This year began with the harrowing news of a terrorist attack at a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan. The world watched and listened in horror as the death toll rose from an initial 30 to over 100 within hours as more bodies were uncovered from the debris. More than 200 people, mostly police officers, were injured. This daring suicide bomb attack at a mosque in a police compound was a stark reminder of the imminent danger posed by terrorism and violent extremism, and an example of their effect. This attack was among a number that occurred in the first quarter of the year, with varying degrees of impact on lives and infrastructure.
Technology plays a central role in the area of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) disinformation. Social media platforms have been maliciously used by violent non-state actors to spread false information and conspiracy theories, often with the intention to jeopardize the credibility of governments and radicalize public opinion. It could even be said that social media platforms have changed the “rules of the game” in the history of disinformation. While in the past CBRN disinformation was often part of covert operations conducted by governments with the intention to influence the opinions and actions of individuals and Member States (disinformation campaigns and disinformation mitigation tactics), in recent years, terrorists, violent extremists, and organized criminal groups have started to exploit vulnerabilities in the social media ecosystem to deliberately disseminate conspiracy theories and manipulate people in relation to CBRN threats. Violent non-state actors can sometimes operate as voluntary or involuntary proxies of governments, but their direct involvement and their ability to manipulate information has introduced a new variable that significantly amplifies the spread of disinformation.
The human behind the badge and the AI behind the human From an exclusive interview with a law enforcement officer about her 10 years working on child sexual exploitation and abuse cases, learn how artificial intelligence is used in the investigation process and why it is crucial for both revolutionizing investigations and for the wellbeing of investigators themselves
It is 6:00 a.m. and darkness still blankets the peaceful suburb as the team of officers assembles outside the house of a suspected child sexual abuser. The tension rises as they approach the front door – Detective Sherry Torres stands in front – a position of greater stress and, of course, greater risk. They know the suspect owns a gun.
But she has seen the children in the pictures; and worse, heard them in the videos. They are in need of rescue, and she is determined. She knocks on the door – it is the protocol, to avoid breaking it down if possible – and sure enough, the suspect answers in a groggy state. He does not stay groggy for long upon seeing the officers in their tactical gear.
“And his wife comes in wondering, ‘what’s going on’?’” said Detective Torres. “I can see that she’s scared, and the suspect takes off running.” The team chases him down and makes the arrest.
This was just a normal day for Detective Torres, only one part of the long process of investigating an online child sexual exploitation and abuse case. And the worst is yet to come.
After arresting the suspect and securing the site, the officers work quickly and efficiently to gather any evidence they find. Detective Torres and her team interview the suspect and any potential witnesses, and seize several electronic devices including computers, thumb drives, camera memory cards and mobile phones.
Gone are the days when child sexual abuse material was captured on Polaroids, 35mm film, or DVD collections concealed under attic floorboards. Modern technology has seen the amount of this material skyrocket, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of new gaming technology - recent estimates put the occurrence as high as one in ten children. In the United States alone, child sexual abuse material reports numbered 100 thousand in 2008 and increased to nearly 30 million in 2021.
And someone has to review all these files.
Detective Torres pauses as she describes to us how it was seeing these files for the first time, when she joined the unit.
“I still remember the first [child abuse] file that I ever saw,” she said. Before joining the Internet Crimes against Children Unit ten years ago, her colleagues brought her into a room and had her view “the worst of the worst” to test her reaction and see if she could handle the job.
“As soon as I saw it, I felt sick,” she said, but Detective Torres wanted to prevent more children from being abused like the child in that video.
“Any display of weakness on my part, whether emotional or mental – especially as a female in law enforcement during that time – you didn’t show it to others,” she said.
“That first video was” – she begins, but her eyes constrict as well as her words – “really bad.” It takes a few moments before she continues.
After starting work in the unit, Detective Torres experienced what is called “unwanted recall”. Every time she closed her eyes to sleep, a reel of all the videos and images she had seen that day would start to replay in a loop in her head. Many investigators experience this unwanted recall as a vicarious trauma, as though by watching child sexual abuse material, “it’s almost like you’re there and you’re a witness to it.”
“I’ve seen really terrible things that people do to other people over my career,” she said. “But I didn’t know people did that to children.”
