of our response must be stronger than hate!” But whether this succeeds depends on the will of the international community to present a united front and work together. As the largest UN regional organisation, the OSCE can play a key role in combating terrorism. However, the problem cannot be solved at national level alone, but only “if all levels of society are on board”, that is, civil society organisations, religious communities and local policymakers.