Council of Europe’s Role in Europe’s Counter-Terrorism Landscape

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Europe is considered to be the region most affected by minor terrorism. However, Fighting terrorism is a top emphasis for Europe. The European States work jointly to contain terrorist attacks and guarantee the security of citizens. Three intergovernmental organisations in Europe are engaged in counter-terrorism Policies. It includes the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation and the European Union. In this article, we will only discuss the efforts of the Council of Europe in preventing terrorism. 

The Council of Europe was launched in 1949 and is the oldest intergovernmental institution in Europe. It comprises 47 Member States. The Council seeks to promote and defend human rights, the rule of law and parliamentary democracy. It is located in Strasbourg, France. 

The main mechanisms against terrorism are adopted by the Committee of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly. The Committee of Ministers is the Council’s primary decision-making and treaty-adopting body. It includes Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Member States. Its deliberative body is the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). It assumes non-binding proposals, resolutions, and opinions. 

The significant principles of the Council’s strategy for terrorism concern a three-pronged approach. It is strengthening the legal framework, tackling the causes of terrorism, and safeguarding fundamental values. PACE delivers non-judicial supervision over the counter-terrorism approaches and practices of Member States.

The Council has adopted several mechanisms against terrorism. Its top counter-terrorism framework treaty is the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing Terrorism. It was adopted on 16 May 2005 and entered into force on 1 June 2007. Further, it replaces the earlier European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. An overall Convention’s purpose is to improve the persuasiveness of existing international texts on the fight against terrorism. 

Furthermore, it strives to support Member States’ measures to prevent terrorism: It includes “establishing criminal offences specific acts that may guide to the commission of terrorist offences, namely: public stimulation, recruitment, and training; and strengthening co-operation on deterrence both internally (national prevention guidelines), and internationally (modification of existing extradition and mutual assistance agreements and additional means).”

Another Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism was adopted on 22 October 2015. It entered into force in July 2017. It does several acts, including participation in an organisation or group for terrorism, acquiring terrorist training, travelling abroad for terrorism, and financing or organising travel for this intent, a criminal offence. 

This Additional Protocol was adopted in reaction to Security Council Resolution 2178. It cooperates with the United Nations and assesses that there were at least 25,000 foreign combatants who have entered the ranks of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It includes some European and Asian countries within its membership. For the first time in international statute, this mechanism makes the preparation of acts of terrorism at the initial stage, which includes recruitment, training, and the preparation and funding of travel for terrorism. Similarly, in May 2015, the Council of Europe established a three-year strategy to prevent violent extremism and radicalisation, especially in schools, prisons, and the Internet.

The Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly have adopted several declarations, resolutions, and suggestions on wide-ranging terrorism-related matters. These measures contain several innovations. It includes the Council of Europe Convention on Money Laundering, Search, Seizure, and Impounding of the Proceeds from Crime and the Funding of Terrorism (CETS No. 198). It was adopted on 16 May 2005 and entered into force on 1 May 2008. It is the first global treaty enfolding both the containment and control of money laundering and the financing of terrorism. 

The Committee of Ministers adopted a strategy for the fight against violent extremism and radicalisation directed at terrorism in 2015. This has two central purposes: to strengthen the legal framework against terrorism and extremism and to contain and fight damaging radicalisation through tangible actions in the public sector. 

In addition to designing legal standards to control and repress acts of terrorism through criminal law and other actions that fully admire human rights and the rule of law, a central priority of the Council has been to maintain international cooperation in conveying terrorists to justice. 

To accomplish this, it has formed a Committee of Experts on Terrorism. It aids in implementing the Council’s counter-terrorism mechanisms and conforms to its related actions. Current focus subjects include potential gaps in the Council of Europe’s anti-terrorism legal framework in containing and repressing terrorism and the lack of a shared universal definition of “terrorism.”

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