General Assembly Decides to Take More Time in Considering Secretary-General’s Proposed Action Plan for Preventing Violent Extremism
General Assembly Decides to Take More Time in Considering Secretary-General’s Proposed Action Plan for Preventing Violent Extremism
Differing Views Emerge over Details as Delegations Acknowledge Imperative of International Cooperation in Tackling Rising Phenomenon
The General Assembly decided today that it would devote more time to examining the Secretary-General’s proposed plan of action to prevent violent extremism, as diverging views emerged on some key details.
Adopting a procedural draft resolution, the 193-nation Assembly welcomed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s initiative but decided to “give further consideration” to the plan, including in other relevant forums, such as the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy review in June 2016.
Tabled in December 2015, the proposed action plan recommended that each Member State develop its own national action plan to prevent violent extremism, with a focus on seven priority areas: dialogue and conflict prevention; strengthening good governance; human rights and the rule of law; engaging communities; empowering youth; gender equality and empowering women; education, skill development and employment facilitation; and strategic communications, including through the Internet and social media.
The proposed action plan received mix reviews during today’s debate. While some delegates agreed on the need to prevent violent extremism, others felt the proposal lacked a deeper and broader look into the root causes of radicalization.
In his opening remarks, General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) said violent extremism was on the rise across the world, and the pain, fear and destruction it caused presented real and difficult challenges for all Member States. In that regard, confronting and preventing the phenomenon was fundamental to protecting all societies and people, he emphasized.
Norway’s representative said poverty was not the sole cause of extremism, pointing out that marginalization was also a contributing factor. The international community must address both “push” and “pull” factors, he added, emphasizing the need for a strong, well-resourced United Nations that was “fit for purpose”.
The United Kingdom’s representative welcomed today’s Assembly decision, stressing that all Member States had spoken in one voice, united against violent extremism and in solidarity with its victims. The plan was pragmatic and comprehensive and contained a recommendation to develop robust national action plans.
Austria’s representative also said the proposed plan was balanced and comprehensive. Implementing it would be the responsibility of each Member State, and Austria had already put such a plan in place, he said, urging other Governments to follow suit.
Saudi Arabia’s representative, speaking for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), emphasized the need to address the root causes of violent extremism, including the historical injustices of colonialism, foreign occupation and denial of self-determination, stressing that it could not be defeated by military actions alone.
For India, the proposed plan was full of prescriptions for Member States, but short on what the United Nations would do to help Governments, that country’s representative noted, adding that it offered no single contact point for assisting them. Addressing the phenomenon was the primary responsibility of Member States, but it was a global contagion, requiring international cooperation to address it.
The representative of Bangladesh noted that the proposed plan of action touched on issues of foreign occupation, protracted conflict and systematic human rights abuses, but shied away from naming particular examples. It focused instead on local drivers of extremism while demonstrating little understanding of major international trends, including illicit financial flows.
Turing to the human rights front, Pakistan’s representative expressed regret that negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination and intolerance had been ignored or given little consideration. Additionally, xenophobia, in particular Islamophobia, was rising in the West and had gone unchecked so far.
In other business today, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution by which it took note of the Economic and Social Council’s endorsement of the recommendation by the Committee for Development Policy that Angola be graduated from the least developed country category. It also decided to give Angola an additional two years, on an exceptional basis, before the start of the three-year preparatory period leading to graduation.
Angola’s representative expressed his Government’s commitment to the graduation process, but stressed that it should not disrupt the growth of the country’s commodity-dependent economy, which was currently undergoing a difficult period.
The Assembly also reappointed Jorge Flores Callejas (Honduras) as a member of the Joint Inspection Unit for another five-year term, ending on 31 December 2021.
Also speaking today were representatives of Latvia, Australia, United States, France, China, Switzerland, Russian Federation, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Finland, Turkey, Netherlands, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Greece, Brazil, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Nicaragua, Kenya, Japan, Armenia, Iraq, Indonesia, Syria, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Canada, Maldives, Ethiopia, Panama, Croatia, New Zealand, Tajikistan, Botswana, Ukraine, Venezuela, Myanmar, Philippines, Mexico, Argentina, Tunisia and Senegal, as well as the European Union.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 16 February, to continue its general debate on the proposed plan of action to prevent violent extremism.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
PILANYA NIYOMTHAI (Thailand) introduced draft resolution A/70/L.31, by which the General Assembly would take note of the Economic and Social Council’s endorsement of the recommendation by the Committee for Development Policy that Angola be graduated from the least developed country category. It would also decide to provide Angola, on an exceptional basis, with an additional two years before the start of the three-year preparatory period leading to graduation.
