Multilateralism is Essential in Fighting Terrorism

September 24, 2020

Interpretation of Speech by the President of Uzbekistan at the International Conference on the Tenth Anniversary of the Joint Action Plan for Implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy among Central Asian Countries

The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. Currently, although global counter-terrorism cooperation has made great progress, risks and challenges remain, and preventing and combating international terrorism is still a common issue for all countries. On September 23rd, the President of Uzbekistan, H.E. Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, attended the 75th Session of UN General Assembly and delivered a speech in video-conference format at the international conference on the tenth anniversary of the Joint Action Plan (JAP) for implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy among Central Asian countries.
In view of the effectiveness of Uzbekistan’s domestic counter-terrorism efforts in recent years and the active role it has played in promoting international cooperation in this area, Taihe Institute invited three experts to provide an interpretation of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s speech.
Uzbek president Mirziyoyev at UN
Cheng Honggang, Senior Fellow of Taihe Institute
The Government of Uzbekistan has always taken an active part in the work of the United Nations (UN) and firmly supports the purposes and principles of the Charter of the UN. Especially in the international counter-terrorism field, Uzbekistan has been an active practitioner of the UN counter-terrorism strategy, being widely praised by the international community. In 2000 at the UN Millennium Summit, Uzbekistan put forward the proposal of establishing an international counter-terrorism center under the UN framework. This proposal directly promoted the establishment of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee and made great contributions to the international counter-terrorism campaign.
In recent years, Uzbekistan has made significant achievements in its domestic counter-terrorism campaign, becoming one of the most stable countries in Central Asia. As the most populous country in this region, Uzbekistan witnessed the Andijan Tragedy that shocked the world in 2005 and was once a hard-hit area of terrorist activities. In recent years, under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan has set the priorities of national reform and modernization with new concepts and launched a number of major initiatives in the field of national security, which is: intensifying counter-terrorism operations; constantly revising and improving counter-terrorism laws in light of the changing situation; coordinating social organizations, religious groups and the police in fighting terrorism; mobilizing society to prevent and fight terrorism; and cracking down on and re-educating terrorists and its returnees involved in the Islamic State. All of these measures have brought out positive results.
Uzbekistan’s role in promoting international cooperation against terrorism is also important. First, Central Asian countries have taken the lead in implementing the Joint Plan of Action based on the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and achieved positive results. The stabilized security situation and the decrease in major terrorist incidents in Central Asia have been fully endorsed by the UN. Second, Uzbekistan has played an active role in the building of multilateral security mechanisms, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA), contributing to the stable region, the security environment and the peaceful development. Third, President Mirziyoyev repeatedly stressed the need to transform Central Asia into a region of stability, sustainable development, and good-neighborly relationships. To this end, Uzbekistan has made active efforts to promote the development of cooperation among Central Asian countries in various fields. For instance, it has put forward constructive suggestions on the settlement of border issues, the allocation of water resources, the energy cooperation and other problems among Central Asian countries, which without a doubt, will the strengthen mutual trust among them and promote the in-depth development of counter-terrorism cooperation in the region. Fourth, Uzbekistan has taken an active part in the peaceful settlement of the Afghan issue. Taking its geographical advantages, Uzbekistan assisted the reconstruction of Afghanistan, cracked down on the drug trade and prevented terrorism from spreading to Central Asia.
In his speech, President Mirziyoyev briefly summarized the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action over the past decade, fully recognized its positive role in the counter-terrorism interaction among Central Asian countries, and put forward suggestions on its further implementation in the coming years. In his opinion, there is an urgent need to conduct moral education to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorist thoughts in society. Second, a direct interaction mechanism for law enforcement agencies to strictly investigate cross-border terrorist activities in Central Asia and to cut off the recruitment channels and funding sources of terrorist groups needs to be established. Third, a robust cyber security system is needed to ensure that the extremists’ attacks in the cyberspace can be prevented. The questions raised by President Mirziyoyev highlighted the new characteristics of current terrorist activities. It is reasonable to believe that the Joint Plan of Action for Central Asia under the UN framework will continue to being injected vitality into its multilateral interactions in the security field to enhance the level of cooperation among these countries. Uzbekistan will also continue to make use of the experience gained in its counter-terrorism practice to play a larger role internationally and to make more valuable contribution to the security and prosperity of the region.