Detective Torres named a few healthy habits like exercise, work-life balance and having a good support system that help her to deal with the difficult dimensions of this job, and then, “technology - having the right tools.”
While at the scene, Detective Torres finishes seizing and documenting evidence - gathering as much information as possible to strengthen their case. Back in the office, she prepares for the digital forensic examination. This is where the ‘right tools’ for processing the exorbitant amount of seized data are crucial.
She begins by using software to eliminate known material which prevents investigators from seeing the same traumatic images that are commonly shared and re-shared on the internet. The software she uses also cuts down the bulk of files by removing non-pertinent material. This includes, for instance, things like Hollywood movies or random icons, which are not relevant for child exploitation cases.
“With these techniques, a case with 1.5 million pictures and videos then becomes 300,000,” Detective Torres explains, “which still sounds like a lot,” but is made more manageable with advanced technologies.
This is where she turns to artificial intelligence. AI techniques such as a child sexual abuse material classifier can automatically sort the materials according to their probability of containing child abuse – from low to high probability. She will focus her efforts on the latter. Facial recognition then allows her to search for videos and images in this group that are possible matches for the suspect and the children known to be accessible to that suspect.
Through these techniques, Detective Torres finds an image from the seized files depicting child sexual abuse material in a setting of relevance and uses AI to find visually similar pictures that bring investigative leads.
She remembers her first case when she had no advanced software to help her, which meant that she had to go through these files manually – one by one. “For 30 work days straight, that was my entire day,” she said of the time it took her to review all the material for that case.
“I went into the office, loaded the evidence and then looked at each file one at a time. Then I would go home. Then I would come back to the office and repeat the same thing. There was no break.”
Besides helping her find the right evidence, these AI tools have inbuilt safeguards protecting investigators’ wellbeing, so the ones flagged as child sexual abuse material are immediately pixelated until she must look at them. Other features include muting audio or even simply converting images to black and white.
“It minimizes the mental impact of the violence in those files. Seeing the videos in color and hearing the sound makes the review of that material more traumatic for the investigator.”
These features help distance disturbing images from reality, but only slightly. Because, in the end, AI tools cannot replace human investigators, who still have to look at the files they are investigating.
Detective Torres also uses the software to look for more files linking evidence to specific dates or victims, helping build a case against the suspected offender. As she knows from experience that there are many other potential victims, she uses text analysis to quickly flag suspicious conversations in the suspect’s chat histories involving the grooming or luring of other children.
“The technology just really makes it easier both for mental wellness and also for finding that critical evidence - the needle in the haystack,” said Detective Torres.
In fact, the AI tools she uses significantly cut forensic backlogs from over 1.5 years down to 4 to 6 months - time that can make a world of difference for victims.
Using these technologies, however, requires specialised training. It takes about three years on average for a law enforcement officer to be properly trained to use these tools and learn efficient investigative methods. This is right about the time they burn out. Detective Torres also thought about moving to a different unit during the first few months, but she knew she would not be able to investigate other types of crimes knowing that children were being abused in such horrific ways.
“I just would not be able to do that, knowing what I already know is happening,” Detective Torres said. Like most people – even police officers – she did not know about the extent or severity of child sexual exploitation and abuse until she joined the Internet Crimes against Children Unit.
Safeguarding the children is what motivates her every day. “We’ve kept in touch with some of the children that we’ve safeguarded and it’s rewarding to see them in a better environment,” she said. But “they’re still not going to be the same as a child who’s never experienced child sexual abuse.”
Detective Torres continued, “in my opinion, it’s the hardest job in law enforcement”. But with the support of the ‘right tools’, she has been able to do this job for 10 years – identifying indecent images and tying the suspect to those images and the devices on which they were found.
Detective Torres’ experience is not the same everywhere. In many countries, investigators are still working as she was years ago, opening folders and files one-by-one and watching video-by-video. The resulting high turnover rate from such mentally strenuous work decreases the chances that knowledge, experience and technological know-how is reached, much less passed on.
Technology providers are overwhelmingly eager to work with police, but are hindered partly due to a lack of communication between them, for reasons such as limited resources and classified information.
