Remarks by Ms. Nihal Saad,
Director, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
25 January 2024, New York / Online
Tenth United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact Committee Meeting: “Session 3 UN Counter-Terrorism Compact’s coordination with regional organizations, civil society, and the private sector in preventing and countering terrorism in Africa”
Thank you Rafi.
I am very pleased to participate in this session.
Africa continues to be the victim of many injustices.
The pandemic and the war in Ukraine aggravated not only the economic situation but rather the social, cultural and religious dimensions as well. radical and terrorist groups have maliciously used these fissures to recruit and mobilize young Africans.
This evolving threat posed by terrorist and violent extremist groups demands flexible, collaborative and innovative strategies by stakeholders at global, regional, national level.
Gaining the trust with Africa means that our work in Africa should be based on an African-led solutions.
It is essential to engage with a diverse array of partners in a coherent and coordinated approach.
Establishing robust and efficient collaborations with civil society organizations, the private sector, regional organizations (and the academia), offers an opportunity to enhance comprehension and foster in-depth learning as well as driving innovation.
UNAOC has long recognized the importance of working in complementary with civil society organizations. CSOs have a unique role in understanding community needs and challenges being often closer to the direct targets and beneficiaries of our work.
Through its Youth Solidarity Fund (YSF), one of the leading support mechanisms in the United Nation system for young people promoting social cohesion and tacking polarization through their youth led projects. Since 2008, UNAOC funded and provided capacity building support to 80 youth-led organizations in more than 44 countries representing a total of $2.5 million in investments.
Examples of projects supported in Africa through YSF includes:
“Nurturing for Peace” implemented by the Uganda Muslim Youth Development Forum, based in Uganda. The project promotes interfaith relations and fosters social cohesion among youth of different religious sects in Eastern Uganda. The organization created “Youth Interfaith Peace Gardens” in two districts, offering diverse young people gardening fellowships to develop professional skills, and a platform for interfaith dialogue to reduce recruitment and support for violent extremism in these areas.
Amani Center, based in Kenya. Through its project, the Amani Center trained a group of radio journalists to produce and broadcast programs focusing on peace, the prevention of violent extremism, and social cohesion to be aired in areas susceptible to conflict and radicalization, were also being developed on these topics.
“Youth Peace Dialogues” implemented by the Association Development by Young People (ADYP), based in Burkina Faso. A project engaging young people across selected municipalities in peacebuilding activities to promote social cohesion and empower them to become agents of peace. Three peacebuilding clubs were established and operationalized by young people in which they run PVE activities such as workshops, dialogues and advocacy campaigns for other young people of diverse backgrounds, regions, religions, ethnicities and levels of education to promote religious tolerance and discourage radicalization.
Recognizing the importance of mobilizing all stakeholders to better address challenges related to preventing and countering terrorism in a whole of society approach, UNAOC partners with the private sector to leverage the respective strengths to empower grassroots projects, scale up social innovation, drive meaningful change and ultimately make a more sustainable impact in the community served.
Through the “Intercultural Innovation Hub” (IIH), in collaboration with BMW Group, and with the support of Accenture, UNAOC identifies innovative grassroots projects implemented by CSOs which benefit by financial grants and a holistic support consisting of a blend of in person and online coaching focused on bolstering the capacities of recipient organizations and improving the long-term impact of their projects, allowing them to sustainably expand their range of action and replicate their initiatives in other contexts.
Since 2011, we supported a network of 81 CSOs worldwide which have impacted over 6 million beneficiaries in 118 countries. Out of the 12 CSOs based in Africa (Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda) notable example of projects focused on PCVE include:
Interfaith Mediation Center (Nigeria), whose activities aim to prevent the recurrence of violent religious conflict in the Kaduna State in Northern Nigeria.
Grassroots Reconciliation Group (Uganda), focused on supporting child soldiers reconcile with their war affected communities in norther Uganda through socioeconomic building programs.
Unleash Tunisia Venture Bus (Tunisia), focused on empowering and strengthening entrepreneurship skills of youth living in remote areas at risk of radicalization.
Effective collaboration with regional organizations is of paramount importance in addressing global challenges effectively. Regional organizations possess nuanced insights of their respective regions. By partnering with regional organizations, the UN can leverage their localized knowledge, networks and influence to implement more targeted and contextually relevant initiatives.
Additionally, joint efforts with regional organizations enhance the legitimacy and ownership of interventions.
Last November, UNAOC with UNOCT, within the framework of the United Nations Global Programme on Security of Major Sporting Events and Promotion of Sport and its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism (“Global Programme”), in collaboration with the African Union Sport Council and the 13th African Games LOC, organized a UN-African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Youth Forum on the Role of Young in the 13th African Games with the objective of raising awareness of the role and significance of sport in PVE and compiling recommendations on integrating young people in organizing major sporting event and related sport-for-PVE initiatives.
I thank you.