Further by that text, the Assembly would invite Angola to prepare, during the five-year period between the adoption of the present resolution and its graduation from the least developed country category, its national smooth-transition strategy, with the support of the United Nations system and in cooperation with its bilateral, regional and multilateral development and trading partners.
Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) expressed his Government’s commitment to the graduation process, but stressed that it should not disrupt the growth of the country’s commodity-dependent economy, which was currently undergoing a difficult period.
Reappointment to Joint Inspection Unit
The Assembly then reappointed Jorge Flores Callejas (Honduras) as a member of the Joint Inspection Unit for another five-year term, ending on 31 December 2021.
Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy
The Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/70/L.41, by which it welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposed plan of action to prevent violent extremism, but decided to give it further consideration, beginning with the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy review in June 2016 as well as other relevant forums.
MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, said violent extremism was on the rise across the world, and the pain, fear and destruction it caused presented real and difficult challenges for all Member States. In that regard, confronting and preventing the phenomenon was fundamental to protecting all societies and people. To be truly effective, the international community’s approach must remain faithful to common values of humanity, and it must secure peace and security in a manner that was respectful of human rights and the rule of law, he emphasized.
JOÃO PEDRO VALE DE ALMEIDA, European Union delegation, said that in order to prevent violent extremism, it was key to promote good governance, including through security sector reform, to tackle political, social and economic exclusion, and to promote human rights and provide opportunities for all. For its part, the Union had actively participated in the Global Counterterrorism Forum and Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund as well as strongly supported the resolution before the Assembly.
AGNESE VILDE (Latvia), expressing concern about the threat posed by violent extremism, stressed the need to address such phenomenon through collective action. Expressing her delegation’s support to the plan of action, she noted that the resolution presented an opportunity to address violent extremism in all its forms and wherever it occurred. In addition, she underscored the importance of identifying actions that could be taken at the global, national and regional levels.
ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that violent extremism and terrorism undermined peace and no country was immune. While there was no agreed definition of violent extremism, it was important to pay close attention to the issue and address it in a balanced manner, considering local and global contexts and with full respect for the United Nations Charter. Violent extremism could not be defeated by military actions alone, he said, stressing the need to address its root causes, including the historical injustices of colonialism and denial of self-determination.
CAITLIN WILSON (Australia) said her country’s Government was tackling the problem through early interventions. It had held a regional summit on the issue last year, and supported the development of both national and international plans that would help to build capacity. Violent extremism was a threat to peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development, she said, adding that Australia looked forward to engaging further in discussions on the matter.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said the resolution’s adoption sent a strong message that the United Nations was united against threats of violent extremism, which undermined security around the world. However, defeating terrorism on the battlefield was not enough unless the international community addressed the fundamental drives of such extremist actions.
ALEXIS LAMEK (France), underlining the need to coordinate efforts at the national, regional and international levels, said his country had focused on developing and undertaking measures to prevent violent extremism as a national priority. France had established a hotline for families and counter propaganda websites to raise awareness of violent extremism, and blocked websites promoting terrorism, he said.
PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, said he was heartened that the Assembly had taken up the topic, adding that the plan of action was balanced and comprehensive. Implementing it would be the responsibility of each Member State and stakeholder. The Government of Austria had put in place a number of measures, focusing on social inclusion, gender equality and broad consultations with civil society, he said, urging other States to develop national plans for the prevention of violent extremism.
LIU JIEYI (China) said that terrorist groups, such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), were tightly knit organizations that were developing international networks. ISIL and Boko Haram were remotely coordinating actions and scaling their technologies to finance activities and recruit youth. Noting that terrorism and regional hotspots were interlinked, he stressed the need to give full play to the United Nations. Member States must adhere to unified standards and avoid double standards. They must pay close attention to terrorist groups using social media and the Internet, he said, adding that regulation of such media was necessary.
JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland) said the plan of action demonstrated that only a multidisciplinary and preventative approach was suitable for efficient, legitimate and sustainable action against violent extremism. Switzerland recognized in that regard the importance of working to prevent the phenomenon at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels, in particular with Governments, international organizations, civil society, armed groups and the private sector.
EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) said the primary responsibility for fighting terrorism lay with individual nation-States and should be based on international law and the United Nations Charter. Emphasizing that a “one-size-fits-all” approach was not effective in preventing violent extremism, he stressed the crucial importance of investing in educating young people and cooperating with civil society organizations and religious communities.
OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) said his Government had taken concrete actions to combat violent extremism, including a measure to abolish a domestic sectarian polarization. Emphasizing that violent extremism should not be associated with any specific culture, religion, or region, he said the Secretary-General’s plan of action to Prevent Violent Extremism focused more on national and regional rather than global aspects. Furthermore, it did not clearly examine the major root causes of violent extremism, such as foreign occupation and Islamophobia, he said, emphasizing that Israel’s occupation of Palestine was a cause for the spread of violent extremism. The plan of Action should take the differing views of States into account, he added.
AMJAD MOHAMMAD SALEH AL-MOUMANI (Jordan) said the plan of action was practical and prudent, and would serve as an important guideline for States to develop their own national plans. National interactions were crucial and must cover social, economic and political contexts, he said, noting that the King of Jordan had initiated numerous efforts to bolster tolerance, including the promotion of World Harmony Week and convening an open Security Council meeting on the role of youth in the struggle against terrorism in April 2015. The Israel-Palestinian conflict and the crisis in Syria must be resolved promptly because they helped to spread violent extremism, he said.
FADUL MOHAMED (Sudan) said that violent extremism was not exclusive to any region, nationality or system of belief. It was important to address the root causes of violent extremism through a comprehensive and balanced approach, taking into account all social, cultural and religious concerns. Stressing that his delegation had participated in informal consultations prior to the preparation of the draft resolution, he expressed concern about the plan, which lacked balance, focusing too much on national aspects and human rights violations without addressing other dimensions.
MARJA LEHTO (Finland) stressed the need to send a clear, unified signal that violent extremism was unacceptable and taken seriously by the international community. Greater cooperation with more emphasis on prevention was needed. The Secretary-General’s action plan was important and should be endorsed and implemented promptly. Finland was updating its own comprehensive, inclusive plan to prevent violent extremism launched in 2012 and involving broad cooperation among different authorities, organizations and communities. The plan’s “Net Tip” system enabled the public to submit non-emergency information to law enforcement about suspicious material found on the Internet. A national helpline service would be set up to aid families whose relatives were planning to leave for conflict areas or had done so already. Teams of police officers, social workers, youth workers and mental health professionals worked with vulnerable people at risk of committing crimes. In October, the Government and the Youth Muslims’ Association organized a round table on Finnish foreign policy regarding conflict areas, human rights and democracy. Religious communities in the country were creating a “shoulder to shoulder” approach to support each other against hate crimes. Women’s empowerment and full participation in decision-making were essential in preventing violent extremism.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said that Member States had spoken in one voice, united against violent extremism and united in solidarity with their victims. The plan was pragmatic and comprehensive and contained a recommendation to develop robust national action plans based on respect for human rights and rule of law. For its part, his Government focused on forging partnerships because violent extremism was too complex for any single body to solve. Every Member State had unique circumstances and approaches and must share best practices. Today was a beginning. Differing views were expressed, but debate was healthy, and a Geneva conference in April would represent an opportunity for further dialogue. It was imperative to not just counter violent extremism but prevent it.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, said the lack of clarity on an agreed definition of “terrorism” and “violent extremism” warranted greater analysis. Injustices done to peoples under foreign occupation, denial of the right to self-determination, long-festering and unresolved international disputes, interference in the internal affairs of States and the continued violation of Charter principles created conditions that were exploited by violent extremists. It was key the United Nations address those issues. On the human rights-based approach to preventing violent extremism, she regretted that a number of significant elements — including negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination and intolerance — had been ignored or given little consideration. In addition, xenophobia, in particular Islamophobia, was on the rise in the West, and had so far gone unchecked while unprincipled politicians built their political fortunes by spreading fear and the deliberate mischaracterization of people of other faiths or cultures.
LEVENT ELER (Turkey) said the international community must adopt a comprehensive approach encompassing security-based counter-terrorism measures and systemic steps against violent extremism. Describing the Secretary-General’s plan of action as an important reference document, he said that, as a Co-Chair of the Global Counter-terrorism Forum, Turkey worked to combat violent extremism, as did the Hedayah Centre within the country. Together with the United States and within the Forum, Turkey was co-leading an initiative to address radicalization, he said, stressing, however, that radicalized violence was not limited to a specific ideology or belief system, and could not be associated with any one country, religion or culture. Rising intolerance, discrimination and stigmatization based on faith and ethnicity was a trend that further marginalized and alienated people, creating fertile ground for terrorist groups to exploit, he said, calling for a resolute stance to end that vicious cycle.