To bridge this gap between law enforcement and technology providers developing such AI tools, the UNICRI Centre for AI and Robotics have joined efforts with the Ministry of Interior of the United Arab Emirates to launch the AI for Safer Children initiative.
This initiative was created both to promote knowledge of these technologies and the widespread nature of online child sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as support law enforcement agencies to solve cases faster and safeguard children while protecting their officers through a platform called the Global Hub cataloguing over 60 currently available AI tools – including the tools used by Detective Torres – as well as a learning section and communication section to help build and share experiences.
Detective Torres remembers that it was a fellow examiner who introduced her to her first AI program so that she did not need to “scrub” through videos manually.
“When the technology made it easier, I thought to myself that I was going to be OK, and resolved to continue the important work to fight these crimes against children.”
About the authors: Maria Eira is the Information and Technology Fellow at the Centre for AI and Robotics of United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). For the past 3 years she has been providing technical advice to the ongoing projects of the Centre, related with the benefits and risks of AI and emerging technologies, particularly on the issues of crime prevention, criminal justice and rule of law. With a background in Biomedical Engineering Maria holds a Master in AI and Cognitive Science from Tilburg University where she has been a teacher assistant of Machine Learning and Data Processing classes. Prior to joining UNICRI, she has worked as a Human Interface Engineer in the research and development of augmented reality glasses, and also in the development of hardware solutions for space industry.
Emma Persson is coordinating the AI for Safer Children initiative, a project aimed at leveraging the positive potential of AI for law enforcement worldwide. She specialized in emerging technologies after completing two master programmes in international relations and international law at King’s College London and Leiden University respectively, and continues to work towards responsible AI innovation in the international environment.
Since the 9/11 attacks, terrorism has continued to pose significant challenges at both the national and international level. In the past decade, the phenomenon of the so-called “foreign-terrorist fighters” (FTFs), and the growing concern caused by FTFs returning from conflict zones, have in turn added a new dimension to the evolving terrorist threat. From a legislative point of view, this resulted in new counter-terrorismmeasures being swiftly adopted by the European Union (EU) to align the existing rules with those of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the Council of Europe. As a result, Directive 2017/541 now constitutes the cornerstone of the EU’s response to counter-terrorism, especially in relation to FTFs. In accordance with Article 9, Member States are required to criminalize outbound and inbound travelling for the purpose of terrorism to “stem the flow of FTFs.” However, the broad delineation of the actus reus together with the difficulties in the establishment of the terrorist intent and purpose may in practice lead to arbitrariness in the application of the law. This could in turn undermine the principle of legality on the basis of which criminal offences and penalties are to meet a certain standard of clarity and precision for individuals to be able to regulate their conduct accordingly.
Terrorists and organized criminal groups constantly seek to obtain radiological and nuclear materials to kill or cause substantial injury to others by detonating “dirty bombs”, dispersing these materials, or exposing others to toxic and harmful health effects. Their ultimate objective is to cause the maximum level of harm and panic among the population due to the destructive and psychological consequences of such attacks. Although a sophisticated level of education as well as special conditions are needed to create a very powerful bomb, the availability of certain open source literature and the relatively easy access to radiological and nuclear materials facilitate these criminal actors’ capacity to acquire materials that can be used to build radiological and nuclear weapons.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Incident and Trafficking Database (ITDB), 4,075 confirmed incidents were reported from 1993 to 2022. Given the fact that only 143 participating countries in the ITDB report about their incidents on a voluntary basis, we do not have a real picture of the scale of incidents worldwide. Out of this overall number of incidents reported, 344 of them were related to incidents likely to be connected with trafficking or malicious use. This explains why almost 8,5 percent of all reported incidents to the IAEA attracted the attention of investigators, prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, and other relevant authorities.
WRITTEN BY Brendan Coyle, Conor Murray, Gavin Breslin, Mark Dennison, John Marshall
Often described as a ‘post-conflict’ society, Northern Ireland remains in a state of transition following a 30 year period of widespread sectarian conflict involving State and non-State armed groups. In 1998, following a series of ceasefires and cross-party talks, the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement (CFA) marked the commencement of a long process of political transition. This has involved fragmented periods of devolved power-sharing between the parties representing the unionist, largely Protestant majority, and those representing the nationalist or republican, predominately Catholic minority. Despite significant progress in the 25 years following the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland remains a deeply divided society, with divisions and fault lines cutting across many aspects of daily existence.
