Geneva, Switzerland

17 March 2016

Secretary-General's video message to Human Rights Council Panel Discussion on the Human Rights Dimensions of Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

Your Excellency Mr. Choi Kyong-lim, President of the Human Rights Council, Your Excellency Ms. Beatriz Londoño Soto, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations in Geneva, Ms. Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Distinguished panellists,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome today’s discussion.

Human rights abuses by violent extremists directly assault the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. 
My new Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism stresses that human rights and the rule of law should be central whether we are countering violent extremism or trying to prevent it.

While there can be no justification for violent extremism, we need to examine its drivers to develop effective, rights-based responses. 

That means addressing discrimination, ensuring good governance, and providing access to education, social services and employment opportunities.

These steps can help strengthen trust between state institutions and the people they serve.

Approaches that are morally wrong are also strategically counterproductive because they further alienate marginalized communities. 

We know violent extremist groups are acting with growing impunity, but it is essential that the fight against violent extremism fully respects human rights.

We must address violent extremism as an urgent human rights priority, while avoiding the use of sweeping definitions of terrorism or violent extremism that encroach on human rights.

Full respect for human rights and accountability for wrongdoing are essential to heal broken societies and successfully counter the threat of violent extremists.

Thank you for your commitment to this work.