India’s decision to host the special session of the United Nations Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (UNSC-CTC) is one of a number of events planned by the Government to give its counter-terror diplomacy a greater push.

While the focus is on the future of the fight against terrorism, it is important to look at some of the challenges that already exist.


How did the ‘global war on terrorism’ did not benefit India?

  • The first challenge is that the “Global War On Terrorism” (GWOT), as it was conceived by a post-9/11 United States is over with the last chapter written last year, as the United States negotiated with the Taliban, and then withdrew from Afghanistan.
  • GWOT itself was built on an unequal campaign — when India had asked for similar help to deal with the IC-814 hijacking (December 1999) less than two years prior to the 9/11 attacks (with evidence now clear that those who the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government was forced to release were all terrorists who went on to help with planning, funding or providing safe havens to the al-Qaeda leadership), its pleas fell on deaf ears in the U.S., the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and of course, Pakistan, all of whom were hit by the same terrorists in later years.
  • Even after GWOT was launched, Pakistan’s role as the U.S.’s ally, and China’s “iron friend” ensured that the UNSC designations of those who threatened India the most, including Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed, never mentioned their role in attacks in India.
  • The maximum India received in terms of global cooperation was actually from economic strictures that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s grey list placed on Pakistan — Pakistan was cleared from this in October — indicating that the global appetite to punish Pakistan for terrorism has petered out.
  • In addition, the weak international reaction to the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, and its persecution of women and minorities in the country, demonstrate rising fatigue levels in dealing with “another country’s problems”. The hard reality for India is that the future of counter-terrorism cooperation is going to be less cooperative, and counter-terror regimes such as the UNSC Resolutions 1267, 1373, etc. rendered outdated and toothless.


Problem of polarisation

Away from the battlefield, the polarisation has rendered the body tasked with global peace, paralysed: as the UNSC is unable to pass any meaningful resolutions that are not vetoed by Russia or western members, and China has been able to block as many as five terror designations requested by India and the U.S.


CCIT – a lost opportunity

  • Perhaps the biggest opportunity lost due to the UNSC’s other preoccupations has been the need to move forward on India’s proposal, of 1996, of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).
  • While each conference, including the CTC meeting in Delhi, makes passing the CCIT a goal, very little progress has been made on the actual issues such as the definition of terrorism, concerns over human rights law conflicts, and the old debate on ‘freedom fighter vs terrorist’. Despite several changes in the draft made by India in 2016, consensus for the convention is still elusive.


Emerging threats of terrorism

  • The next challenge comes from emerging technologies and the weaponisation of a number of different mechanisms for terrorism purposes.
  • Drones are already being used to deliver funds, drugs, weapons, ammunition and even improvised explosive devices.
  • After the COVID-19 pandemic, worries have grown about the use of biowarfare, and Gain-of-Function (GoF) research to mutate viruses and vectors which could be released into targeted populations.
  • In a future that is already here, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) systems and robotic soldiers makes it even easier to perpetrate mass attacks while maintaining anonymity.
  • Terror financing uses bitcoins and cryptocurrency, and terror communications use social media, the dark web and even gaming centres.



Terrorist acts of the future will grow more and more lethal, will need fewer people to carry out, and with their sponsors having more and more anonymity. India, as host of these counter-terrorism events, and of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the next G-20, must stop fighting the “last war” on terrorism, and steer the global narrative towards preparing for the next ones.


SourceThe Hindu


QUESTION – The ghost of terrorism has not died as of yet, but grown bigger with emerging times. Discuss this in light of the recent counter-terror initiatives hosted by India. How global cooperation can be enhanced in this direction to protect our people from the scourge of terrorism?