PAUL ALEX MENKVELD (Netherlands), associating himself with the European Union, said international cooperation was the key to preventing violent extremism, adding that countries must look beyond national borders and “stay ahead of the curve”. The Government of the Netherlands had reached out to partners in order to build capacities and share best practices, he said, noting that, with Turkey, it co-chaired the Global Counter-terrorism Forum, an important multilateral platform that worked closely with the relevant United Nations agencies. The Government focused on tackling the root causes of radicalization and was in intensive and long-lasting contact with community and religious leaders, police officers, teachers and social workers who worked with youngsters every day, he said.
AMIT HEUMANN (Israel) said that, while poverty, unemployment and marginalization were factors driving people to become terrorists, “we must not delude ourselves” — the real and most basic threat was extremist ideology itself. Countering incitement and radicalization were among the most effective tools available, he said, emphasizing the need to promote education that taught peace instead of hate, tolerance instead of violence and mutual understanding instead of martyrdom. In Israel, the threat of terrorism was “all too real”. The country was working to counter both terrorism and violent extremism, supporting organizations that built bridges between citizens of different faiths and beliefs. There could be no excuses for terror, he said, noting that some Member States sought to infuse politicization into the present discussion. “Background noise must not be allowed to hijack this important topic,” he said in that regard.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) agreed with other speakers that conflicts, civil wars and human rights abuses drove people towards extremism. In addition, the proxy war that some countries were waging to achieve their despicable plans further aggravated the situation, which required the international community to work together to help countries resolve their differences and halt the threat of extremism. The Secretary-General’s proposed plan of action needed to address other factors that propelled extremism, notably foreign occupation and State terrorism, she emphasized. It must also address the issue of accountability on the part of States that compromised the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States. The United Arab Emirates had passed a number of laws to address the issue of extremism in accordance with the rule of law, by ensuring the inclusion of local communities and by countering hate narratives. The proposed plan of action should be evaluated and approved during the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy review in June, she said.
NAFSIKA NANCY EVA VRAILA (Greece) said violent extremism was a continuously evolving global threat, and the international community needed a holistic, firm, multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach that would focus on conditions that were conducive to the spread of extremist ideologies. Underlining the need to focus on education, she said it would promote open-mindedness and tolerance as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law. Women and girls were frequent targets of radical ideologies and terrorism, she noted, stressing that empowering women could be instrumental in implementing anti-radicalization policies.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) agreed with the Secretary-General’s assessment that combining the concepts of terrorism and violent extremism could lead to an overly broad application of counter-terrorism measures. In the absence of a precise definition of violent extremism and its relationship with terrorism, it was essential to guard against human rights violations that could result from that legal gap. The United Nations should be more efficient in helping to prevent violent extremism. Promoting inclusiveness required State outreach to the most fragile, vulnerable or remote communities, providing them access to justice and basic services. Fighting exclusion was essential, but to combat violent extremism, Member States must also aid refugees. While acting against hate incitement and terrorist recruitment on the Internet, it was vital to guard against transgressions of the freedom of expression and the right to privacy. The dissemination of violent extremism could not be disassociated with the collective failure in addressing ongoing crises in the Middle East, especially the Israel-Palestine conflict. The strategy to prevent violent extremism must include a call for efforts to bring peace to conflict that directly or indirectly fuelled terrorist agendas.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) stressed the need to address violent extremism with the best tools rather than attempting to “enter into the divisive minefield” of offering a definition of it. The link between security and development as a central tenet of the approach set forth in the Secretary-General’s plan to address violent extremism was understandable. However, despite the plan being full of prescriptions for Member States, it was short on what the United Nations would do to help Governments. Member States were primarily responsible for addressing the malaise. The problem was not local; it was a global contagion. Global links, franchise relations, home-grown terrorism and the use of cyberspace for recruitment and propaganda presented a new level of threat, and international cooperation was needed to address that. The current United Nations architecture was not sufficient to address the problem. The action plan offered no solution to that shortcoming; it offered no single contact point to assist Member States seeking the Organization’s help to prevent violent extremism.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said violent extremism was one of the consequences of economic and financial crisis, lack of good governance and absence of the rule of law. To address it, the international community must work together to prevent its escalation and share good practices. For its part, Morocco had undertaken a number of policies, including the training of religious leaders and the reintegration of foreign fighters, he said.
BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) expressed fears that the impact of terrorist groups could potentially spread from the Middle East to Central Asia. It was therefore necessary to mobilize such regional structures as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, he said, emphasizing that closer coordination with INTERPOL was an absolute necessity. The President of Kazakhstan had proposed the establishment of a United Nations-led counter-terrorism coalition or network with a unified mechanism to defeat that violent extremism and bring perpetrators and their supporters to justice. Such an entity would consolidate all existing United Nations structures into a well-coordinated global effort, he said.
ANA SILVIA RODRIGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) said the United Nations Global Terrorism Strategy represented a “milestone” in international efforts against the scourge of terrorism. Cuba had for decades suffered the consequences of terrorist acts, organized outside the country, which had resulted in more than 3,400 deaths. The international community should not accept that States commit acts of aggression or interfere in the affairs of other countries under the pretext of combating terrorism. She condemned double standards and unilateral action, stressing that respect for international law, the promotion of social justice, equity and inclusion, as well as solidarity among peoples and the right to development, were inalienable goals. Meanwhile, opulence and selfishness stoked the flames of hatred. Cuba enjoyed religious freedom and social protection, which were aimed at eradicating the conditions conducive to radical extremism. Eradicating terrorism meant that all States must deliver on their international obligations, including the extradition of perpetrators of terrorist acts.
ALINA JULIA ARGÜELLO GONZÁLEZ (Nicaragua) recalled that the delegation of Iran had in 2013 proposed the text of General Assembly resolution A/68/127, known as “A World Against Violent Extremism”, which had then been endorsed by the Non-Aligned Movement. She rejected and condemned all terrorist acts, regardless of their perpetrators or their motivation. Global capitalism promoted terror and violence, and the international community needed to fight for a fair society where no one felt excluded. The situation would worsen if the causes of such anxiety and brutality were not addressed.
KOKI MULI GRIGNON (Kenya) reaffirmed her country’s commitment to multilateralism and a rule-based international system. The Assembly was the only forum with the legitimacy and universality to address violent extremism and should take a more leading role in addressing that threat. The Secretary-General’s action plan complemented existing national strategies and initiatives to address violent extremism. The recommendations in it would help enhance coordination of programmes and other activities aimed at preventing violent extremism worldwide. The United Nations provided the best forum for unifying efforts. That required the sharing of information, ideas and experiences on best practices. It was vital to address all factors that made the world’s youth, rich and poor, vulnerable to violent extremist ideology. The plan set a solid basis for addressing those factors and Member States should integrate them into their national strategies. Kenya would continue to partner with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate to bolster capacities and implement commitments to end the scourge.
HIROSHI MINAMI (Japan) said it was time to combat violent extremism through conventional counter-terrorism and other measures. Strongly supporting the Secretary-General’s plan and the draft resolution, he said that adopting the text by consensus would send an important message of a unified front to tackling terrorism. His country’s national action plan comprised law enforcement and preventative steps such as community policing, protection of women and children and the rehabilitation of prisoners. To help other States create societies free of radicalization, Japan offered vocational training, built schools and assisted with the re-integration of soldiers. ISIL was not alone in propagating the ideology of violent extremism to inspire and recruit young people. Everyone must increase efforts to prevent violent extremism at home, and support those that did not have the capacity to do so. Loopholes must be averted.
ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) said that since terrorism and violent extremism were on the rise globally, the international community must redouble efforts to prevent and counter them in an effective way. Prevention was the primary action in keeping situations from deteriorating into crisis, he noted, saying that his country had been a constant supporter of and contributor to international prevention mechanisms. For example, Armenia had initiated and prepared several resolutions on genocide prevention in the Human Rights Council since 2005, he said.
RAZAQ SALMAN MASHKOOR (Iraq), associating himself with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the plan of action would be useful if all Member States were committed to it. As one of the countries most affected by violent extremism, Iraq understood the need to combat terrorism and curb its associated dangers and threats. Noting that violent extremist ideologies undermined social cohesion and stability, he said the international community must prevent use of the Internet and audio-visual materials for the recruitment of terrorists. Countering such challenges required a commitment to tolerance and reconciliation, as well as respect for cultural and religious diversity and self-expression. In order to decisively counter the drivers and perpetrators of extremism, it was also necessary to promote the concepts of good governance, rule of law and human rights, and to create job opportunities and provide basic services. There was also a need for accountability and punishment for perpetrators of terrorism. Terrorist organizations were committing heinous attacks in the name of Islam, a venerable religion that had nothing to do with such acts, he stressed.
