Remarks by Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos
High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
CT Week Side Event: ‘Prevention and the misuse of new communications platforms’
30 June 2021 (1:30 – 3:00 PM EDT)
I am very pleased to be addressing this important topic. I am glad that our teams succeeded in bringing together all the remarkable speakers I see in this panel. I therefore wish to thank His Excellency Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office His Excellency Ambassador Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of the Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations, and Madame Michele Coninsx, Executive Director of the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate, for their partnership.
COVID19 has disrupted virtually every aspect of our lives. The impact of which goes well beyond being a health ordeal. One of the most serious repercussions of the pandemic has been and still is the spread of the hate virus which has spiked and thrived on line . Stigma and misogyny became the new normal.
Extremists from a range of ideological positions took advantage of the new technologies and the dependency on on-line communications during prolonged lock-downs and curfews.
There is no doubt that we owe it to new technologies which kept us connected to our businesses and the rest of the world but mostly to our families and friends throughout the past year. At the same time, new innovative communication platforms continue to emerge every day and terrorists and radical groups were the first in line to catch speed. Our actions, however, have not kept the same pace.
Against this backdrop, it is imperative that we find innovative ways to harness the power of these new technologies to prevent and counter hate speech and violent extremism within the framework of rule of law and human rights. So I look forward to listening to the panelists is this session who are experts in digital platforms such as Eitadal , Discord and Moonshot. Just few weeks ago , I was very pleased to visit again Eitdal at their premises in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I was particularly impressed by their report on “Digital Jihad” which draws the linkage between cyberspace and cybercrime and how terrorists distort Islamic heritage as means of recruitment.
As such, there are other good practices in countering terrorist narratives and radical ideologies.
I am very pleased that today we are walking the talk.
UNAOC has been working on exposing younger generations to media literacy and critical thinking skills with the goal to help them acquire a set of skills needed to create counternarratives against hate and intolerance and develop innovative techniques to create compelling content that promotes positive values and responds to misrepresentations of facts.
The EDIN project (Empowering Dialogue and Interfaith Networks) which USG Voronkov and H.E. Ambassador Abdullah Al Mouallimi referred to earlier in their remarks, is a case in point and I am very pleased that we are unveiling the project today which UNAOC jointly implemented with UNCCT and UNOCT. I thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generous support for such result-oriented initiatives.
The program which targets young leaders, representatives of Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) and media makers equips them with effective communication tools through a peer-to-peer learning process with media makers so as to enhance their capacity to challenge terrorist ideologies on the new on line platforms. Similarly, young media makers are provided with religious literacy tools so as to debunk terrorist and hateful discourse and promote religious understanding as key to social cohesion.
Later in this session, you will hear directly from three participants in the project EDIN about their experience and the social media campaigns that they are currently implementing addressing radicalization, hate speech and extremist views and highlighting the positive examples of peaceful coexistence and interfaith harmony which are fulling UNAOC’s motto “Many Cultures, One Humanity”.
I am proud of this pilot initiative and I thank the team at UNOCT/UNCCT and my team at UNAOC for their dedication and diligence over the past 7 months. I look forward to exploring opportunities to adapt this initiative and approach to different regions. We stand ready to further collaborate with UN partners, member states, civil societies and the private sector in finding innovative and effective approaches to counter violent extremists’ misuse of new communication platform.
I thank you and I look forward to the interactive discussion.