VIOLENT EXTREMISM AND TERRORISM (LEGAL ASPECTS)
The threats of violent extremism and terrorism were major concerns for the international community, especially for states in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Combating violent extremism and terrorism was a priority for states worldwide, and as a contemporary issue in international law, the topic of violent extremism, within the broad context of terrorism, focusing on legal issues, was introduced to AALCO's work program in 2014.
The item "International Terrorism" was placed on AALCO's Fortieth Session agenda, held in New Delhi, India (2001), following a reference made by the Government of India. It was believed that AALCO's consideration of this item would be useful and relevant in the context of ongoing negotiations in the Ad hoc Committee of the United Nations on the elaboration of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT). During AALCO's Forty-First Annual Session in Abuja, Nigeria (2002), a comprehensive Special Meeting on "Human Rights and Combating Terrorism" was organized with the assistance of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Subsequent sessions directed the AALCO Secretariat to monitor and report on the progress in the Ad hoc Committee on negotiations related to the drafting of the CCIT and requested the Secretariat to carry out an in-depth study on this topic. AALCO's Centre for Research and Training (CRT) subsequently published "A Preliminary Study on the Concept of International Terrorism" in 2006.
In response to the atrocities committed by extremist groups in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, the title of the topic was modified to "Violent Extremism and Terrorism (Legal Aspects)" at the request of the Islamic Republic of Iran and introduced into AALCO's agenda in 2014 at the Fifty-Third Annual Session held in Tehran, Iran. The Fifty-Third Annual Session also included a half-day Special Meeting on the topic.
The introduction of the modified topic into AALCO's agenda followed the unanimous adoption of UN General Assembly Resolution 68/127, entitled "A World Against Violence and Violent Extremism," on 18 December 2013, which, among other things, strongly condemned violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations, denounced sectarian violence, and recognized the need for a comprehensive approach to countering violent extremism while addressing the conditions conducive to its spread. Soon after, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2178 on 24 September 2014. This resolution, co-sponsored by more than 100 nations, stressed the importance of addressing the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters and strengthening international cooperation.
The Fifty-Third Annual Session included a half-day Special Meeting on the topic of "Violent Extremism and Terrorism (Legal Aspects)," during which a resolution was passed (AALCO/RES/53/SP2), directing the AALCO Secretariat to "coordinate holding inter-session meetings […] to consider AALCO principles for coordination to combat violent extremism and its manifestations which could lead to drafting Asian-African guidelines on violent extremism and its manifestations […]." This directive was also reiterated via resolution AALCO/RES/54/S9 at the Fifty-Fourth Annual Session in Beijing, the People's Republic of China (2015). In pursuance of these directives, the AALCO Secretariat convened two Inter-Sessional Meetings of Legal Experts on Violent Extremism and its Manifestations: from 28-29 January 2016; and on 16 May 2016. During these two-day meetings, the Secretariat's draft on "Principles and Guidelines to Combat Violent Extremism and its Manifestations" was considered by legal experts from the AALCO Member States.
The resolution adopted on the Fifty-Sixth Annual Session in 2017 took note of the deliberations that took place at the meetings of the Working Group on Violent Extremism and Terrorism and the work of the Secretariat on the topic, particularly in relation to documents AALCO/55/HEADQUARTERS (NEW DELHI)/2016/SD/S9 and AALCO/56/NAIROBI/2017/SD/S9, and its efforts in facilitating the work on principles and guidelines to combat violent extremism and its manifestations.