Otabek Rashidov, Programme Officer, Action Against Terrorism Unit ( OSCE / Justyna Werner )

My current position is a Programme Officer with the Action against Terrorism Unit of the Transnational Threats Department (TNTD/ATU). I am responsible for the design and implementation of capacity-building activities as well as the overall co-ordination of the OSCE activities in Countering the Use of Internet for Terrorist Purposes At TNTD, we have several thematic areas which are cross-cutting in nature. Interestingly, my portfolio also cuts across my practical work experience with law enforcement, international organizations, as well as my degrees.

I joined the OSCE Secretariat in 2018 after working for seven years with the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan, addressing issues such as illicit drug circulation, terrorism, and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In Tashkent, I was also in charge of implementing projects for the improvement of training systems for law enforcement bodies, border security and cyber security. Before joining the Organization, I worked for six years as Political/Security Adviser to Japan’s International Co-operation Agency office in Tashkent after spending about ten years with the law enforcement agencies of Uzbekistan.

As to the reasoning behind my joining the OSCE, I believe, this decision had been shaped for a number of years given my experiences with law enforcement and international development organizations. I think any individual, at some stage of his or her professional career, comes to the point when he or she wants to do concrete and real things to the world.  At the OSCE, I feel that I am making a difference with my work. 

While the Internet has had tremendous positive effects in our lives, tech-savvy terrorists are increasingly using communication technologies to fundraise, intimidate, train, radicalize, recruit and incite others to commit violent extremist and terrorist acts. Recent gruesome terrorist attacks showed how the design of online platforms can create and reinforce violent extremist beliefs. Confronted by political pressures, some countries call for social media providers to ramp up content removal and account deletion efforts against those who espouse violent extremism. Though the logic of this line of reasoning is fully understood, this approach runs the risk of resulting in regulatory frameworks which are technically unfeasible and unworkable, or in conflict with fundamental rights and freedoms.

My professional experience and understanding of contemporary online technological dynamics help me to develop and render comprehensive approaches in supporting OSCE participating states to improve the efficiency of their national efforts to deal with terrorists’ exploitation of the Internet. A guiding principle for addressing and finding such solutions needs to be anchored in the OSCE participating States’ commitments to uphold human rights, in particular the right to privacy, freedom of religion and belief, and freedom of expression, enshrined in various OSCE consensus documents. Here is a short video “Countering the Use of the Internet for terrorist purposes: Effective Responses” which I put together about this topic: https://youtu.be/jCaTL9x7lDg

From my point of view, the major advantage of the OSCE is that it offers platforms to share best practices and knowledge to facilitate international peace and security. Of course, there is no universal instrument or a so-called “silver-bullet” that would fit all countries across the board to a particular challenge. Each OSCE region, each country represents a particular context, conditioned by historical, cultural and socio-economic aspects. Methodologies and approaches that have successfully proven themselves in, say, Albania, may not work in Uzbekistan and vice versa. At the same time, OSCE is a unique place that can present “success stories” from one part of the world to other participating States for them to see if the approach that worked in one place could be used in other context afters necessary adaptations and localizations. This does not only allow us to achieve set goals and objectives with a high degree of efficiency in the implementation of programmes, but also provides us with the opportunity to make the best use of limited financial and human resources, which is also increasingly important today.

Be always open to new challenges and be ready for lifelong learning. Take these two things with you for your journey and you will succeed.