New York, 2 December 2013
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to be here at the Greentree Estate with you for CTITF’s annual retreat. On behalf of the UNAOC I thank you for this opportunity.
This is an especially important moment for all of us as CTITF coordination team while we are on the threshold of the 4th review process to the UN Global Strategy on Counter Terrorism.
I commend the CTITF for increasing its level of coordination with the other core UN entities present here. To me, this is a perfect example and a perfect topic on which to advance our “one UN” approach.
The threat of terrorist acts became multifaceted and global on their effects on the international peace and stability. Security, human rights and development are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. This is why it is critical that we, as a platform, further mainstream our work into the rest of the UN’s operations: from political missions and humanitarian and development-related matters to the Secretary General’s “Rights Up Front” Action Plan [a new initiative by the Secretary-General to put human rights front and center in the United Nations’ conflict prevention efforts], which is a part of his crucial prevention agenda.
The fact is, at the end of the day, we find that terrorism is just a tool; sadly, it is an effective one at creating mass panic and fear, and gaining visibility for a violent cause.
What we really need to fight, from the Alliance’s perspective, is ideology and the factors that allow violent ideologies to spread, as mentioned in pillar one of the strategy.
In the same context, the UN Alliance of Civilizations’ foundational document, the High Level Group Report, mandates it to work on countering the factors that cause polarization, radicalization, and violence between and within communities.
In addition to what the strategy mentioned about the need for intercultural dialogue, as you are aware, Security Council Resolutions 1624 and 1963 emphasize need for greater dialogue between cultures and civilizations. Resolution 1963 directly references the UN Alliance of Civilizations and its vital role in fostering greater understanding and dialogue.
Since UNAOC is concerned primarily with the root causes and our activities fall under Pillar 1 of the UN Global Strategy, we focus in our work on three areas:
– Young people: Our work strives to empower marginalized, at-risk young people in communities around the world and to mainstream youth voices into political processes through workshops, trainings, and small grants to fund local projects.
– Media – here our focus has been to counter narratives that lead to incitement and hate speech. To achieve this, we have engaged in two types of activities:
Organizing training workshops for journalists in collaboration with senior media professionals and conflict resolution experts.
Providing a platform to voices of credible individuals who put out messages that counter hate speech and negative narratives.
– Religion – in this area of work, we have engaged leaders of different faiths to speak out in their communities and engage in intra-faith dialogue to confront the issue of extremism.
As part of our community-focused approach, UNAOC builds trust and credibility with local civil society actors that is essential to our ability to provide effective programming that is, context-specific and tailored to local needs.
In terms of collaboration with CTITF, I am proud to note that in the coming months, we will implement a CTITF-funded project to engage Somali diaspora media, among other proposals under discussion for Asia.
Additionally, UNAOC has played and continues to play a thought leadership role within CTITF’s DUCAT (Dialogue and Understanding to Counter the Appeal of Terrorism) Working Group.
As CTITF increases coordination between core entities, our view is that the Working Groups are a critical avenue for setting a shared agenda for action.
However, for the Working Groups to be effective, it is vital that we have a clear methodology for how they operate. From our perspective, this entails three aspects:
A focus on impact and clearly articulated expected outputs or projects from each Working Group.
Greater convergence in the work of the Working Groups, including launching shared projects and considering the possibility of establishing a steering board that meets periodically for better focus and coordination among the groups.
A clear annual reporting mechanism to foster greater accountability within the Working Groups and measurable results.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I think we as a CT platform are headed in the right direction but It is important at this juncture that we put deep thought and intellectuality into, first, articulating our added value compared to other players in the field; second, we need to be liked in the areas of CT focus than using the policy of stick and sanctions only. Soft power is what we want to increase from the AoC perspective. We want to avoid being described as discriminative or targeting certain areas or regions. CT efforts must be global and the 4 pillars should be observed and implemented all together in a balanced manner. Sanction regime should be reformed and operated in accordance with due process and human rights law. Prevention is what we need to increase instead of spending more resources on reaction.
All these considerations are important to highlight in the upcoming SG report, including the fact that we are in need for the draft convention on International Terrorism to get agreed on between member states.
Next April the SG report will be issued and member states will embark on the negotiating a GA resolution to adopt the review. We need to get engaged in the process since the draft resolution will be tabled in June then will be adopted in September. We need to see our thoughts in the resolution.
These are some of my initial thoughts and I look forward to our discussions in the next two days and to exploring opportunities to further enhance our collaboration.
Thank you and I wish you successful discussions.