08 April 2016

Opening remarks at press encounter with Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter at the Geneva Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism

Ban Ki-moon

I am very much pleased to be joined by His Excellency Mr. Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

I want to sincerely thank the Swiss Government and Foreign Minister for co-hosting the Geneva Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism.

I am greatly encouraged that so many Ministers and Heads of Regional and UN Organizations have come together to focus on solutions and share best practices to prevent violent extremism. We have had extremely productive discussions this morning.

Violent extremism is a direct assault on the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It represents a grave threat to international peace and security.

The threat of violent extremism is not limited to any one religion, nationality or ethnic group.

In recent years, the international community’s response to violent extremism has centred on countering the threat. But security and military actions alone cannot defeat this scourge.

These responses have their limits – sometimes they have even been counter-productive.

We need a more comprehensive and balanced approach that addresses the drivers of violent extremism.

That is what this conference is about. That is what my Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism is about. We have come together to address the long, hard and necessary road of prevention.

In January, I launched the UN Action Plan to Prevent Violent Extremism.

It provides a little over 70 practical recommendations and seven key priority areas to galvanize the international action to this fast evolving, multidimensional challenge.

The Plan calls on countries to forge National Plans of Action, engaging all of society in that effort.

This morning, I appealed to Ministers, Heads of International and Regional Organizations and representatives of Civil Society Organizations to demonstrate political vision, courage and leadership and, most of all, political will to come together to prevent violent extremism.

We need more dialogue and conflict prevention. We need to foster human rights and the rule of law to prevent violence and protect people. We need to empower communities, women and youth if we want to make our societies stronger.

We need to better communicate our common values of peace, justice and inclusion against the division, intolerance and hatred spread by violent extremists.

And we must put these values into action and forge a truly inclusive approach.

The UN Plan is not only a call to action, it is also a call to unity.

In the true spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, we must take united action now in order to save succeeding generations. We need to act quickly to restore a legacy of hope and promise to our youth.

Today we are sending an important message that the countries of the United Nations are united in action to prevent the scourge of violent extremism.