Andrés Pastrana participated in this forum as Club de Madrid Member and was joined by Lord John Alderdice, one of the main high level experts that took part in the Club de Madrid latest policy dialogue, Madrid+10, Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism. Mr Pastrana delivered his speech in in front of a room full of youth organizations, students and activists and underlined that the radicals can't win over new recruits if they are perceived as weak, immoral, or without a “real” purpose. Thus, their momentum must be broken through both the military and ideological war'. From his perspective changing the narrative of groups such as ISIS "could be possible with the involvement and direct engagement of youth, local communities, religious and social leaders'. However he warned against the "one size fits all" approach: ''we need to work on a tailor made approach for the different communities. Not every approach can work in any community. It is important to understand why violent extremism multiply and thrive in a specific community or area, and develop relevant sustainable solutions'
The former President of Colombia and Club de Madrid Member, also referred to his experience in the fight against terrorism in his own country and stressed the importance of the role of drugs in financing extremist and insurgency groups in Africa and the Middle East. Read bellow Pastrana's full intervention
Andrés Pastrana speech at the Strasbourg World Forum for Democracy // 'Freedom vs Control: for a democratic response'
“Madrid+10: Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism”
Background – 2005 “International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security”:
In 2005 the Club de Madrid organized the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security with the participation of 32 official country delegations, over 30 former Heads of State and Government and nearly 900 experts, scholars and representatives of civil society, marking the one year anniversary of the Atocha terrorist attacks in Madrid.
The outcome of this international summit was the Madrid Agenda, a set of principles and recommendations for strengthening international cooperation against terrorism in all of its forms through democratic means.
2015 Policy Dialogue “Madrid+10 Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism”:
Ten years on, the narrative that was discussed in 2005 is no longer the same in 2015. Different parts of the world are confronted with the disquieting escalation of radicalism and violent extremism.
Following the calling of its Members, the Club of Madrid - today, with more than 100 Members all democratically elected, experienced former Presidents and Prime Ministers - and the International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR), established at King’s College in London as a result of the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security of 2005, joined forces in partnership with international institutions and organizations – and set out to work on a new “Global Consensus” framework to address and frame today’s struggle against this seemingly intractable challenge of radicalization and violent extremism.
The aim of this initiative is to mobilize policymakers, opinion formers, civil society and grassroots organizations around the concept of preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalization, sustain commitment, increase public engagement and promote grassroots initiatives.
It is important to highlight, that it will not be possible to win the war against extremists without a soft power strategy. Such strategy requires approaching this ideological fight with the same energy and dedication we put into the military one.
Breaking extremists’ sources of financing and limiting their territory is important. However, the physiological side of the war has to be addressed too. The narrative is critical to extremist groups, they base their existence on creating and promoting such narrative and they use it to recruit and convince others to join them. They can’t win over new recruits if they are perceived as weak, immoral, or without a “real” purpose. Thus, their momentum must be broken through both the military and ideological war.
In order to effectively implement a soft power strategy, the governments have to make efforts and invest additional resources – financial and human - on engaging local actors. They have the capacity to do it, and it will need to be a priority. Changing the narrative of groups such as ISIS could be possible with the involvement and direct engagement of youth, local communities, religious and social leaders, schools and universities, families, etc.
The most recent attacks on Ankara (10 of October) the bomb on the rusian airplane in Egypt(31 of October) on Beirut (12 of November) and Paris (13 of November) not to mention the daily violent attacks in both Syria ans Iraq, are clear examples on the complexity of the situation and the importance of having a unified response and narrative beyond the military approach. The threat of groups such as ISIS highlights that while military action, border security, intelligence collection, and police work are critical parts of a comprehensive counterterrorism approach, they alone are insufficient. Using force in eliminating extremists groups will not guarantee that others will not emerge. People who turn to violent extremism do not exist in a vacuum, they are members of the community, yet they are attracted by extremist and terrorists groups despite all security measures and legal implication.
What narrative of grievances are the extremist groups using to appeal to the different individuals? We need to work on a tailor made approach for the different communities, as in this case, one size does not fit all. Not every approach can work in any community. It is important to understand why violent extremism multiply and thrive in a specific community or area, and develop relevant sustainable solutions.
Let me talk now about my experience in this issue as President of Colombia between 1998-2002.
Today, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa are experiencing a very serious problem: young individuals leave Europe to join the Jihadist terrorist networks that operate in Syria, Iraq and other areas of the Middle East.
As President of Colombia I faced a similar phenomena – While negotiating with the FARC and the ELN for a durable and just peace, I also had to make sure that the state would ensure a dignified and honourable life to young individuals in Colombia. This would prevent them from joining the guerrillas fighting in the forests and in the towns of my country.
My project for this task, which I called Plan Colombia, consisted of three pillars:
A military/security dimension to fight the insurgents.
An Institutional dimension aimed at strengthening state institutions.
A social and economic dimension at providing livelihoods and dignity to all inhabitants of Colombia.
A key component of the Plan Colombia involved fighting the drug-trafficking, which lay at the heart of the FARC’s success. Money from drug-trafficking had reinforced the insurgents to an unprecedented extent. They earned:
- Today Colombia produces 450 tons of cocaine a year acording to the US goverment.
- Price on the streets is between 30 to 50 billion dolars.
- One to Two millions of dolars a day.
I therefore devoted great efforts to curb the illicit production and trafficking of drugs.
- This involved shared responsibilities with the consuming countries (Co-responsibility) Colombia produces but the US and Europe are the consumers.
- UK today is per capita the large consumer of Cocaine follow by Spain.
- Create special program to eradicate coca crops with alternative development programs (Palm Oli and now Cocoa) when I start my government we had 120.000 hectares of coca and I finish with 60.000.
Although during my Presidency we did not succeed in negotiating a peaceful outcome to this conflict, after 3 years of negotiations, we did make some astonishing progress. What were the achievements?
- We managed to build professional and very well-trained Armed Forces, strictly under civilian control, who managed to fight the insurgency without committing gross violations of human rights.
- We succeeded in strengthening state institutions, and to expand the presence of the state throughout the entire territory of Colombia. (Weak state institutions had facilitated the emergence of illegal paramilitaries and the production of illegal crops)
- We made significant investments in the social sphere, we increased government effectiveness and institution’s transparency, by fighting corruption. We carefully monitored government expenditure, through national and international mechanism.
We addressed the problem of drugs-trafficking, which was funding the Farc and ELN insurgencies, as well as the paramilitaries. There where two tools that where very efective in this fight:
- Extradition to the US of the leaders of the cartels. In 4 years I extradite more 140 leaders or bosses of the Cartels.
- Develope a very effective software to go after the resources of the cartel.
I want to draw your attention on this last point – I did it in 2000 in my speech to the European Parliament.
- The role of drugs in financing extremist and insurgency groups in Africa and the Middle East – the role of narcotics, in this respect, is only increasing.
- Much of the focus of the financing of groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda has centred on kidnapping, extortion, oil sales, antiques sales and smuggling. But little attention has been paid to the role of drugs, and in particular that of cocaine in funding groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.
- The drugs travel from Latin America, to Europe through West and North Africa.
- Common enemy that is Narcoterrorism
- Unite all our efforts.
Thank you very much
President of Colombia (1998-2002) and Club de Madrid Member