Statement of the UNAOC High Representative
at the UN High-level Conference on Counter-Terrorism
29 June 2018 | General Assembly Hall
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I wish to commend the UN Secretary-General and the Office of Counter-Terrorism for organizing this momentous Conference and for all their their work.
Since 2006, a tremendous amount of progress has been made in the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
It is undeniable, however, that terrorism and violent extremism remains an ongoing challenge for the international community. Terrorist and violent extremist groups in all regions of the world are determined to rip apart the social fabric that binds our shared humanity. No country is immune from terrorist acts and no country can effectively deal with this threat alone.
By bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, within a human rights and rule of law framework, we can end a cycle of impunity. Accountability for past crimes is necessary for restoring dignity to victims. It is also a crucial precondition for reconciliation and prevention of future atrocities. These are two sides of the same coin.
Since its inception, UNAOC project activities have addressed conditions conducive to violent extremism in line with pillar I of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the SecretaryGeneral’s Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism.
In response to the changing nature of violent extremism, our project activities have evolved into a robust and growing portfolio that tackles the threat from multiple directions.
I was, therefore, glad to hear the UNSG yesterday stressing in his remarks the need to increase our support to civil society organizations. He underlined that as a 4th goal of this High Level Conference : the need to make a strategic investment in young people to counter and prevent violent extremist narratives, xenophobia and hate speech.
I was pleased to hear that, because this is what UNAOC has been and is still doing.
Allow me to touch on a few principles that form a common thread in all of our programming:
First – we focus on young people as our key target audience. The complex and evolving nature of the threat requires us to harness the potential and creativity of young people. Since its inception, UNAOC has facilitated the meaningful participation of youth and youth-led organizations in conflict prevention and peace-building processes. Our Young Peace-builders programme and Fellowship Programme are prime examples.
Second – we acknowledge the importance of civil society. It is the great force multiplier for promoting values of peace, social inclusion, and mutual coexistence in preventing and countering violent extremism. No government or multi-lateral institution is able to reach as broadly or deeply into a society.
We have also demonstrated our ability to develop programming focused on the role of the media in advancing a positive alternative to violent extremist narratives. Factual, independent, verifiable and responsible reporting can play a key role in this respect. Free and independent media that celebrate the value of critical thinking helps undermine the destructive propaganda of violent extremism.
Through our #SpreadNoHate initiative, my Office is engaging global media in a dialogue on hate speech and sharing best practices in line with international human rights standards to promote positive counter-narratives to the radical and xenophobic rhetoric used by extremist and terrorist groups. We have organized in the past 2 years 5 seminars on Hate Speech.
During the past few years, my Office has also redoubled its efforts at promoting the use of interreligious and intercultural dialogue as a vehicle for combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, and violence against persons based on religion or belief. Since 2013, UNAOC has organized or co-organized 30 events involving religious leaders creating a global platform for dialogue.
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
The only way to defeat terrorism and violent extremism is through a whole-of-society approach. For our part, at UNAOC, we look forward to strengthening our partnership with Member States, international and regional organizations, and all Global Counter-Terrorism Compact partners.
I thank you.