International cooperation in the fight against terrorism

The fight against terrorism and its causes is now viewed as a collective effort on the part of all members of the international community. Switzerland, too, is actively involved in international cooperation in this field.

The coordination of Switzerland’s counter-terrorist activities is the responsibility of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). Within the department, the Directorate of International Law is the central point of contact and chairs the interdepartmental working group on terrorism.

Switzerland has ratified 16 of the 18 universal UN universal conventions and protocols on combating specific forms of terrorism. It has also entered into specific bilateral agreements with individual states including those governing police cooperation with its neighbouring states. Switzerland is also directly involved in various European Union instruments, such as Europol and Schengen.

In addition to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, the UN Security Council plays a substantial role in the fight against terrorism. It has adopted several resolutions providing for measures against suspected terrorists. It has also set up a Counter-Terrorism Committee to oversee and monitor the implementation of these measures. In recent years, Switzerland has submitted several reports to this committee regarding implementation of its international obligations in the fight against terrorism.

In September 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. As a contribution to the implementation of the UN strategy, Switzerland, together with Costa Rica, Japan, Slovakia and Turkey, initiated an International Process on Global Cooperation in Combating Terrorism. The purpose of the process was to develop ideas for more effective coordination of fighting terrorism within the UN and to give the UN measures against terrorism greater legitimacy, particularly with regard to compliance with human rights. The final document contains 19 recommendations presented by Switzerland to the UN General Assembly in September 2008 during the first formal review of the implementation of the UN strategy.

The 19 recommendations include a proposal for the creation of a new UN platform, intended to facilitate discussion among counter-terrorism coordinators of the member states and between the latter and UN representatives and other international institutions on current problems and solutions in combating terrorism. Given the generally accepted need to tie in UN measures more closely with the needs of member states and thus lay the groundwork for the successful implementation of the UN strategy, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Japan, Norway, Austria, Slovakia and Turkey as well as the responsible UN bodies organized an International Workshop of National Counter-Terrorism Focal Points in Vienna on 12 and 13 October 2009. In particular, this new platform should provide the opportunity not only to discuss issues relating to improved coordination, but also issues relating to the practical aspects of protecting human rights in combating terrorism and issues relating to the causes that fuel terrorism.

From November 2010 until May 2012 the Office of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) – co-sponsored by Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Austria, Turkey as well as the US – organized four regional conferences held in Indonesia, Ethiopia, Namibia and Bangladesh. The aim was to determine the needs of these regions in implementing the Global Strategy.

On 13 and 14 June 2013 the second global conference of the national focal points was held in Geneva entitled „International Counter-Terrorism Focal Points Conference on Addressing Conditions Conducive to the Spread of Terrorism and Promoting South Cooperation Department”. It was organized by the Office of the CTITF together with Switzerland. This second global conference served again as a platform for exchange of information and experience between national counter-terrorism coordinators of all regions of the world. It examined the results of the regional conferences in order to strengthen regional implementation of the UN Strategy. In addition, solutions to reduce the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism were discussed.

Switzerland has also been a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum since September 2011. The Forum comprises around 29 states from all continents, plus the EU, and its aims are to strengthen and supplement the already existing international activities in the area of counterterrorism. In this forum, Switzerland in particular advocates for efficient coordination with the United Nations.

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