It now seems obvious that knowing how and why people leave extremism is just as important as knowing why they join. From being something of an afterthought in extremism research, the study of disengagement has grown immensely over the past 15 years. The main reasons driving disengagement decisions are now starting to emerge. However, we still have much to learn about exiting extremism. There is a clear and urgent need for more theoretically developed, more empirically wide-ranging, and more methodologically varied research in this area. To advance our understanding, this paper draws lessons from a literature review on an extensive body of work addressing a similar topic: desistance from crime.
Still, barring a few notable exceptions (see for example Cherney, Putra, Putera, Erikha, & Magrie, 2021; LaFree & Miller, 2008; Marsden, 2016; Simi, Sporer, & Bubolz, 2016), desistance and disengagement have been the focus of separate literatures, resulting in knowledge silos. This paper tries to bridge these disciplinary and topical divides. Despite the differences between desisting from crime and disengaging from extremism, criminological research offers important insights both for understanding and supporting the process of disengagement.
In general, the victims of terrorism have not been personally targeted by terrorist acts. Through a dehumanizing phenomenon, they suddenly become the tool that allows, through the generated terror, to strike a social group, a state or a society as a whole. They are thus involved in the conflict between the terrorists and their real target. The support offered by the target to the victims is often insufficient, which can lead to a feeling of victimhood, and anger. The anger of the victims of terrorism can then be turned against the target, thus increasing the effectiveness of the attack by isolating the victims and weakening the coherence of the social group. It also happens that victims of terrorism get involved themselves later in terrorist activities.
My personal experience has shown me that another path is possible: a path of resilience through action and testimony. I was 26 years old when I lost my father in the attack perpetrated by the Libyan secret services on 19 September 1989, against a civilian plane, the UTA DC10. This bombing killed the 170 passengers and crewmembers of the flight UT772 Brazzaville - N’Djamena - Paris, over the Sahara Desert (Niger). What followed for me was an erratic and complex personal journey. At the age of 38, in February 2002 - almost 13 years after the bombing. The negotiations took two years. Other relatives of the victims of the attack have joined me in the process; the French Government has supported us. On 9 January 2004, we obtained that Libya recognize its responsibility in this heinous attack and compensate the 170 families up to 1$170 million dollars. This was the beginning of my personal reconstruction, which is still going on today.
Human trafficking, commonly referred to as ‘modern slavery’, continues to be a global issue and an industry that generates estimated annual profits of USD 150 billion worldwide.
From 2012 to 2017, 89 million people experienced some form of human trafficking. According to the U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report from July 2022, poverty human is an exacerbating cause of human trafficking in Tanzania.
Tanzania is among the countries greatly impacted by this phenomenon, and has recently witnessed an increase in trafficking crimes, predominantly involving online sexual exploitation. Tanzania is committed to preventing and combating human trafficking in and outside the country; this commitment was demonstrated by signing and ratifying the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementing Protocol to Prevent, Punish and Suppress Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol) in 2000 and 2006 respectively.
The importance of gender mainstreaming in preventing violent extremism (PVE) has increasingly been highlighted by many United Nations instruments. Amongst others, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism recognize women’s empowerment as an essential element for sustainable peace, while UN Security Council Resolution 2242 urges Member States to “gather gender-sensitive research and data collection on the drivers of radicalization for women.” In 2015, a Good Practice non-binding document on Women and Countering Violent Extremism was adopted by the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) and an Addendum with a Focus on Mainstreaming Gender was published in 2019. In the former, Good Practice 2 recommends parties to “identify gender dynamics in radicalization leading to terrorism and preventing it among women and girls.”
