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International cooperation and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy

The need to continually strengthen existing levels of cooperation is central to international counter-terrorism efforts, and, as such, it is embedded with the United Nations CT Strategy's agenda and framework. As it was examined in Module 1, terrorism is a complex, non-static phenomenon. Its associated motivations, financing and support mechanisms, methods of attack and choice of targets are often evolving, thereby compounding the challenges of ensuring the existence of an effective strategy to counter it. Moreover, its increasingly transnational nature requires enhanced criminal justice cooperation among States to deny safe havens to those who commit or attempt to commit terrorist crimes. Terrorism has truly become a global threat that requires a global and prevention-focused response. Numerous United Nations outputs, including Security Council resolutions, have articulated and re-emphasized that such cooperation needs to be strengthened at every level including bilaterally, regionally, and internationally, between all relevant actors (UNSC Resolution 2370 (2017); UNSC Resolution 2178 (2014)). As the United Nations' High-Level Panel Report in 2004 observed:

Today, more than ever before, threats are interrelated and a threat to one is a threat to all. The mutual vulnerability of weak and strong has never been clearer…. No State, no matter how powerful, can by its own efforts alone make itself invulnerable to today's threats. Every State requires the cooperation of other States to make itself secure. (United Nations, General Assembly, 2004, A/59/565, paras. 17 and 24).

The CT Strategy enumerates the many levels at which such cooperation must take place and highlights the various commitments of Member States in working together to combat terrorism. It expresses the international community's resolve to cooperate fully in this regard, in accordance with its obligations under international law, in order to find, deny safe haven to and bring to justice, on the basis of the principle of extradite or prosecute, any person who supports, facilitates, participates or attempts to participate in the financing, planning, preparation or perpetration of terrorist acts or provides safe havens to those who do. In each of the Pillars of the Strategy, Member States resolve to undertake various measures in pursuance of this goal. This is important since although international cooperation, including through the auspices of diverse international organizations such as the United Nations, is of great importance here, States retain the ultimate, overall responsibility for effective, rule of law compliant counter-terrorist responses.

Despite its many achievements and significance, including the securing of universal consensus, the CT Strategy has yet to achieve its full potential in practice. For example, work remains to be done in terms of how best to translate some of its goals into national or regional law, policy and practice.

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