United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres departed New York for Kenya on Monday, 8 July.
Shortly after arrival in Nairobi on Tuesday, the Secretary-General went to the Kamakunju area of Nairobi to visit the Jiongoze Project, which aims at reducing vulnerability to radicalization and violent extremism among the youth. During his visit to the project, the Secretary-General met young people who were part of a project which aims to help local youth develop technology skills and find online employment.
During a town hall meeting at the same site, the Secretary-General listened to community representatives explain a number of projects aimed to combat violent extremism and terrorism in a neighbourhood of Nairobi that has suffered from a number of terrorist attacks in recent years.
After hearing from them, the Secretary-General said that he was impressed by the comprehensive approach taken by the community and that they were looking at all aspects of the threats that they face. He also told them that he found some of their projects particularly innovative. The lesson, he said, was that they all understood that it was better to prevent than to respond.
Later in the afternoon, the Secretary-General held a number of internal meetings with the United Nations leadership in Kenya.
Early on Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General opened the high-level conference on counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism hosted at the United Nations Gigiri complex in Nairobi.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that terrorism in Africa is spreading and destabilizing entire regions, but he noted that the people of Africa continue to show great courage and resilience in challenging those who seek to spread violence and hatred. “The determination of Africans to find solutions to the scourge of terrorism is clear,” Mr. Guterres added. (See Press Release SG/SM/19660.)
The Secretary-General outlined to the delegates what he hoped the conference would achieve, notably new and strengthened partnerships between Africa and the international community, and between African States themselves, to tackle the threat of violent extremism and terrorism. The transnational nature of terrorism underscored the vital importance of multilateralism, he emphasized.
He encouraged the delegates to address the drivers and enablers of violent extremism conducive to terrorism. While nothing can justify this violence, it does not arise in a vacuum, he said.
In order to address and prevent this scourge entire communities must be mobilized, and local solutions must be developed, he said. The Secretary-General pointed out the particular importance of the need to fully engage women, to empower youth and to listen to the voices of the victims of terrorism.
In conclusion, he said it was time for the international community to step up and provide the financial and technical resources to support African-owned and -led counter-terrorism efforts, while fully respecting human rights, the rule of law and gender considerations.
Prior to the meeting, the Secretary-General met with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta. The two discussed regional issues, climate change and the strong partnership between Kenya and the United Nations.
He also had a bilateral meeting with Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
After the opening session, the Secretary-General was joined by Moussa Faki Mahamat at a brief encounter with the media. He told journalists that the international community needed to support Africa’s efforts to combat terrorism and prevent violent extremism are not only a matter of interest for the Africans, it’s a matter of global security as terrorists today travel everywhere. Preserving peace and security in Africa is the best way to preserve peace and security all over the world, Mr. Guterres said.
He also reminded the journalists of the need for sustained predictable funding for the various regional efforts to combat terrorism.
During his visit to the United Nations compound in Nairobi, the Secretary-General met with the United Nations country team leadership and held a town hall meeting with United Nations staff.
He also had a series of bilateral meetings with other senior officials attending the conference.
Prior to departing Gigiri, he participated in a dialogue on the role of women in preventing violent extremism. The Secretary-General had the opportunity to listen to a number of women civil society representatives working across all five African Union regions who shared their experiences and their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges of working on counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism.
The Secretary-General left Kenya for Mozambique very early on Thursday morning, 11 July.