It was a warm and sunny March morning when the dust gathering at Mitiga International Airport was cleared and the landing strip was prepared to receive officials from the top echelons of Libyan, American, French and United Nations ranks. By 9:00 a.m., the officials made their way onto the tarmac to witness the arrival of a private jet dispatched by Bancroft Global Development for a special reason: the repatriation of Libyan cultural artefacts dating back to 300-400 B.C. pillaged from Cyrene (now called Shahhat) in the 1980s and 1990s amid growing instability and upheaval in the region. What the officials were witnessing was the fruition of years’ worth of efforts by an ad hoc network of archaeologists, law enforcement officials, and diplomats working tirelessly across the globe to preserve cultural artefacts.
On 8 July 2022, the death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot during a campaign speech, sent shockwaves through Japan. The assassination was perpetrated by a lone attacker who did not belong to a specific political group or gang, and a homemade gun was used. The attacker had a wealthy life when he was young, but after his mother began to donate a large amount of money to the Unification Church, the specific religious group that she joined, his family collapsed – his father and his brother committed suicide and his mother declared bankruptcy. As he fell into poverty, changing jobs many times, he began plotting to kill former Prime Minister Abe, isolated himself from society and started making homemade guns. Despite having one of the lowest crime rates in the world, the ‘lone wolf’ threat has become a growing problem in Japan, particularly in the form of non-ideological attacks that result in mass murder.
Lone attackers, who plan, prepare, and carry out violent acts without direction from a specific organization, have long been a problem in Western countries, and the threat has grown in recent years. Because lone attackers are relatively isolated compared to organized violent groups and their attacks are perceived as being spontaneous, it is more difficult for law enforcement to detect and thwart their plans. To tackle this issue, there is ongoing research in Western countries on their profiling, their psychological aspects, and the challenges of identifying them. According to Buuren G.M. van (2018), “academic research has explored topics like the demarcation between lone attackers and terrorist cells or networks, typologies of lone attackers, the motivation of lone attackers, and – lately – the attack patterns of lone actors”.
WRITTEN BY Matthew Burnett Stuart, Manuela Brunero
We are in Guité, a small village in Chad’s Hadjer Lamis province. Our team arrived in February 2022 to interview local communities and investigate how climate change vulnerability can affect various aspects of community life, including increased exposure to violent extremist activities and propaganda. In these words, one interviewee recounted the case of a particularly pointed appeal in which Boko Haram members explicitly linked climate change vulnerability to their recruitment efforts.
Indeed, climate change and violent extremism may appear unrelated, but evidence suggests they are inextricably linked. Climate change can act as a “risk multiplier”, exacerbating existing tensions, poverty, and conflict. In many cases, it creates an environment conducive to the recruitment of violent extremist groups.
In Chad, a country located on the banks of Lake Chad in the Sahel, this intersection of climate change and extremism is particularly acute. The country’s geography, high poverty levels, and the population’s dependence on natural resources for productive activities have made it particularly vulnerable to climate change and the growing insecurity that has rocked the Sahel in the last decades. The changing weather patterns, such as rising temperatures, unpredictable rainfall, and receding lakes, threaten the already unstable livelihoods and exacerbate existing vulnerabilities. At the same time, in recent years, Chad has also been greatly affected by violent extremist attacks, mainly from Boko Haram, as well as by its offshoot, the Islamic State in the West Africa Province (ISWAP). Attacks have been particularly prevalent in two provinces, Lac and Hadjer-Lamis, due to their proximity to northern Nigeria and location along Lake Chad, which - with its remote islands - allows Boko Haram militants to seek easy refuge.
WRITTEN BY Chiara Bologna, Christian Vianna de Azevedo
Over the last decade, South American based drug trafficking organizations have increasingly partnered with African based terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and ISIL’s affiliates and breakaways in West Africa and the Sahel, mainly. Terrorist organizations in Africa have been taking advantage of the opportunities for profit generated by their knowledge of the trans-Saharan land routes. They charge a fee per kilogram to escort, transport or store cocaine across North Africa to be delivered at the Mediterranean shores to Europe-based drug trafficking organizations. Therefore, West and Northern Africa have become key transshipment points for South American cocaine destined for Europe and the Middle East. Moreover, these terrorist organizations mentioned above are also involved in moving other types of drugs such as heroin and cannabis through the main hubs located in Africa.
