Mr. Miguel Moratinos
The High-Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
5th Meeting of the Global Counter Terrorism Coordination Compact
28 August, 2020
Under-Secretary-General, Office of Counter-Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov,
Excellencies & Distinguished Delegates,
At the outset, I would like to congratulate Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov and his office for the success of the Counter-Terrorism virtual week last month. It was a timely meeting and I was very privileged to participate in the webinar on youth-led and youth-driven initiatives to build resilient societies together with Under-Secretary General Achim Steiner and the UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake.
Pulling-off live virtual meetings of this nature is very challenging considering the circumstances.
I firmly believe that the threat this pandemic poses to international peace and security is no less serious than the threat posed by terrorism. Despite relative progress made by some countries in flattening the curve of the pandemic, many others are grappling with set-backs and second waves. This means that we are not yet out of the woods and as such we need to re-affirm our commitment to an All-of-Society approach to prevent terrorists and extremists groups from exploiting the vulnerabilities and vacuums created by COVID-19 to their own ends. It is important to recognize that this pandemic has laid bare the inequalities and fractures in our societies that still persist in many parts of the world and were further exacerbated by the pandemic. We all know too well that these fissures pave a smooth path for terrorist and extremist groups to prey on their victims. In the past months, we have already witnessed a surge in stigma and hate speech as well as misogyny and racist discourse particularly targeting vulnerable communities based on their religion, ethnicity, gender or social status. Places of worship had not been spared such attacks.
Just few days ago we commemorated 2 significant International UN days: the International Day for the victims of terrorism and the International day of the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief. In many ways, many terrorist attacks are linked to radical ideologies. Terrorist and radical groups continue to misuse digital technology to recruit their victims offering them a twisted sense of purpose based on lies.
Based on the aforementioned, addressing the root causes of violent extremism conducive to terrorism through a coordinated All-of-Society approach is imperative. It is also important to strengthen overall coordination and coherence of United Nations work in support of Member States’ efforts to prevent and counter terrorism, with respect for human rights and rule of law as the fundamental basis.
In this context, UNAOC is very pleased to be contributing to those efforts through its co-chairmanship with UNESCO and UNDP of the Working Group on Preventing & Countering Violent Extremism led by UNOCT. These are few examples of joint activities:
1. We are gearing up to launching the joint project on Intercultural dialogue and socio-emotional competencies for peacebuilding” (a Videogames Project) with UNESCO and UNCCT.
2.The Global Programme on Security of Major Sporting Events, and Promotion of Sport and its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism” with UNOCT, UNICRI and ICSS. UNAOC with the other partners aim to harness the soft power of sports as a social equalizer to complement the security governance component of the program. It is driven by the recognition that sports can be a powerful resource the development of efforts aimed at preventing and countering violent-extremism and radicalization and promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and facilitating integration at large. I look forward to participating in your high-level meeting on 18th September on that topic to update you on the progress we have made in this portfolio including our new partnerships with Atletico de Madrid, LA Liga and the Global Association of International Sports Federation.
3. YouthWagingPeace Phase II: The Whole Community Approach to Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education” with UNESCO and Mahatma Ghandi Institute of Education, Peace and Sustainable Development was implemented early this year. We continue to follow-up and mentor on-line the participating projects.
4. In line with the Secretary-General Report on the socio-economic impact of COVID19, we are strengthening the role and engagement of faith actors and religious leaders in addressing the challenges of the pandemic. We also know from previous public health crises – from HIV/AIDS to Ebola – the mobilizing capacity of faith actors influencing people’s values, attitudes, behaviours, and actions. In this context, we are working with the Office of Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide and the Office of the High-Commissioner for Human Rights on launching soon a results-oriented Global Pledge for Action by faith actors in support to the UN response and recovery strategies.
5. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) continues to collaborate with state and non-state actors and stakeholders including faith actors and relevant UN entities to implement strategies and plans launched by the United Nations Secretary-General such as the Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites as well as the Call to Action on Human Rights and the Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech.
Meanwhile, as preparations are underway for an unusual 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, my office is working on the preparations for UNAOC Group of Friends High-Level Meeting to take place, virtually, on 29th September with the virtual participation of the UN Secretary General and the President of the 75th session of the General Assembly. It will be themed “Shaping a Better World: Building Cohesive and Inclusive Societies in a Challenging COVID-19 Environment”.The one day virtual event will be complemented by 2 webinars on 2 important topics The first is An intergenerational dialogue with Youth and the future they Want and the second on Countering the rise of racism, xenophobia and hate speech.
Like other entities, due to COVID19 , many of our events and project activities have been postponed or moved on line. This includes the postponement of UNAOC 9th Global Forum which was planned in Morocco in November 2020.
Additionally, Most of our flagship projects continue to operate online. Work is in progress in terms of converting the content of the new iterations of these projects preparing for their launch this fall.
I look forward to continuing our collaboration with UNOCT and other Counter-Terrorism Global Compact entities.