Sun Changdong, Fellow of Taihe Institute, Counselor of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Kazakhstan Embassy
President Mirziyoyev’s address once again showed the great importance that Central Asian countries attach to the issue of counter-terrorism. The Central Asian region is close to the Middle East and Afghanistan, which are among the worst hit areas by international terrorism and extremism. Since the independence of the five Central Asian countries, this region has witnessed tremendous political, ideological, and socio-economic changes or violent upheavals, as well as the revival of Islamic religious forces. Such a social upheaval has a huge impact on people’s mentality. International terrorism took advantage of this situation to root in the countries of Central Asia, and spread extremism ideology and terrorist activities. Although great achievements have been made in fighting terrorism and extremism among Central Asian countries, the threat of international terrorism and extremism remained a pressing issue for ensuring security and stability in this region, as President Mirziyoyev had said.
Multilateralism has been extremely important in combating terrorism. The Chinese Government has repeatedly stressed that the international community should adhere to multilateralism and work together to solve common problems facing mankind. President Xi Jinping, at the summit commemorating of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN, once again called on all countries in the world to adhere to multilateralism. Terrorism is a common threat facing the Central Asian countries. Only by working together and strengthening cooperation can they overcome terrorism. Countries of Central Asia are China’s close neighbors. China has maintained the close cooperation with these countries under the frameworks of the UN, the SCO and other international organizations. China is ready to join hands with Central Asian countries, including Uzbekistan, to combat international terrorism, to advocate multilateralism, to participate actively in the reform and construction of global governance system, and to firmly uphold the international system with the UN as its core, and the international order based on international law.
Zhang Ning, Director of the Institute of Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies (CASS)
Uzbekistan is a country with a well-developed Islamic civilization. Historically, there have been many famous scholars of Islam. Muslims are the main population in the country. In the latter years of the Soviet Union and after its collapse, non-traditional fundamentalism and radicalism from the Middle East and elsewhere took advantage of Uzbekistan’s predicament, particularly those violent and extremist forces in Fergana, subjecting Uzbekistan to tremendous suffering from terrorism and extremism. As a result of the harsh crackdown under successive governments, the violent terrorist and extremist forces in Uzbekistan have essentially been eliminated and the national security and social order have been guaranteed.
Uzbekistan is one of the countries in the world which is most aware of the threat that terrorism and extremism bring, and also one of the countries with rich experience in combating terrorism and extremism. That is the reason why Uzbekistan is willing to introduce the dangers of terrorism and extremism to our international community, and to share its experience in combating terrorism and extremism and to carry out the collaboration in fighting terrorism and extremism.
At the early stage of the country’s independence, the first president of Uzbekistan proposed to hold a “Central Asian Security Forum” to work on the regional security situation and to carry out regional security cooperation. Following the unanimous adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by 192 member states of the UN on September 8th, 2006, Uzbekistan, together with other Central Asian countries, launched the world’s first plan of measures to implement the strategy in 2011. It was a plan that made the principles of the strategy to take actions, and provided a model for other countries to develop their own documents, rather than remaining at the theoretical and conceptual level. Enabling the implementation of the strategy was also a major contribution made by Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan believes that the fight against terrorism and extremism requires a combination of prevention and physical strikes. Only by taking a systematic and integrated approach to an incident which closely coordinates active prevention with a robust response can achieve success in the fight against terrorism and extremism.
Since Mr. Mirziyoyev took office as President in 2016, while maintaining a high level of crackdown against violent, terrorist, and extremist forces, Uzbekistan has been actively engaged in building a “spiritual and moral renewal of society”. By strengthening social and cultural education, utilizing the traditional advantages of the Uzbek people in the field of Islamic thought and theory, and granting leniency to those who have renounced extremist ideas and activities, those who are “aware of their mistakes and wish to restore a peaceful way of life” could back into the society. It can be said that Uzbekistan, through its practical actions, has set an excellent example for national anti-terrorism and anti-extremism actions and has greatly foster regional and international counter-terrorism cooperation.
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