Global Governance | Analysis and New Insights

Multilateral Counterterrorism: Harmonizing Political Direction and Technical Expertise

Alistair Millar | November 2010


Multilateral cooperation on counterterrorism offers a window into the roles of agenda-setters at the top political levels of government, and the working-level experts whose command of intricate practicalities are so essential to implementation. As multilateral counterterrorism has drawn more than one hundred international agencies, councils, and offices into the effort, clear and effective collaboration between the two levels has become that much more important.

The synchronization of international objectives in the UN global counterterrorism strategy has created an opening both for better technical and political multilateral coordination. A risk remains, though, that by focusing on a short list of priority areas—such as countering violent extremism in Yemen—the international community might be giving short shrift to other regions where political violence could also threaten future peace and security.

Input from technical experts is essential to keep those who set the agenda from putting all the attention on a narrow set of current hot spots and missing opportunities to prevent future hubs of terrorism from emerging.