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International Relations

The Big Picture - BRICS: Focus on Terrorism

  • 06 Dec 2019
  • 8 min read

In a recently concluded BRICS summit, member states have urged for concerted efforts to fight terrorism in accordance with the international law under United Nation umbrella.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the plenary session of BRICS, highlighted that terrorism has caused loss of approximately 1 trillion dollars to the world economy and 2.25 lakh people have lost their life due to terror acts in over a decade. This has also reduced the economic growth of developing countries by 1.5%.

Brasilia Declaration

The 11th BRICS summit was held in Brasilia (Brazil). The declaration condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and highlighted that it should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization, and recognizes terrorist acts as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivations.

  • The declaration stressed the need to tackle the misuse of information and communication technologies (ICT) for terrorist activities and combating illicit financing of terrorist networks and terrorist actions.
  • It also emphasized on the importance of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in curtailing terror funding.
  • In the recent fourth meeting of the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Working Group, the member nations have decided to constitute five sub-working groups on counter-terrorism in-
    • Terrorist financing
    • Use of the Internet for terrorist purposes
    • Countering radicalization
    • Issue of foreign terrorist fighters
    • Capacity-building
  • India hosted the first meeting of the BRICS Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism in September 2016 at New Delhi.

Significance of the Declaration

Basically, there are two pillars on which terrorism spreads i.e ideology and finances. The Brasilia declaration comprises of significant commitment in tackling these two aspects.

  • Terror Financing: The declaration encourages dialogue among BRICS countries on key issues of Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) and proposed the institutionalisation of AML/CFT BRICS council.
    • It also emphasizes the importance of upholding and supporting the objectives of the FATF and intensifying the cooperation to implement and improve FATF Standards.
  • ICT: The declaration reaffirms the importance of establishing legal frameworks of cooperation among BRICS member States for ensuring security in the use of ICTs.
    • Online radicalization through social media is the upcoming phenomenon. The terrorists are spreading their ideology to distant places without any physical presence, which is fatal from a security perspective for the whole world.
    • In this regards, the declaration asked for significant commitments from member states to curtail the use of ICT for radicalization.
  • Message: The declaration gives a clear message to countries supporting terrorism, that the BRICS nations have signed a set of proposals/commitment which says they do not give legitimacy to anything in spreading cross border terrorism.
    • China’s compliance with the declaration is very important from India’s perspective because of China’s closeness to Pakistan.
  • Responsibility of State: The declaration holds member nation responsible for curtailing terrorism, preventing money laundering and use of ICT for spreading terrorism.
  • Economic Aspect: BRICS countries together accounts for 42% of the world’s population, 23% of GDP and around 17% share of world trade.
    • India highlighted the economic loss of $1 trillion to the world economy due to terrorism. BRICS nations are the biggest losers as it has slowed down the economic growth of developing countries by 1.5%.
    • Therefore, the Brasilia declaration is significant in tackling the economic downturn due to terrorism.
  • United Nations Umbrella: The declaration provided that all the framework for terror to be brought under UN umbrella, which will provide opportunities for inclusive action from other UN member nations.

BRICS Nations affected by Terrorism

  • Brazil: Broadly, Brazil does not have a terrorism problem, there is very little Islamic activities in Latin America. It mainly faces the problem of organised crime which does not fall under the BRICS ambit.
  • South Africa: South Africa also does not have any major terrorism problem, there are few small Islamic groups operating with no significant activity. The biggest African terrorist group like Boko-Haram, Al-Shabaab do not operate in South Africa.
  • Russia: The major focus of Russia is the terrorism emanating from the Chechnya region because this region contributes to the maximum amount of foreign fighter of Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group.
    • Russia is also worried about the terrorism problem emanating from the Taliban in neighbouring Central Asian countries.
  • China: Xinjiang Autonomous region is plagued with the terrorism problem. The local Muslim minority Uyghur/Uighur population demands territorial independence.
    • Therefore, for preventing militant activities, the Chinese government is taking extreme measures by putting local Uyghur/Uighur population in the internment camps and changing the whole demography of the region.
  • India: Among the BRICS nation, India is the worst sufferer of terrorism. The state-sponsored cross-border terrorism is the biggest threat to India. Now, ISIS is the new emerging threat because several cases of radicalisation and youngster joining ISIS modules have been seen in Southern India.

Way Forward

  • Terrorism problem in BRICS nations have a slightly different perspective and angle in each country, that is why terror financing and use of ICT in the area of convergence as these are common elements to each of them.
    • Therefore, BRICS nations should form a ‘common action plan’ for curbing funding networks and the use of ICT for radicalisation.
  • BRICS nations should also focus on creating the parallel financial architecture which incorporates anti-terror mandate to curb illicit financing.
  • BRICS forms a platform to sensitize the very large segment of the society against the menace of terrorism. It gives a wider message to the world community that today terrorism may not be a problem for them, but can certainly hit them tomorrow. Therefore, collaborated and concentrated efforts are required by the world community.
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