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Covid pandemic likely exacerbated factors conducive to terrorism, UN committee report warns

Covid pandemic likely exacerbated factors conducive to terrorism, UN committee report warns
A report from the UN Security Council (UNSC) Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) has warned that the Covid pandemic likely increased factors that contribute to terrorism, despite not finding clear signs of increased violence.

Released on Wednesday, the CTC’s ‘Update on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on terrorism, counterterrorism and countering violent extremism’ raised concerns about the risk that the Covid pandemic is “likely to have increased the underlying drivers and structural factors that are often conducive to terrorism.”

While the CTC recognizes that it is “difficult to determine” the pandemic’s long-term effects on counter-terrorism efforts, the committee predicts that it “will likely have a significant impact” on states’ ability to combat terrorism. 

In examining the situation, the CTC conducted a survey across member states, speaking to UN agencies and private-sector organizations, as well as the committee’s network of regional experts. The results found that 44% of respondents believe Covid has increased the risk of terrorism in their region and 69% fear the pandemic has made countering terrorism more challenging.

Regardless of changing threats, the committee’s report highlighted it’s unlikely there will be a return to “pre-pandemic norms”, as the “methods and approaches” previously used to combat extremism and terrorism are “likely to have shifted significantly and permanently” during the Covid crisis.

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Offering a potential solution, the CTC proposed that states rebalance their counter-terrorism budgets to recognize national priorities and provide resources to areas most impacted by the threat of violence.

The CTC was set up in 2001 in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. Comprising all 15 members of the UNSC, the committee has been monitoring and evaluating the impact of Covid on terrorism, counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism, producing three reports to date during the pandemic. 

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