MUHAMMAD ANSHOR (Indonesia) expressed concern that violent extremism often led to terrorism. That represented a threat to international security and well-being as well as to the values of humanity. On the plan of action, he stressed that it would help Member States enhance their national strategies on addressing extremism and improving programmes to implement the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The lack of respect for different values and stigmatization were two main challenges to address such phenomenon.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said the first step towards success in combating terrorism and addressing violent extremism was strict adherence to Security Council resolutions on counter-terrorism and the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. If the United Nations wished to achieve concrete results, it must move away from double standards and not ignore Governments that supported terrorism, he emphasized. Turning to the proposed plan of Action, he noted that it consolidated the term “violent extremism” and “terrorism”, yet there was no consensus on the definition. Furthermore, the Secretary-General’s report used the term “rule of law” in an exaggerated manner to create the impression that it was one of the pillars of the United Nations whereas there was no agreement on the term or its implementation at the national and international level, he stressed.
AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said that, as a country that had suffered under the oppressive yoke of violent extremism for decades until 2009, Sri Lanka knew it in all its forms and understood the challenges it posed. Strengthening inter-agency coordination and avoiding practices that substituted process for outcome was essential, he said, welcoming the paradigm shift from countering violent extremism to preventing it. All Member States must agree on a common strategic approach to fighting violent extremism and terrorism, he emphasized. They must not lapse into bureaucratic and cyclical practices, but rather demonstrate the political will and commitment to closing ranks and making a determined effort to overcome the challenge. The building blocks for enhancing international cooperation in those areas must be recognized, particularly the 14 sectoral conventions on the suppression of terrorism created by the Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism. He expressed regret over the existence of possible gaps in the existing sectoral conventions and the failure to muster the political will to break the current impasse over a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), associating herself with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said combating terrorism would not be achieved without a comprehensive international plan. Violent terrorism was present where despotism, longstanding conflicts and lack of development prevailed. Attempts to link terrorism with specific religions were dangerous, as they gave extremists a pretext under which to recruit their supporters. She supported international and regional efforts to eliminate extremism, combat impunity and protect the human rights of all peoples, and emphasized the need to “entrench the spirit of tolerance” in all international plans to combat terrorism. She underlined the work of the Doha International Centre on Dialogue and the Islamic Centre, among other Qatari initiatives to consolidate dialogue and bring people of different religions together. Qatar was also cooperating with other States to highlight the plight of young people affected by unemployment.
MICHAEL BONSER (Canada) stressed the need for proactive investment and prevention efforts to address conditions that were conducive to violent extremism, while safeguarding human rights, promoting tolerance and pluralism and reducing inequality. Canada was actively engaged in building a comprehensive approach to addressing the drivers of violence and maintaining the goal of inclusive development for all, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 16. Emphasizing the importance of community engagement through dialogue as well as input from non-governmental actors, he called for the development of national action plans to combat radicalization and violent extremism. Canada would continue to support regional bodies and Member States in developing their capacities in those areas.
AHMED SAREER (Maldives) said that Governments had the responsibility to reconnect with youth and present them appropriate alternatives. The Maldives recognized youth as an asset of society, and it was imperative to facilitate a platform for that group to express their views. As a major policy priority, the Government was addressing the needs of a large youth population, providing them with opportunities to realize their potential. His country had enacted a new anti-terrorism bill in 2015, under which it was a serious criminal offense for any Maldivian to travel to fight in terrorist wars on foreign soil.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said the Secretary-General’s action plan must be qualitatively different from the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by delivering concrete results. That required genuine and effective cooperation. There was no rationale that justified running away from such cooperation. Terrorists groups had better levels of cooperation than Member States, which professed to fight terrorism. Sharing intelligence, enhancing border security, creating cooperation mechanisms and exchanging valuable experiences between and among Member States was essential. “We have to admit that the hypocrisy and double standards manifested in our approach so far has been undermining our efforts to respond,” he said. That must change to have a tangible impact on the ground. Regional coordination was paramount in areas most affected by the threat of terrorism and violent extremism. Ethiopia had established practical cooperation and coordination of efforts with countries in the subregion through the sharing of intelligence and experiences in the fight against terrorism.
ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama) said the phenomenon of violent extremism was so concerning that leaders of the Catholic and Orthodox churches would hold an unprecedented meeting within the Latin America region in just a few hours to address the threat in the name of peace and understanding. Expressing her country’s support for international efforts to prevent terrorism financing, a threat that jeopardized humanity, she said Panama also supported Switzerland’s initiative to hold an international conference in Geneva next April on the proposed plan of action to prevent violent extremism. The social inequality that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sought to address by creating a world free of extreme poverty, terror and violence must become a reality, she emphasized, adding that promoting peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies was imperative. Respect for democracy, human development and gender equality was a responsibility of all States, she said, adding that her country rejected all acts of violence, regardless of origin, that violated the norms of international law.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia) described the proposed plan of action as a consistent move forward, saying that a successful fight against terrorism was possible through preventive actions addressing the drivers of violent extremism. Welcoming the report’s recommendation that Member States consider developing national plans, he underlined the need to take country-specific conditions and circumstances into consideration. The development of regional and subregional plans of action, especially in the most vulnerable regions, should be based on commonalities in order to better reflect region-specific conditions and avoid duplications, he stressed.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the Secretary-General’s proposed plan of action was a sound basis for moving United Nations anti-terrorism efforts forward. Emphasizing that the prevention of violent extremism should be anchored in the protection of human rights and avoid an overreliance on military methods, he said there was a growing understanding of the need to address the underlying factors, including poverty and marginalization. Noting that the proposed plan of action touched on issues of foreign occupation, protracted conflict and systematic human rights abuses, but shied away from naming particular examples, he said it focused instead on local drivers of extremism while demonstrating little understanding of major international trends, including illicit financial flows. In order to address the “upstream challenge” of terrorism, Bangladesh had recently joined the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, and its impressive achievements in terms of women’s empowerment were a key factor in its efforts to combat terrorism, he said.
CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand) welcomed the action plan’s flexible approach and the fact that it encouraged States to pick from a range of recommendations. The plan rightly encompassed a broad range of activities beyond de-radicalization or counter-terrorism programmes. She expressed hope that such a strategy would help Member States move away from an overly securitized approach to tackling conditions that bred extremism. In New Zealand, the most effective programmes not only targeted violent extremism, but also focused on supporting inclusive communities. The challenges posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters were of critical importance to North Africa and the Middle East, not just western countries. That issue warranted further exploration and the United Nations could provide a forum for best practices. Member States required targeted support and capacity-building to effectively implement programmes to prevent violent extremism. She supported the Secretary-General’s call for United Nations field operations to integrate prevention of violent extremism into their activities. New Zealand was a member of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum and on the board of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund.
GEIR O. PEDERSEN (Norway) said violent extremism could never be legitimized, regardless of political or religious motivation, recalling that a Norwegian terrorist had killed 77 people, mostly youth, in 2011. The threat posed by groups such as ISIL, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab continued around the world, often bolstered by foreign terrorist fighters, he said, noting that not only did such fighters wreak further havoc on already vulnerable regions, but they took their violent ideologies back to their home countries. Spotlighting several elements of the proposed plan of action that were of particular interest, he said national action plans were important in tackling local drivers of violent extremism in a comprehensive manner. Norway’s national plan was a dynamic document that tackled, among other things, the issue of returning terrorist fighters, he said, adding that national plans must seek to empower such groups as civil society, youth and women. In that regard, Norway had recently launched two civil society networks — one for youth working against violent extremism, and the other an alliance of women’s organizations working against violent extremism. Poverty was not the sole cause of extremism, he noted, pointing out that marginalization was also a contributing aspect. The international community must address both “push” and “pull” factors, he said, emphasizing the need for a strong, well-resourced United Nations that was “fit for purpose”.
MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan) said the recent sad events in Paris and Bamako, as well as other acts of terrorism, had demonstrated that more than ever before the international community must collaborate closely to develop constructive approaches to preventing such barbaric acts. Emphasizing that terrorism and extremism had nothing to do with one religion, particularly Islam, he said such acts were committed by enemies of that faith. Tajikistan condemned all forms of international terrorism and supported Council resolutions as a legal basis for international cooperation to counter it, he said. The Government had taken decisive, comprehensive steps to prevent and combat terrorism and to eradicate the factors that gave rise to its spread. Those steps included a strategy covering the period 2016-2020. Officials were working on a proposal to create a centre to fight Internet crimes and cyber-terrorism, he said, adding that the United Nations Global Counter-terrorism Strategy should have the central role in that fight, focusing efforts on eliminating the military infrastructure of terrorism; blocking channels of political, military and financial support; and preventing use of the Internet for recruitment and radicalization. Cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was also essential, he said.
NKOLOI NKOLOI (Botswana) said that the existence of such groups as ISIL, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and many others presented a blatant challenge to international peace and security. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s plan, he said the starting point for countering terrorism and violent extremism should be the protection and promotion of human rights. Each State bore a responsibility in that regard and the international community needed to scale up its cooperation assistance to strengthen institutions which promoted good governance and the rule of law at the regional and national level. “This can go a long way in decimating the breeding ground for terrorism,” he said.
