UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon calls for preventing extremism with education

UNITED NATIONS; United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has presented a plan to the 193-member General Assembly aimed at preventing violent extremism around the world.

Ban’s report focuses on preventive measures such as conflict resolution, the empowerment of youth, education and the use of social media to “challenge the narratives associated with violent extremism.”

The report is part of the General Assembly’s meeting Friday on the UN’s global counter-terrorism strategy.

In September 2006, speaking at the UNESCO Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism, Ban Ki-moon had underlined the importance of human rights in the struggle: “Terrorism and violent extremism prevail when human rights are violated.”

Ban Ki-Moon had asserted that the keys for success were action to ‎engage all society, to reach out to youth, using new media, plus strong leadership and institutions, all guided by the moral compass of shared values. These keys were to be at the heart of his forthcoming comprehensive Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism to be presented to the UN General Assembly.

In his report presented at the UN General Assembly, Ban said that “we need to pay more attention to why individuals are attracted to violent extremist groups.”

The nature of terrorism, including the increased radicalization of individuals through social media, has changed over the last decade and violent extremism can only be eradicated by including preventive measures, the United Nations chief said.

Ban Ki-moon’s study calls on member states to employ conflict resolution, empower youth, develop educational opportunities and embrace human rights in the battle against terrorism.

Ban said young people should be empowered by supporting their participation in activities that prevent violent extremism. They should also be engaged in decision-making at national and international levels, especially those from under-represented groups. He also pointed to the importance of education and jobs.

Ban noted that in recent years terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, Al-Qaida and Boko Haram “have shaped our image of violent extremism and the debate on how to address the threat.”

Ban said in recent years these groups have effectively used social media to communicate their “ideas and exploits.” He called on member nations to develop communications strategies to counter the social media messages of violent extremists.

The report is part of the General Assembly’s two-year review that ends Friday of the U.N.’s 10-year-old global counter-terrorism strategy.

The General Assembly has adopted a counter-terrorism resolution that condemns terrorism in all its forms and underscores the resolve of the international community to strengthen the global response to terrorism.

Many of Ban’s suggestions were adopted by members on Friday, as the world body seeks to adapt to developments in international terrorism and violent extremism over the past decade.

The resolution also supports national, regional and international efforts to battle terrorism. Its basic tenets include prevention, the building up of countries’ capacities to fight terrorism, strengthening the U.N.’s role, as well as ensuring the rule of law.

Catherine Calothy, an anti-terrorism official in France’s ministry of foreign affairs, welcomed the recommendations for preventing radicalization. She said she hoped for a swift military defeat of (the Islamic State), but said the phenomenon of radicalization would continue.

“Prevention is an issue that no state can ignore,” she said.

Britain’s Ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft applauded the resolution and said it raises the “global ambition to do more together” to fight terrorism after a decade in which the U.N. as a whole could have been more effective.

“Collectively we could have done more,” he said.


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