Remarks of the
High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
at the UNAOC Group of Friends Meeting
3 April 2018, 10:00-13:00 | UN Headquarters ECOSOC Chamber
“Preventing Violent Extremism and Sustaining Peace”
Ambassador Feridun H. Sinirlioglu, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations
Ambassador Jorge Moragas Sánchez, Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you all for joining us in today’s Group of Friends meeting. This is our first meeting of 2018.
The volatile nexus between protracted conflicts, terrorism, and violent extremism remains an ongoing challenge for the international community. We are all too aware that violent extremists seek to divide and sow instability in our societies. It is equally true that the risk of violent extremism often increases under the same conditions that lead to heightened risk of conflict. For these reasons, the General Assembly and Security Council have placed the “sustaining peace” concept at the heart of the UN’s peace-building work.
Preventing violent extremism and ensuring sustainable peace are complimentary and mutually reinforcing goals. The importance of dialogue and conflict prevention to prevent violent extremism cannot be overstated. As underscored by the Secretary-General, we should redouble our collective efforts through a more comprehensive and balanced approach to address the root causes of violent extremism, as recommended in the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.
No Member State or region alone can confront this dual challenge. Creating opportunities and platforms for community engagement is key. UNAOC has been committed, dating back to the High-level Group Report of 2006, to forging partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders, including religious leaders, representatives of civil society organizations, youth, academia, media professionals, and the business community.
In all instances, our project activities are designed to promote the underlying values that are crucial to preventing violent extremism and to advancing the goals of sustainable peace and security – tolerance, dialogue, inclusion and peaceful coexistence.
Allow me to touch on a few main activities.
First, as part of its core pillar, the Alliance continues to empower, mobilize, and support youth and youth-led organizations to counter the appeal of violent extremism.
Since its inception, the Youth Solidarity Fund (YSF) has funded 57 youth-led organizations in 34 countries that are promoting intercultural and interfaith dialogue with the aim of fostering peaceful and inclusive societies. I’m proud to note that over 90,000 beneficiaries have directly benefited from the Fund.
Today, the Fund is more relevant than ever. Security Council Resolution 2250 recognizes the importance of harnessing the potential of youth and young peace-builders in preventing and resolving conflicts. I wish to thank the Government of Finland for their continued financial support of YSF into 2018. The funding will help ensure that the goals of the resolution translate into meaningful action on the ground.
The theme of the Fellowship Program for 2018 is “Fostering youth resilience to prevent violent extremism and build sustainable peace”. Thanks to the financial support of the Governments of Germany and Spain, as well as the direct contribution of the Governments of Egypt, Morocco, Qatar, and the League of Arab States, fellows will have an opportunity to highlight shared experiences and lessons learned, offering concrete proposals for future action in this area.
Since 2009, UNAOC and our partners at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have collaborated to identify and empower young filmmakers involved in addressing the topics of migration, diversity, social inclusion and the prevention of xenophobia. I’m delighted to note that we continue to expand our global platform of distribution. Since January PLURAL+ videos have appeared at festivals and screenings in Seattle, Tunisia, Barcelona, and later this month at the Tribeca Film Festival here in New York.
Last but not least, the Young Peacebuilders programme provides an enabling environment for youth to address stereotypes, prejudice, and polarization in order to build resilience to violent extremism in their local communities and on a global scale.
All of these youth-based initiatives respond to the recommendations outlined in the recent progress study on Youth, Peace and Security mandated by the Security Council pursuant to resolution 2250, and the Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism.
Turning to the role of religious leaders in addressing drivers of radicalization leading to violence and in promoting a culture of peace.
Violent extremists continue to propagate distorted narratives of religious intolerance and hate to justify violence. Against this backdrop, I had the privilege to attend, on behalf of Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres, the High-Level Meeting on Interreligious Dialogue for Peace in Vienna at the end of February. I took the opportunity to recall the indispensable role that religious leaders play in promoting interreligious dialogue as a means to addressing incitement to violence.
Since 2013, UNAOC has organized or co-organized 30 events involving religious leaders creating a global platform for dialogue. In 2018, we will continue to strengthen our collaboration with religious leaders to develop approaches to combat the rise in violent extremism and to promote social integration and cohesion.
UNAOC has also intensified its efforts to promote pluralism and diversity, including in the media.
Back in November during the Intercultural Innovation Award Ceremony held here in New York, together with our partner BMW Group, we recognized ten new innovative grassroots projects encouraging intercultural dialogue, and promoting inclusive societies to achieve peace. Through the year, selected organizations will receive financial support and mentoring, strengthening their project effectiveness and sustainability.
In 2018, we will build on the success of our #SpreadNoHate initiative, a series of global symposia aimed at tackling hate speech against migrants and refugees in the media, to introduce training and capacity building programs for media organizations and journalists in the prevention of violent extremism.
UNAOC programming is also centered on empowering youth to develop creative technology-based solutions to tackle violent extremism. In partnership with Association ADO+ and with the support of the Centre National de l’information pour l’Enfant (CNIFE), IOM Tunis, UNHCR, Red Crescent Tunisia, among other organizations, UNAOC organized a three-day long PEACEapp workshop in Tunis, Tunisia from 28 January to 4 February 2018.
The workshop brought together thirty young people: half from Tunisia and the other half young migrants and refugees from nine countries (Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Benin, Chad, Cameroun, Syria, Yemen, Guinea, and Rwanda) to jointly develop video games. This innovative workshop contributed to developing computational thinking skills, digital literacy, creativity and intercultural dialogue.
We will continue to support innovative grassroots efforts to advance the values of tolerance, pluralism and understanding as key components of an alternative messaging campaign.
In addition to our programming activities, we are strengthening and expanding our engagement with key partners, including the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT). For instance, next week, UNAOC will be joining the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre to lead several pilot training workshops in Trinidad and Tobago for government officials and civil society representatives on developing strategic communications to counter violent extremist narratives.
This brings me to my final point.
Preventing the appeal of violent extremism and ensuring sustainable peace requires consistent, long-term, and coordinated engagement.
I am very pleased to inform that UNAOC signed the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Compact on 15 March. This initiative will further strengthen our joint efforts at addressing the complex and evolving threat of terrorism and violent extremism.
I also look forward to attending the sixth biannual review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy on 26 and 27 June as well as the first-ever High-Level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States on 28 and 29 June 2018.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
UNAOC programmes and initiatives remain an important bulwark against violent extremism and conflict. We will continue to strive to promote a culture of inclusion, tolerance and peaceful co-existence.