Madrid agenda and the counter terrorism fight, 2005, Madrid, Spain

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The global strategy for the fight against terrorism and the Madrid Agenda, 2005

In the last session of the “Democracy, terrorism and security” summit, Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, presented “a global strategy for the fight against terrorism” structured around 5 themed topics, which he called the “5 Ds”:
·        Dissuading disaffected groups from employing terrorism as an option. To achieve this, it is necessary to demonstrate that their arguments are incorrect: they believe that their tactics are effective, and that the population approves of them as well.  Moral and political authorities from all levels, as well as civil society have been asked to categorically state that terrorism is unacceptable under any circumstances.  Kofi Annan also stated that every state that resorts to terrorism must be condemned through one of the existing rules of international law which forbids States to use arms against a civil society.  Attention to the victims must be a priority.  
·        We must deny terrorists the means to carry out their attacks.  Measures to prevent money laundering and access to and exportation of nuclear material are encouraged.  
·        We must deter states from supporting terrorists.  The UN Security Council will not hesitate from using coercive measures against states which support terrorist groups.  
·        Developing state capacity to prevent terrorism, by promoting good government, a State of Law and by strengthening the police and security forces whilst ensuring that Human Rights are respected.  We must help countries who cannot afford to provide these measures.  Along these lines, the UN’s Counter Terrorism Committee will develop a technical assistance strategy.  The countries must offer citizen education based on scientific reflection and free thoughts.  Faced with the threat of biological terrorism, the experts recommend that the Health Service is strengthened, especially local systems, which will be responsible for observing whether infectious or deadly epidemics appear.
·        Defending Human Rights.  World and UN experts agree that many of the measures designed to combat terrorism violate Human Rights, and, as a result, these measures generate hate, tensions and mistrust towards the governments in the regions where terrorist groups may recruit their members.  It is proposed that a special Rapporteur will be appointed to inform the Human Rights Commission on the compatibility between anti-terrorist measures and International Human Rights instruments.
Furthermore, throughout his speech, Kofi Annan offered a universal definition of terrorism: “any action constitutes terrorism if it is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants, with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act”.  This definition could be subject to controversy given the fact that it is not evident whether it includes attacks carried out against armed civil groups, such as what is happening in the conflict between Israel and Palestine [1].

The UN’s recommendations were incorporated into the Madrid Agenda which was the main outcome of the summit. This declaration brings together a set of guidelines and urges governments, institutions, Civil Society and the media to resolutely fight against terrorism.   It’s worthwhile mentioning some of its key points:

The need for a global, UN backed response to terrorism.  The call for a conclusion shortly to the Global Agreement on International Terrorism.  The creation at a national level of High Commissions for victims of terrorism.  A strengthening of international cooperation: the creation of regular discussion forums, the strengthening of regional organisations which must be aimed at the local needs and support local networks.  The creation of a monetary fund.  Fighting against risk factors: promoting cultural and religious dialogue at a local level, social, political and economic steps, mediating and making peace in societies affected by long-lasting conflicts, a strengthening of democratic institutions.  Treating terrorism as a specific crime, therefore preventing impunity as well as breaching human rights in the fight against terrorism.  Promoting secure exchanges of information between states and the creation of a storage system for medicine and vaccines.  Harmonising national and international instruments, creating national action plans to fight against terrorism, and doubling efforts in the fight against the increase in the number of weapons of mass destruction.  To achieve this, it would be worthwhile investigating countries that are suspected of supporting terrorist networks.  Depriving terrorists of their financial means: fighting against drug trafficking, promoting the creation of financial intelligence units.  Creating a global citizenship network and an early warning system which support each other.  Citizens are asked to become actively involved.

As much the Madrid Agenda as the worldwide anti-terrorist strategy have emphasised the role of States, international organisations and Civil Society in the implementation of the recommendations. Organisations within Civil Society have been invited to attack the local causes of terrorism, a task which identified teaching tolerance as a key factor.  The point of view of cities and of local representatives needs to be sufficiently considered in order for good government to occur.

One of the experts who during the summit led debates on Civil Society, Mary Kaldor, stated that terrorism is an extreme response to the globalisation of economies, which leads to phenomena such as anxiety and exclusion.  To combat this problem, she recommended revising the meaning and the nature of the current world policy, starting with the level where globalization is first felt; the local level.

Mary Kaldor underlined that the economic and social uncertainties which lead to the rise in terrorism are related to immigration, accelerated urbanisation, unemployment and extremist forms of religious teachings.  Are these not the issues which European cities currently have to deal with in order to prevent crime and to fight against feelings of insecurity?

The EFUS has repeatedly reiterated the role of cities and of local representatives in the fight against international terrorism, as well as the need to increase the amount of information exchanged and the coordination between people on all levels, in order to strengthen the local and national capacities regarding reacting to as much as preventing terrorist attacks.

After having considered the conclusions of the “Democracy, terrorism and security” summit, the EFUS has shown its desire for there to be greater participation of local groups and people in the forthcoming initiatives and meetings with regards to the fight against terrorism.  National authorities must realise the important role that local people play in the fight against terrorism.  But also, local authorities must be able to act in a proactive way in preventing problems that could find a breeding ground in urban spaces.

Social policies, immigration policies, education policies, and economic policies must take into account risk factors that can promote terrorist groups’ actions. Intercultural and inter-religious dialogue must be strengthened.  Schemes such as these, which are led by Civil Society must conform to the city’s policy.  The fight against terrorism therefore represents a debate which must form part of the agenda of local security meetings. 

[1] Le Monde, March 11th 2005.