Apart from the crime-terror nexus on drug trafficking, there are other myriad of instances in which different criminal activities may converge with terrorism. In the case of the Sahel there has been a lot of interplay between migrant smugglers and traffickers, and terrorists, as well as between them and cultural heritage smugglers, for instance. On top of that, criminal organizations launder the revenue acquired by terror organizations in an array of countries in Latin America and Africa, especially in real state enterprises and through different kinds of businesses.
Illicit trafficking and smuggling have been present in Africa for decades and the profits they generated amount for a large portion of the economy. The African continent plays a significant role in the global criminal economy, especially over the last two decades. It has a strategic geographic position, which connects the Americas with Europe and Asia and enables smuggling and trafficking between these continents.
The complex ties that link jihadist groups, criminals, smugglers, traffickers and local communities in West and Northern Africa and the Sahel areas have for years been the subject of scrutiny and concern. Therefore, financing of terrorism through engagement in organized crime activities is often discussed broadly by the international community regarding this region.
Several sources indicate connections between smugglers and terror groups/organizations in West and Northern Africa and the Sahel. As introduced above, the terror groups benefit from the collaboration more specifically in relation to funding. However, collaboration in the following areas is also present: tactical collaboration; taxing or protection money for smuggling and trafficking activities; mutual tolerance; individual conversions or radicalizations; and provision of weapons, among others.
Established in 1948, the Organization of American States (OAS) is the world’s oldest regional organization. It works to achieve peace, promote solidarity, strengthen collaboration and defend sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. With its four core pillars of democracy, human rights, security and development, the OAS serves as the Western Hemisphere’s primary political forum and today is comprised of 34 Member States and 71 permanent observers.
In 1999, in response to the region’s evolving terrorist threat, including the actions of the Shining Path in Peru and the attack against the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires (Argentina ), OAS Member States came together to create the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE), the region’s primary and most preeminent political body charged with promoting cooperation and coordination in order to prevent and counter terrorist activities. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks OAS Member States went a step further and established the CICTE Secretariat in 2002 to better support countries in meeting their counter-terrorism obligations.
This brief threat assessment report (originally published in October 2022) by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Institute (UNICRI) aims to analyse and assess the recent developments in Afghanistan and their broader implications on the security context at the domestic, regional, and international levels. This is a prelude to a more comprehensive report that will aim to explore and identify: (i) current sources of Taliban funding; (ii) the relationship between the Taliban and foreign terrorist groups, notably Al-Qaida and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan (ISIL-K); (iii) the use of sanctions, and their unintended consequences; (iv) regional relations and dynamics; and (v) potential implications for the European security context. The overall objective of this research is to provide actionable recommendations to guide the design of an integrated programme for neighbouring countries.
On 15 August 2021, the Taliban took power in Afghanistan after a devastating agreement which did not take into account the desires of the population. Since then, every right painstakingly gained by women and ethnic and religious minorities over the last 20 years has been erased, despite promises to the contrary. In addition to gender apartheid, the economy has collapsed, and the country has sunk into despair and poverty after 17 months.
I have been covering Afghanistan for 21 years, and since the Taliban arrived, I have returned every four or five months to prevent the spotlight on Afghanistan (and the West’s guilt) from being turned off.
A few years ago, I founded Radio Bullets with other colleagues, an independent and reader-funded news organisation that covers foreign affairs, human rights, and inclusivity, because we believed that mainstream media did not adequately cover stories that deserved to be known.
A conversation with Olivier Roy about terrorism, extremism and identity
The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) shows huge differences between countries in terms of exposure to terrorist activities. As an international organization addressing terrorism and violent extremism, which groups should we focus on? In other words, what is the state of violent extremist groups?
That’s a complex question! It depends on the areas of the world that you are considering, but a global trend can be distinguished. Major organized, radical groups like Da’esh and Al-Qaida are currently going through a crisis; they are in fact far less effective than they used to be due, for example, to internal turmoil, military defeats and efficiency of the law enforcement and intelligence services. Above all, Da’esh and Al-Qaida prioritized suicide actions that resulted in their best people losing their lives. The Bataclan terrorist attack in France was certainly well organized – the organizers had logistical support and had planned the coup for over one year – but they are now dead or in jail. As a result, that was the last organized terrorist action on French soil.
