Engagement with communities can help address factors underlying violent extremism – UN chief

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Mark Garten (file)

13 February 2016 – Fully understanding those who might be susceptible to poisonous ideologies – addressing root causes of radicalization and helping individuals and communities before problems escalate – will assist the international community in developing effective, dignified and rights-based responses to “one of the gravest threats our world faces,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

“We must understand what motivates those we suspect are vulnerable to narratives promoting violent extremism and deepen our knowledge of the conditions that lead to their vulnerability,” said Mr. Ban in Montréal, Canada, during a visit at the Centre for Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence, which he praised for its “compassionate and effective.”

“The focus on preventing violent extremism is critical. This is one of the gravest threats in our world today – and it demands innovative, effective and dignified responses,” said the UN chief, reiterating his interest in the Centre's approach, which he said focused on helping individuals and families before the problems escalate.

Noting that he has made the prevention of violent extremism a new priority for the UN, the Secretary-General recalled that he presented a new Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism last month to the General Assembly that stresses the importance of addressing the drivers of violent extremism.

“The Plan proposes an 'All-of-Government' and 'All-of-Society approach,' he said, emphasizing: “We must break down the silos between the peace and security, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian actors at all levels – including at the United Nations.”

Mr. Ban also urged engaging all sectors of society – religious leaders, women leaders, youth groups, leaders in the arts, music and sports, as well as the media and private sector.

“Understanding these phenomena is not the same as justifying them – and it allows us to develop effective preventive responses,” he stressed, adding that: “When we engage directly with communities, we can greatly contribute to addressing the underlying causes of violent extremism that can lead to terrorism.”

The UN chief also noted that local initiatives can rebuild trust between governments and communities. “You can help promote human rights and heal broken societies,” he told those gathered at the Centre, underscoring that: “When we put human rights at the centre of our response to violent extremism, we can succeed in opening a safer and more stable future for all.”

“Your local efforts are helping us to forge a global response that tackles the problems we face in a principled, participatory and comprehensive manner. These strong partnerships will generate success,” the Secretary-general concluded.


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