I would like to thank the Secretary-General for the informative report on the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and recommendations on the way forward.
Terrorism and violent extremism are among the greatest security challenges of our time. It brings death and suffering to innocent people, and destruction and insecurity to whole societies and regions. No country is immune – as Norway unfortunately experienced in 2011, when struck by right-wing terrorism.
Since the Strategy was adopted by consensus in the General Assembly in 2006, the threat landscape has changed dramatically. New terrorist groups have emerged. Violent extremists are finding new ways to carry out their attacks, spread their propaganda, finance their activities and recruit people to their ranks.
The international community must adapt to this changing landscape. The UN must play a central role in our collective response to terrorism and in preventing violent extremism.
Respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of expression are fundamental values, which must be upheld if we are to successfully counter radicalization and violent extremism.
Norway believes in a balanced implementation of the Global Strategy. The Secretary General’s new Plan of Action for Preventing Violent Extremism is timely. Norway welcomes and strongly supports the plan. It gives a much-needed emphasis on Pillar 1 and 4 of the Strategy.
The plan focuses on national, regional and UN activities as drivers for positive change. It seeks to tackle conditions conducive to terrorism, and to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law. We must pursue both push and pull factors. At the same time, we must ensure that our interventions are PVE ‘specific’ and not only PVE ‘relevant’.
The plan addresses how we can effectively counter the manipulative messages of violent extremism, by advocating freedom of expression and the values of tolerance, pluralism and understanding.
These are all necessary ingredients when building peaceful and inclusive societies.
Improved coordination will help strengthening the role of the UN, ensure a balanced implementation of the Strategy and effective response to the Action Plan. We strongly believe that appointing a coordinator for counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism at the under secretary-general level would be an important step.
The Member States have the primary responsibility for implementing measures to prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism. Let me highlight some of Norway’s efforts since the last Review.
In April this year, the Norwegian Parliament adopted a White Paper on Global Security Challenges addressing terrorism, organized crime, piracy and cyber security. The plan provides a framework for Norway´s international efforts to counter terrorism and preventing violent extremism. It also addresses the nexus between these threats. In particular, threat financing and the nexus between terrorism and organized crime where terrorist organizations, often indirectly, benefit from trafficking of arms, drugs, persons and cultural artefacts, as well as illicit trade in natural resources such as oil and charcoal.
National action plans on preventing violent extremism are important tools. Norway adopted its first plan of action in 2010. The plan has since then been revised. It takes a whole-of-government approach with nine ministries involved in its implementation. The current plan is updated regularly to respond to the rapid changing landscape of threat. This approach ensures legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness.
Norway is contributing to all five lines of effort set out by the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.
ISIL is losing ground in Syria and Iraq, and their recruitment seems to be slowing down. We must increase our focus on the threat that foreign terrorist fighters pose upon returning home or traveling to other areas of instability. Thirty-four foreign terrorist fighters have returned to Norway, of whom twenty have been indicted and four have been convicted for terrorism related crimes.
In June 2015, Norway hosted a regional CVE Summit as part of President Obama’s CVE initiative. The Oslo conference paved the way for a new global alliance of women´s organizations working on preventing violent extremism. This alliance will provide an important opportunity for small grassroots organizations to have their voice heard.
Another initiative at the conference was Youth Against Violent Extremism, which gathered 200 youth workers and young activists from across Europe. Their message was strong and clear: young people’s voices must be heard when governments are forming new polices and strategies. The young people at the conference formed a network against violent extremism called YouthCAN. Prime Minister David Cameron has taken the initiative to expand the network to commonwealth countries. Today, YouthCAN has more than 500 members from eighty-five countries, and more are needed.
We asked the members of the YouthCAN network of their views on the Secretary General’s Plan of Action and Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security. They urged the international community and national governments to facilitate the convening of local and national government with youth activists working on preventing violent extremism, investing in education and training for young people, as well as supporting international youth networks that provide platforms for young people to share knowledge, projects and best practices.
Last year, the launch of the Strong Cities network highlighted the important role of local governments. It is at the local level that the drivers of violent extremism can be best addressed, and local authorities are well placed to take preventive measures. The Strong Cities network enables cities across the world to pool their resources, knowledge and best practices. Two Norwegian cities, Oslo and Kristiansand, are participating in the network, and we urge other cities to join as well.
Violent extremism is both an international security concern and a development issue.
Poverty alone is not the sole cause of violent extremism. Nevertheless, real or perceived marginalization, whether economic, social or political, is often an important element in the process of radicalization resulting in violent extremism.
We need to remember that violent extremism is an important driver for many of the world´s current conflicts. These conflicts are obstacles for social and economic development, and sometimes roll back already achieved progress and growth.
This is why sustainable development goal 16 on peaceful, just and inclusive societies is so important.
In March this year, UNDP organized a global conference in Oslo on preventing violent extremism and promoting inclusive development. The conference revealed how development actors can play a significant role.
In conclusion, Mr. President,
We must step up our efforts against terrorism and violent extremism, and urgently implement concrete measures.
The Plan of Action is a crucial part of this and the Secretary General´s ambition to reenergize the United Nations´ prevention agenda.
We need a strong UN to show global leadership. We need a UN that is fit for purpose, better coordinated and have sufficient resources to do its part.