As a global thought leader in the rapidly evolving field of international affairs, the NYU SPS Center for Global Affairs (CGA) often collaborates with external agencies and organizations. Most recently, it partnered with the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) in an ongoing research project that focused on terrorist threats. CGA has collaborated with CTED on 16 projects over the last eight years, that have focused on a range of terrorism and counter-terrorism topics. Each semester under the direction of CGA Clinical Professor Michael F. Oppenheimer, five to six CGA students have examined counter-terrorism issues of current and emerging priority to the UN. These have included ISIS use of social media to recruit and incite; how UN member states deal with terrorist fighters returning from Iraq and Syria; how the UN can work with the private sector and academic institutions to track emerging terrorist threats; the role of technology in countering terrorist threats; and the rise of right-wing terrorism and member state responses.
Deliverables of these annual collaborations have been shaped by UN client needs. Members of the CGA community have written papers, held workshops and conferences, delivered briefings, and built processes for collaborating with non-UN experts, firms, and state political actors. These deliverables have played a role in influencing UN Security Council resolutions, have made their way into CTED briefings for member states and other UN bodies, and have helped CTED keep abreast of emerging trends and disseminate these trend reports to their global network of experts.
In this latest collaboration on May 7, 2021, CGA and CTED co-hosted a critical discussion commemorating the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1373 (2001). The virtual roundtable featured 24 experts affiliated with CTED’s Global Research Network (GRN), and included six students led by Professor Oppenheimer.
The participants elaborated on the evolving dynamics of the global terrorist threat in four areas that focused on global counter-terrorism responses; terrorist actors and the changing threat landscape; operational factors and terrorist methodologies; and emerging trends, developments, and challenges.
Among the key issues raised were:
- major developments in counterterrorism policy and the introduction of new tools and legal instruments that have broadened the global counter-terrorism agenda.
- the failure to address sociopolitical grievances, which can potentially lead to radicalization and violence and undermine existing counter-terrorism efforts.
- the volatility and uncertainty of the evolving threat landscape and the need for consistent policies to address new challenges from extreme right-wing terrorist groups.
- the importance of addressing potential abuses by State actors, and understanding how such abuses can trigger mobilization and radicalization.
- gender dynamics in the current threat landscape, as well as the need to integrate vulnerable populations in counter-terrorism policies, including women and children.
- the pivotal role played by technology in recruitment, coordination, and promotion of terrorist activities, such as cryptocurrencies, drones, and sophisticated technologies.
As always, the collaboration played a critical role in bringing issues and insight into clearer focus and served as an incredible learning experience for CGA students.