IHOR YAREMENKO (Ukraine) said it was necessary to combine both countering and prevention measures that were more nuanced and comprehensive in order to combat radicalization and violent extremism. Such measures must also address governance deficits, promote social development and dialogue, respect the rule of law and human rights, engage women and youth and invest in human capital and job creation. Ukraine had recently adopted its National Human Rights Strategy in addition to existing legislation aimed at building a harmonious society and preventing radicalization. The underlying factors — including corruption and poor governance, marginalization and discrimination — of violent extremism must be addressed. Similarly, he condemned any acts of “external meddling” aimed at escalating motiveless tensions leading to the outbreak of conflicts, as well as the provision of support or financing to violent extremists.
HENRY SUÁREZ (Venezuela) said terrorism and violent extremism were grave challenges to international peace and security, and the international community needed to take effective measures to prevent, combat and eliminate all forms of such phenomenon. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report, he underlined the need to address the root causes of violent extremism while recognizing that there was no “one size fits all” solution. A long term solution to terrorist threats was required to achieve a political solution in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Palestine.
KYAW TIN (Myanmar), sharing the growing concern about terrorism and violent extremism, underscored the need for the international community to take united efforts to address such challenges. At the same time, she said, Member States had the primary responsibility to prepare national action plans taking into account their priorities. The United Nations could provide technical assistance in the areas requested by its Member States.
IRENE SUSAN BARREIRO NATIVIDAD (Philippines) said addressing violent extremism required an urgent and comprehensive action. For its part, her country had developed a national action plan to counter terrorism, and intended to undertake research on extremism with a view to recommend policies, strategic measures and legal action. Furthermore, the Government was implementing de-radicalization programmes through its partnerships with religious leaders and schools in order to promote moderate and tolerant teachings. At the same time, the Philippines had been collaborating with country partners and international organizations to capacitate her country’s front-line agencies.
PABLO ARROCHA (Mexico) said the phenomenon of violent extremism must be addressed from a cross-cutting, preventive angle, including rebuilding the social fabric and ensuring development. Education on tolerance and respect for human rights must also be strengthened, and the international community must work to create the conditions for a decent life for all people. Measures to prevent extremism should be implemented without discrimination. All States were obliged to act in accordance with international law, he added, warning against stigmatizing certain populations. In addition, he cautioned that the lack of an agreed definition for the terms “terrorism” and “violent extremism” expanded the number of acts that could fall under those terms. Similarly, the international community needed to discuss the scope of the application of any new strategy to combat terrorism.
MATEO ESTREME (Argentina) said it was necessary for States to adopt measures to combat terrorism that fully respected international law, including in the areas of human rights, humanitarian and refugee law. Such measures must also respect the principles of the Charter, such as the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States, as well as the principle of non-intervention in internal affairs. States must carry out a thorough analysis of the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, including prolonged unresolved conflicts, lack of rule of law, violations of human rights, ethnic discrimination, political exclusion, economic and social marginalization and lack of good governance. On the draft plan of action, he said further information on the budgetary impact of the plan’s implementation was needed. References to “violent extremism” should be limited to those conducive to terrorism or terrorist acts, since it was a concept that, because of its breadth, could include issues that posed no threat to international peace and security.
RIADH BEN SLIMAN (Tunisia), associating himself with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the recent terrorist attacks in Tunis, Paris, Lebanon, Nigeria and other places around the world illustrated the scale of violent extremism and the urgent need to “have our actions evolve”. The causes of violent extremism, in their full complexity, must be addressed. While the emphasis in the past had been on security measures, there needed to be a shift towards focusing on the underlying factors of terrorism. The next review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy offered an opportunity to include measures that systematically prevented the deep-rooted causes of extremism. Tunisia had been able to transcend the difficulties of its recent democratic transition; however, that progress did not preclude the need to work to combat terrorism. He went on to describe a number of his country’s counter-terrorism activities, which were based on the four pillars of prevention, protection, follow-up and response.
FATOU GAYE DIAGNE (Senegal) said no country was immune to the threat of international terrorism and violent extremism. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s proposed plan of action, she underlined the urgent need for concrete action based on lessons learned. For its part, Senegal had undertaken an approach based on cooperation and rapid response, she said, adding that it participated actively in regional and international meetings. She urged the United Nations to provide technical assistance in the areas mentioned by Member States.