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Statement on Racially or Ethnically Motivated Terrorism in the Time of COVID-19

Delivered by Ambassador Anne-Kirsti Karlsen at a side-event hosted by USA, Germany and Norway during the 2020 Chairmanship OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Conference.

I would like to thank you all for the opportunity to talk in this format.

Racially and ethnically motivated terrorism is a threat to every participating state. Norway is taking this very seriously and we are happy to co-sponsor this event with our friends from Germany and the USA.

Violent attacks against innocents are, of course, abhorrent, no matter what the motivation might be. In Norway, we have been unfortunate to suffer devastating attacks from right wing extremists, first in 2011, but also in 2019. In their annual report, The Norwegian Police Security Service estimates that an attack from right wing extremists is as likely to happen in the coming year, as one performed by extremist islamists.

To counter these threats, the fight against radicalisation and violent extremism must be fought on several fronts. The Norwegian government launched its ”Action plan against radicalisation and violent extremism” in 2014, taking into account a “whole of government approach”. It involves schools, health and children’s protective services, municipalities, the police and the security services.

The Norwegian government updated this Action plan this year, and many members of Norwegian society contributed in the effort: religious communities, civil society, researchers and public authorities. The goal remains the same: to identify individuals at risk of becoming radicalised as early as possible, and use measures that are proven to work. 

When the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs re-evaluated our OSCE-strategy three years ago, Violent Extremism and Radicalisation that leads to Terrorism (or VERLT as it is known in the OSCE) was named as one of four thematic priorities.

We strongly believe that the organisation can provide added value in the work to counter-terrorism. OSCE’s field missions are well placed to assist host countries in building capacities based on best practices from all the participating states. Further, in a time when polarisation often makes common understanding of common challenges difficult to obtain, we believe that VERLT is a subject where finding a common approach might be possible.

Norway is also involved in preventing violent extremism in other international fora. We are engaged in the “Christchurch Call to Action”; we lead the group of friends “preventing violent extremism” in the UN together with Jordan, and cooperate closely with friends and partners in the EU and elsewhere.

Right wing extremism is a serious threat to our societies that must be dealt with in a whole of government approach, and through international cooperation. I look forward to hearing insight from today’s panellists.