There is a growing global consensus on the fact that Member States' efforts to detect, disrupt, pursue, detain and/or prosecute terrorists cannot defeat violent extremism without interventions to counter the ideologies that stimulate the flow of recruits into these criminal organizations.
Many Member States have expressed a desire to learn and share information about each other’s experiences, lessons learned and good practices in this respect. The UNICRI action in this field is conceived to meet the need to identify innovative means to prevent and counter radicalization and terrorist recruitment, and provide Member States with actionable knowledge to strengthen national capacity.
The Center on Policies to Counter the Appeal of Terrorism was established by UNICRI on mandate of the CTITF and builds upon the main results of the CTITF Working Group "Addressing Radicalization and Extremism that lead to Terrorism" established in 2007 and co-chaired by the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General (EOSG), UNICRI, and the Monitoring Team of the Security Council’s 1267 Committee.
In particular, the Center is focused on three main objectives:
UNICRI, in partnership with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT), is developing study sessions and technical workshops on these subjects. The workshops are indispensable tools for these experts to share insights and expertise surrounding the dynamics, trends and patterns of complex topics. They also foster partnerships and relationships between those involved, building confidence and trust among the actors involved in working to counter the appeal of terrorism. Finally, the workshops generate recommendations for improved cooperation among national, regional and international officials and experts, highlighting areas where deeper cooperation is possible.
Two workshops, held in May 2011 in Lucca and in December 2011 in The Hague, were attended by more than 30 Member States, a number of key multilateral organizations and a wide range of the leading experts in the field. The technical outcomes of these meetings represented the bases of the Rome Memorandum on Good Practices for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremist Offenders adopted by the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Counter-terrorism Forum in June 2012. This good practice document represents a key tool for shaping the capacity building assistance UNICRI is providing to requesting Member States.
The principles mentioned in the Rome Memorandum are fairly general in nature. In order to provide Member States with additional guidance on specific topics, an expert workshop on the role of religious scholars and other ideological experts in rehabilitation and reintegration programmes has been organized in October 2013 in Madrid.
A further initiative focusing on prisons and entitled Disengagement and Rehabilitation of Violent Extremists and Terrorists, began in 2012, with the purpose of supporting Member States, upon request, in their efforts to build effective rehabilitation and disengagement programmes for violent extremists, and to take steps to ensure that their prisons are not serving as hotbeds of radicalization.
Prisons are increasingly becoming a concern to the global fight against terrorism; they can provide an environment where convicted terrorists can network, compare and exchange tactics, radicalize and recruit new members, and command and control operations outside the prison. Most imprisoned or detained extremists will eventually be released; in order to reduce the likelihood that they will re-offend, it is important to find mechanisms to stimulate, at least, disengagement from violence.
Prisons also offer potential to enable a reversal of radicalization, and this capacity building initiative aims to provide Member States with realistic and effective means conducive towards that goal. To support Member States in either building new effective disengagement and rehabilitation programmes or improving existing ones, UNICRI will provide, upon request, capacity-building assistance based on some of the good practices and proven methodologies that are emerging from the workshops and research that are being conducted.