UN counter-terrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov has warned that terrorists are becoming increasingly innovative in a world shaken by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in spite of “significant progress” in the fight against terror.

Voronkov, head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT), concluded the Second High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism on Wednesday at the UN headquarters in New York by summing up four of the strategic challenges facing the world at the moment.

He underscored the need for “inclusive, forward-looking, evidence-based approaches to build resilience” in the face of the ISIL legacy in Iraq and Syria; terrorist threats in Africa; tackling transnational risks sparked by various forms of intolerance; and the need to upgrade technology and know-how to counter the scourge.

“Deliberations over the last few days have advanced the Secretary-General’s vision to promote a networked global counter-terrorism response,’’ Voronkov said.

However, he added, “while preparing for tomorrow’s threats; we also need to change traditional tactics”.

He noted that hate speech had become pervasive and self-reinforcing through algorithms and online echo chambers.

According to the UN official, countering the spread of terrorist content online “remains high on the agenda”.

“Upholding the rule of law and human rights is imperative for successful counter-terrorism efforts.

“We must preserve and defend these fundamental values and operating principles while we work together to prevent terrorists’ efforts to destabilise our Governments and societies,’’ he added.

The OCT chief said his office would integrate gender and human rights policies into all of its programming.

He also underscored the need to sustain efforts at delivering tailored, cost-effective capacity-building measures to sustain impact, including through UN field-based programmes.

Voronkov pointed out that new technologies were adding a layer of complexity as many member states continue to face severe capacity challenges in battling terrorism.

He said “solidarity was in everyone’s common interest and that the international community could not afford to leave any country behind”.

“It is clear that a terrorist safe haven anywhere is a threat everywhere,’’ the OCT chief said.

The UN official said that as the organisation readied itself to mark the 15th anniversary of the UN Global Counter-terrorism Strategy to enhance national, regional and international efforts, “we should take comfort that this Counter-Terrorism Week has reinvigorated support for multilateralism.” (NAN)

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