26 SEPTEMBER 2014
Your Excellency Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa ,President of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly,
Your Excellency Mr. José García-Margallo y Marfil, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Spain;
Your Excellency Mr. Volkan BOZKIR, Minister for EU Affairs of the Republic of Turkey,
Your Excellency Mr. Jean-Paul Laborde, Executive Director, Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate,
Dear Dr. Jehangir Khan, Director, Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
• Good morning and welcome back to New York. It is good to be back after the summer season, and especially after the successful Sixth UNAOC Global Forum we convened in Bali.
• First and above all else, I would like to reiterate my sincere thanks to the people and government of Indonesia for making us feel at home in Bali. We are deeply indebted to you for the success of the Sixth Global Forum.
• As you are all aware, we did not have any rest after Bali, as we have just started the 69th Session on the UNGA with its very busy schedule. Tens of world leaders have expressed their concern for what is happening in the world. There is a barely a region in the world where we are not seeing some level tension across communities.
• I was touched by what I perceived to be a global feeling for the need to work together and protect one another for the sake of our future generations.
• Our forum in Bali addressed many of these live ongoing situations around the world with a view to helping and empowering our young people to resolve some of these issues. After all, they are the ones who will inherit the dilemmas we face today.
• During the Forum, we engaged in a profoundly interesting and interactive dialogue; we listened to the voices of youth, civil society organizations, religious leaders, and politicians.
• We learned how the state of global harmony continues to be worrisome. We saw that many of today’s conflicts have a cultural, religious or ethnic dimension. Identity-based division continues to be a common feature of conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and even Eastern Europe. The Alliance is mindful of this troubling fact and remains responsive to the scourges that it was created to combat with its soft power preventive approaches.
• Based on this fact, I decided to choose for the discussion during our ministerial meeting today the very pressing issue that threatens all of us in the 21st century: the rise of violent extremism and its role in fueling the scourge of terrorism.
• In relation to the theme of this ministerial meeting, “New and Emerging Ideological Threats to International Peace and Co-Existence”, let me brief you on how the Bali forum contributed to the UN’s agenda on the culture of peace and its counter terrorism strategy:
• The Theme of the Global Forum was Unity in Diversity. This theme weaves through the mosaic of efforts aiming at countering radicalization, polarization and violence.
• The Alliance created, in Bali, a platform for dialogue among world leaders, thought leaders, politicians, religious leaders, media experts, NGOs and businessmen. They all gathered there, to brainstorm and think out of the box on how to foster dialogue among different communities and cultures, so as to eradicate radicalization and extremism.
• All of our 11 breakout sessions, 6 side events and 2 plenaries stressed that education, social inclusion, the promotion of shared values, tolerance and mutual respect, are essential components for combating violent extremism – this is itself a critical element in building peace and security and promoting a culture of peace among nations.
• We learned that there is a need to examine our differences, if we are to build a proper foundation for conflict resolution. We learned that we need to resolve protracted conflicts, create better educational curricula and improve understanding of a culture of peace among the next generation, enhance the approach of media, do more to integrate migrants in their new societies, and explore new and innovative paths for the Alliance to increase its effectiveness.
• Panelists agreed that among the actions absolutely necessary to counter violent extremism is a more constructive approach to religious education, one that fosters the key ingredient of teaching about shared humanistic values. This approach is important to teach the future generations that religions are a source of peace and co-existence, and not of confrontation and violence.
• I also take this opportunity to invite you to implement the Bali declaration, which emphasizes the roles and responsibilities of the international community to save this planet from the scourge of terrorism.
• Governments are responsible to promulgate the necessary legal structures. International Organizations are responsible to ensure that new standards of tolerance and inclusion are institutionalized. And individuals are responsible to lead by example – to act before their families and friends in a manner conducive to the spread of harmony.
• Above all else, our attempts at building peace must be effective and everyone must feel the dividends of these activities. For it is protracted conflicts and the exclusion and marginalization of specific groups in society that help create the ground in which violent ideologies can easily take root. Let us not forget this fact.
• The events we are witnessing in the Middle East are further evidence of this. In this context, I welcome recent actions taken by the Security Council to combat violent extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and Africa regions. For the Alliance, our role as a soft power preventive tool that targets hearts and minds complements actions by other UN organs and agencies in this area.
• Today, you, senior representatives of Governments, International Organizations, civil society, media and academia, will discuss this very pressing issue , at this ministerial meeting in order to explore how we can effectively bridge cultural divides.
• We will discuss how the Alliance, with your support, can contribute to building mutual understanding and respect among and between troubled communities, how we can best fulfill our vision and how our mission can be made more realistic and more responsive .
• Isn’t this why the Alliance was created? If we really want to see results then we need to be frank in discussing the circumstances conducive to the spread of terror, insecurity and savageness. This includes the entire range of members of the International Community.
• We at the Alliance will also continue the activities we are conducting to counter violent extremism , in cooperation with DPA and its Mediation Support Unit, CTITF, CTED, DESA, UNDP, UNESCO and other components of the UN system. We will continue and enhance our collaboration and partnerships with civil society and count on the enlightening thoughts of academia, in order to serve the peoples of the world.
• Having said all this, I don’t want you to think that we are not surrounded by negative events only. I want to also recognize that there are many positive signs and actions done by governments, civil society and regional organizations that we can invest and improve. So lets use every opportunity we have to help our selves for living our lives in dignity, civility and to count on the rule of law, which is the corner stone for every modern society.
• So we need to unite and reject any suggestion of a clash of civilizations. Belief in permanent religious war is the misguided refuge of extremists who cannot build or create anything, and therefore peddle only fanaticism and hate. And it is no exaggeration to say that humanity’s future depends on us uniting against those who would divide us along fault lines of tribe or sect; race or religion
• Following this session, I will ask my staff to take note of all the concrete suggestions in order to build our first non-paper on our topic of discussion. I intend to discuss this non-paper with you at a later stage and build on it through a series of consultations.
• I thank you and will stop here since I’m looking forward to your important contributions.