posted on Tue 20 Oct 2015 4:47 PM
Arria-Formula Meeting on Victims of Terrorism

Tomorrow morning (21 October), Spain and the US are cohosting an open Arria-formula meeting on victims of terrorism and their role in countering violent extremism.
The Foreign Minister of Spain, José Manuel García-Margallo; Spain’s Interior Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz and US Ambassador Samantha Power are expected to make introductory remarks. Presentations are anticipated from: Javier Lesaca, visiting fellow at George Washington University; Maria del Mar Blanco, a victim of the Basque terrorist organisation, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna or ETA; Pari Ibrahim, a victim of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham; and Saudatu Mahdi, a representative from the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign. The meeting is expected to include a short video presented by Leon Shahabian, President of Layalina Productions Inc., a Washington, DC based non-profit media organisation that seeks to bridge the gap between the US and the Arab world.

Spain and the US circulated a concept note in preparation for the meeting that underlines “the important role that victims of terrorism can play in building an effective counter narrative that serves to delegitimize terrorism, counter terrorist propaganda and ultimately help to counter violent extremism that seek to oppose the values of a pluralist and tolerant society”. It notes that, on the one hand, terrorist groups exploit victims to socialise terror and attract and recruit followers through the use of victims in social media. On the other hand, the note highlights how recognition of the suffering of victims of terrorism can establish alternative narratives that positively contribute to countering violent extremism.

The issue of victims of terrorism has previously been addressed by the Council, including with the adoption of resolution 1566 on 8 October 2004, which established an ad-hoc working group to explore, among other things, the possibility of setting up a compensation fund for victims of terrorist acts and their families. However, a 16 December 2005 report of the 1566 Working Group noted that “owing to various reasons, the resolution of questions about establishment of a compensation fund for victims of terrorist acts at the international level was premature.” The lack of a commonly agreed definition of terrorism and lack of political will to tackle the compensation of victims have de facto rendered the 1566 Working Group dormant.

Most discussions providing for the interaction of Council members with victims take place in Arria-formula meetings. The participation of victims, whether of armed conflicts or terrorist acts, has been increasingly common in formal Council meetings when discussing thematic issues (protection of civilians, children and armed conflict or sexual violence in conflict, among others), but it is not a frequent practice in country-specific cases.