Terrorist and violent extremist groups continue to find new ways to carry out attacks, finance their activities, spread propaganda and recruit new personnel to their ranks. The threat posed by terrorist networks such as ISIL, al-Qaida and “home-grown terrorists” remains a global security threat. Their ideologies of intolerance and violence pose a challenge to our shared values of peace, security, human rights, and the rule of law.
The fight against ISIL is succeeding. As a result of the efforts by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL, the terrorist group has lost considerable territory in Iraq and Syria. Norway is playing an important role in the efforts against ISIL, both militarily and by allocating considerable aid and resources to provide life-saving and stabilizing support in areas liberated from ISIL. There is a tremendous need for immediate humanitarian aid and the international community has a critical responsibility to provide support and relief. Also, the root causes that led to the rise of ISIL are still present and must be dealt with. Inclusive political systems/solutions are critical if we are to avoid the resurgence of a new ISIL.
Preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism are key priorities for the Norwegian government. It is crucial to mobilize and engage civil society, youth, women, faith leaders and local communities. This is a central feature in Norway’s whole of society approach, as reflected in the Government’s National Action Plan against Radicalization and Violent Extremism.
In 2015, the Norwegian Government launched its White Paper “Global security challenges in Norway’s foreign policy” with the aim of strengthening Norway’s contribution to international stability, peace and development. We have recommended that a whole of society approach be included in the mandate of the recently established UN Office for Counter Terrorism.
The international security landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years. We are heartened to see that Secretary General Guterres has made the pursuit of peace in a conflict-torn world his overarching priority.
More than ever, we need an effective, cohesive and adaptable UN that is equipped to counter and tackle the challenges posed by terrorism and violent extremism.
Norway believes that the newly established Counter Terrorism Office headed by Under Secretary General Voronkov will give the UN more coherence and provide for better strategic leadership and external and internal communication. It will improve the UN System’s ability to implement all four pillars of the Global Counter-terrorism Strategy.
There has been too much emphasis on combating terrorism by military and security means. We must also address the root causes and upstream factors of violent extremism, and base all responses on the rule of law. The UN must appropriately balance all four pillars of the Strategy and be mindful of the strategic message that it sends.
For the UN to respond effectively to contemporary challenges, it must streamline and coordinate core activities related to conflict prevention, development, education and other fields considered essential for countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.
Countering and preventing terrorism and violent extremism require us to partner and interact with civil society and other non-governmental stakeholders. We must ensure the full and effective participation of women at all levels of society. We must ensure that no one is trapped in impoverished communities, where there is no order and no path for advancement. We must remember that youth is an integral part of the solution; the voices of our youth must be heard and respected. We must address injustices and experiences of injustices.
Let me end by briefly mentioning that Norway and Jordan are co-chairing the Group of Friends of Preventing Violent Extremism.
The Groups seeks to address the underlying conditions that drive individuals to radicalize to violence and join violent extremist groups. The purpose of the group is to promote institutionalization of PVE across the UN system: Provide political support to efforts by the new Counter Terrorism Office and other UN entities to prevent violent extremism, share lessons learned and best practices around various topics pertaining to PVE and provide a forum for discussion and coordination between UN entities, governments, civil society and other stakeholders.