In March 2020, when the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, it was impossible to imagine its potential scale or intensity. Almost three years into this generation-defining crisis, it is clear that the pandemic has been a landmark event in current times and decisively influenced the geopolitical situation. Impacts of the pandemic have presented complex, multifaceted, and constantly evolving challenges for United Nations Member States, affecting almost every area of policy and practice, including counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism (CVE). While many States managed to deal with the effects of the pandemic, the long-term impacts remain fluid and evolving. Therefore, envisioning a post-pandemic landscape necessitates understanding existing trends, many of which have varied in scale, severity, scope, and intensity and differed across geographic regions, with growing disparities between resource-rich and resource-scarce States.
Introduction Today’s society experiences immense challenges to sustainable development. However, with challenges come great opportunities. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represents an opportunity to harmonise the economic, social, and environmental aspects of living. The 2030 Agenda was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 and came into effect on 1 January 2016. It provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. The 2030 Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with 169 associated targets which are integrated and indivisible. The SDGs constitute an urgent call for collective action by all countries in all continents. The Agenda calls for shared responsibilities, universality, engagement, and discussion. The SDGs explore the causes of our most pressing problems and provide answers to the contexts and needs at both local and global levels. The 2030 Agenda strikes a balance between human needs on the one hand, and the environment on the other hand, while trying to understand the complex dynamics of interaction between the two.
Under the patronage of the President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon, a 4-day inter-agency Chemical, Biological, Radiologica and Nuclear (CBRN) field exercise “ARZ 2021” took place on 6-9 December 2021 in Beirut, Lebanon. ARZ 2021, which focuses on countering CBRN terrorism, has been carried out under the leadership of the CBRN National Coordinator and the European Union Centres of Excellence (EU CBRN CoE) National Focal Point of Lebanon. The event was organized by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) in collaboration with the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC), Fondazione SAFE and the on-site assistance expert of the EU CBRN CoE.
This article presents the conclusions of the interviews conducted with the Heads of Secretariats of the EU CBRN CoE Initiative. Which are the critical regional capacities needed for an effective risk crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic? The answers of the interviewed Heads of Secretariats focus on three core concepts known as the “3Cs”: Coordination, Collaboration and Communication. The 3Cs are considered a pre-condition for an effective response to any CBRN major incident. These three components can be applied for an efficient response to a pandemic such as COVID-19. Coordination is envisaged at the technical level and focuses on the knowledge of response mechanisms, preparedness with Standard Operative Procedures (“SoPs”) and plans of action. These tools should be developed, tested and updated regularly. Cooperation is intended as interagency cooperation, with the involvement of multiple actors. It must allow to share resources and expertise at national and regional levels. In some regions, the “work in silos” approach adopted by civil agencies has been identified as an obstacle to allow adequate coordination at the national and regional levels. Also, the division between the civil and the military has been pointed as an additional challenge. Communication is intended as setting clear lines of early communication in order to effectively launch a coordinated response. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic has severely compromised the effective communication of public agencies with the population and challenged the trust in the governments.
Interview with: Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization Emergencies Programme and Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
What can COVID-19 tell us about the nature of biorisks (whether natural, accidental, or deliberate in origin)? Natural, accidental or deliberate biological events all fall on the same spectrum of biological risks. Regardless of the source (natural, technological, societal, accidental or deliberate), they all challenge the health systems in similar ways. In this regard, the COVID-19 pandemic is proving to us that strengthening the international community’s preparedness and response to such events is critical even before their origin is completely determined. Therefore, risk-based decision making, risk assessment/mitigation measures, emergency preparedness, response actions and community recovery activities need to be implemented along, ceteris paribus, relatively similar models, regardless of the cause.
Executive Director, Non-proliferation, Disarmament & Space Division at Global Affairs”; Former Director of Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program .
As the Director of the Weapons Threat Reduction Program at Global Affairs Canada since 2018, Ms. Angelica Liao-Moroz has a nuanced understanding of the complexities of national security efforts in an increasingly interconnected global environment. In this interview with F3, Ms. Liao-Moroz shares some of her experience on a wide-range of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) related issues, from sustainable capacity-building programs to emerging threats.