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New York, 27 June 2012


Your Excellency, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Your Excellency, Mr. John Baird, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to this debate on Dialogue, Understanding and Countering the Appeal of Terrorism.

I am honoured to chair this meeting, and would like to extend my gratitude to the eminent speakers and high level representatives, who are joining us here today to deliberate on this important issue.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to, the UN Inter-regional Crime and Justice Research Institute, (UNICRI) and the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, (CTITF), who have been instrumental in organizing this event. Their work has been key in our efforts to identify and apply concrete steps towards countering the appeal of terrorism.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are holding this debate at a critical time.

The third review of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy will be underway tomorrow, and we have the opportunity to push forward the agenda on dialogue, understanding and countering the appeal of terrorism. 

We must use this time to analyse and understand:

  • One: the conditions that are conducive to the spread of terrorism,
  • Two: the steps we need to take, and
  • Three:  how these steps can be implemented.

We need also to reflect critically on the policies and measures that can promote dialogue and understanding.

This high level debate reaffirms that the subject of dialogue, understanding and countering the appeal of terrorism, continues to play a central role within the counter-terrorism strategy.

Today’s debate will cover two thematic areas:

First, the morning session focuses on the theme of:  “Countering the appeal of terrorism, disengagement and rehabilitation programmes.”

Countering the appeal of terrorism has emerged as a priority.

It has become clear that security, law enforcement and judicial measures alone are not enough to combat the spread of terrorism and prevent the radicalization of segments of the population, particularly the youth.

To counter the appeal of terrorism effectively we must implement practical and sustainable measures that are customized to local and regional conditions.

We cannot have a, “one size fits all” approach.

We need to develop a better and deeper understanding of how to combat in-tolerance, ideological factors, social marginalization and the discrimination of minority communities. These are some of the factors that lead to radicalization. And by considering them we can be in a better position to identify the best policies for addressing these challenges successfully.

We must also address the related issues of de-radicalization, re-habilitation in prison settings, and efforts to defeat violent extremism.

Secondly, this afternoon’s session will cover the field of dialogue and understanding.

By promoting dialogue, tolerance and understanding among civilizations, cultures, peoples and religions, we can help promote the mutual respect of all.  We can also take essential steps to ensure that we foster more open and inclusive societies.

In this way, we can succeed by using obligations under national and international laws to prohibit and prevent incitement to commit terrorist acts.  We must also work to effectively combat the defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred.

Through appropriate education and the necessary political will, we can remove the conditions that are conducive to the spread of terrorism.

We should also make progress by exchanging best practices in enhancing dialogue, in order to combat violent extremism. 

We should draw lessons from successful educational programmes so we can become more conversant with the challenges of countering the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes. In these efforts, we must always listen to voices of the victims.

At this point, let me mention the important role of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

Since its inception in 2005, the Alliance has been contributing, through its various activities and projects, to enhancing dialogue and mutual understanding among people from different cultures and identities.

These activities are having a major impact on many societies, and particularly on the youth. Therefore, there is a need to further strengthen the Alliance, so that it becomes better equipped to address these issues.

As part of my commitment in this regard, I convened a one-day thematic debate of the General Assembly in March this year.

During this debate, we thoroughly discussed with all relevant stakeholders the challenges that we face in fostering cross-cultural understanding and dialogue.

The summary of this debate has been brought to the attention of the whole UN Membership.

The next steps we take are important, in guiding us forward and for influencing the next generation.

We have an opportunity to defeat the extremist narrative, and we can stop the violence and bloodshed that often result from such extremism.

This debate is important in showing us how we can achieve this objective.

I wish you all a truly productive meeting.

Thank you.