CTED and Tony Blair Faith Foundation urge greater emphasis on education in counter-terrorism strategies
International experts meeting at the United Nations agreed Thursday on the need to promote a more prominent role for education in countering terrorism and violent extremism.
The experts reached their conclusions at a roundtable organized by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation at United Nations Headquarters, New York, on 24 July. The discussions included both the expert roundtable and a joint meeting with Member States of the United Nations Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee. All participants pledged to work together to find ways to strengthen the potential of education in countering violent extremism.
"It is clear that education is essential to the dialogue that takes place among young people. The values they learn in school will have a direct impact on the choices they make in later life", said CTED Executive Director Jean-Paul Laborde.
The discussions were held in follow-up to an address made by Mr. Blair to the Committee in November last year, in which he called on Governments to develop long-term and sustainable policies to foster attitudinal change among future generations, to uproot extremist thinking, and to take seriously their responsibility to instil into the minds of young people acceptance of, and respect for, other cultures.
Mr. Blair said, "Religiously motivated extremism is one of the most profound global challenges we face and I am delighted that we are able to work with CTED on finding ways to tackle it."
"We need to equip young people with the knowledge and skills to resist extremists' messages and ensure that our education systems teach children to recognize the positive effects our connected world can have."
Foundation CEO Charlotte Keenan said, "As the pace of globalization and technological change accelerates, young people are exposed to a variety of opinions, beliefs and cultures like never before. Extremists are using this change to their advantage, finding ever more creative ways to spread their message and promote violence. This is why we need to start thinking of education as a security issue."
The experts discussed educational programmes that promote intercultural understanding and tolerance and ways to promote more active engagement by States, as well as the risk that educational institutions might be "subverted" by terrorists and their supporters.
The Committee and CTED are working together with the Foundation within the framework of Security Council resolution 1624 (2005), which calls on Member States to take all necessary steps to counter incitement motivated by extremism and intolerance and to prevent the subversion of educational, cultural and religious institutions by terrorists and their supporters.
The Foundation believes that education remains by far the most powerful tool to fight extremism. It works to provide the practical support required to prevent religious prejudice, conflict and extremism with a view to promoting the establishment of an open-minded and stable society.
CTED and the Foundation are committed to identifying practical ways in which States' educational policies can contribute to intercultural and interfaith understanding and help prevent the spread of terrorist ideologies and narratives.