United Nations: Propaganda over social media that is contributing to the global spread of terrorism has to be monitored and countered, India has appealed to the international community while expressing concern that the fight against terror was being hobbled by a lack of cooperation.
“The Hydra-like monster of terrorism continues to spread across continents in developing and developed countries alike, aided by the targeted propaganda of hatred over the ever growing social media networks that were designed to bring people together,” India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Security Council Wednesday. “The misuse of social media to disastrous effect by terrorist groups needs to be monitored carefully and countered, with due safeguards for respecting freedom of expression.”
Countering the propaganda on the social media requires a “positive and balanced narratives about the fallacies of extremist ideologies and successes of peaceful co-existence need to be projected more widely,” he said speaking at a debate on “Countering the Narratives and Ideologies of Terrorism.”
The General Assembly was simultaneously holding a debate on Peace and Security and at both meetings Akbaruddin brought up international failures in fighting terror.
Shuttling between the two meetings, at the Assembly he criticised the UN’s ineffectiveness and lack of focus in dealing with terrorism and suggested creating an anti-terrorism czar at the UN.
“Here at the United Nations there is a disaggregated counter terrorism infrastructure with no effort to tie them together in a seamless weave under a high level functionary,” he said. “We need to address this.”
“The fight against terrorism is not succeeding so far because there is insufficient international cooperation,” he said at the Council.
“Narrow perceived interests have often prevented the framing of legal frameworks for international cooperation and even the effective implementation of sanctions that could restrict possible threats,” he said.
Efforts to adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism have stalled for over 20 years because of differences over defining terrorist organisations and terrorists.
Meanwhile, China’s veto has prevented Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohamed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, who is behind the January Pathankot air force base attack, from being put on a UN sanctions list as a terrorist and action against Pakistan for freeing Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the Lashkar-e-Taiba mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack in which 166 people were killed.
Outlining the complexities of terrorism recruitment, Akbaruddin said at the Council that foreign terrorist fighters were of vastly varying ethnicities, social backgrounds, education qualifications, economic status with only the age bracket of mid-teens to mid-20s and their male gender being common factors.
“The ideological framework guiding the terrorist groups, is their real strength. It is built upon very specific and extreme arguments,” he said. “Active engagement of local community and religious leaders may be necessary in disseminating more moderate and mainstream teachings challenging the radical and motivated interpretations.”
At the Assembly debate he raised the issue of the reform and expansion of the Council, which has been held up for decades. “When the UN was created, its main focus was maintaining peace between the then established powers” he said. “The world has moved on. The centre of gravity of the globalised economy continues to shift in a profound way.”
“At the same time, we are faced with efforts to spin issues of Reform of the Security Council in an endless manner,” he added.