The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will not take the continuous rise of radicalisation and violent extremism in the region sitting down as ASEAN ministers and officials on transnational crime recently adopted the Manila Declaration to Counter the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism to deepen regional cooperation against these emerging threats.
The document was adopted last week during the 11th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) held at Conrad Manila in Pasay City
AMMTC Leader-Philippines and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) OIC-Secretary Catalino S. Cuy is elated with the adoption of the Manila Declaration under his chairmanship, saying that “this landmark document signifies the strong determination of the ASEAN region to work together in effectively addressing these threats.”
“From our experiences in the past, we have learned that we can achieve greater heights when we collaborate with one another. We should therefore exhibit the same cooperation to counter the rise of radicalisation and violent extremism in our region. The Manila Declaration firms up this partnership to counter these threats,” says Cuy.
Through the Manila Declaration, AMMTC leaders vowed to counter radicalisation and violent extremism, in particular those which lead to terrorism in all forms and manifestations, through the prevention of radicalisation, financing, recruitment, and mobilization of individuals into terrorist groups.
They also acknowledged that strong emphasis on the aspect of deradicalisation should be given in rehabilitation and reintegration programs as part of comprehensive measures in countering terrorism.
According to them, a sustained and proactive approach through capacity building programs focused on promoting peace education is also primordial to inculcate the importance of moderation, social and ethical values for the prevention and peaceful resolution of conflict as well as efforts against violent extremism and radicalisation.
Information sharing and exchanges on best practices among ASEAN Member States on countering and preventing radicalisation will also be sustained as well as the provision of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and extradition related to the rise of radicalisation and violent extremism.
AMMTC leaders likewise committed to develop an integrated, evidence-based approach to addressing such threats by promoting dialogue and conflict prevention; strengthening good governance, human rights and the rule of law; engaging communities; empowering the youth and women and promoting gender equality; providing education, skills development, and employment facilitation; and strengthening strategic communications, the internet, and social media.
Community-based approaches will also be actively pursued through programs that build trust and strengthen cooperation between vulnerable communites and the police.
The AMMTC leaders also saw the importance of developing and implementing, together with relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, a comprehensive regional communications campaign plan to counter radical narratives using all forms of information and communication.
In order to ensure that these commitments will materialize, the AMMTC established an Ad-Hoc Experts Working Group under the Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) to formulate and develop an ASEAN Plan of Action to Prevent and Counter the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism with Indonesia taking the lead.
Aside from this, they will also pursue strong collaborations with dialogue partners and other stakeholders through the exchange of experiences, lessons learned, and best practices in addressing radicalisation and violent extremism.
In addition, existing mechanisms for addressing terrorism, radicalism and violent extremism such as the conduct of a regular regional dialogue to strengthen national and regional counter terrorism efforts will also be beefed up.
In adopting the Manila Declaration, the AMMTC heads reaffirmed their commitment to the aims and objectives of the Langkawi Declaration on the Global Movement of the Moderates adopted on 27 April 2015 and the Kuala Lumpur Declaration in Combating Transnational Crime on 30 September 2015.
They also acknowledged the initiative of the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines in convening the first and second ASEAN Ministerial Meetings on the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism.