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02.06.2017 - ODG

UN Security Council underlines UNESCO’s role in Preventing Violent Extremism

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, establishing a new “Comprehensive international framework to counter terrorist narratives,” drawing on the proposal from the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC).

“I see this Resolution as clear recognition by Member States of the leading role that UNESCO is playing in the struggle to prevent violent extremism,” said Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General. “Turbulent times give sharp new meaning to UNESCO’s action to build the defenses of peace in the minds of women and men, especially young women and men, through education, culture, communication and information.”

Resolution 2354, adopted last week, was co-sponsored by 60 UN Member States. It requests CTC to “work with UNESCO, UNDP and other relevant United Nations agencies, through Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) working groups, to promote appropriate education-based efforts to recognize and prevent radicalization to violence and recruitment to terrorist groups.”

In 2015, UNESCO Member States adopted the landmark decision 197 EX/46, to enhance the Organization’s capacity to provide assistance to countries as they develop strategies to prevent violent extremism, drawing across all UNESCO’s fields of competence.

To this end, UNESCO is leading in promoting global citizenship education, through guidelines for teachers and policy planners, as well as through capacity building in countries across the world. This work builds on close partnerships, including the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development and the Asia-Pacific Center of Education for International Understanding.

As violent extremist groups are ever more effective in using Internet and social media to promote hatred and violence, UNESCO works through concrete initiatives to foster youth empowerment through information and communication technologies, along with critical thinking, tolerance and respect for universal values. Equipping young people with Media and Information Literacy skills is essential to become more resilient to manipulation.

UNESCO led the first-ever international conference on “Youth and the Internet: Fighting Radicalization and Extremism” in 2015, in the framework of its Information for All Programme, when the Organization launched its cross-sectoral initiative “A New Integrated Framework of Action - Empowering Youth to Build Peace: Youth 2.0 – Building Skills, Bolstering Peace.”

This was followed in 2016 by the International Conference, "Internet and Radicalization of Youth: Prevent, Act and Live Together", co-organized by UNESCO and the Government of Québec, with the support by the Government of Canada, held in Quebec in 2016, which resulted in the Call of Quebec.

These goals underpin UNESCO’s Operational Strategy on Youth (2014-2021), contributing to taking forward Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security. In concrete terms, UNESCO’s EU-funded NET-MED Youth project works for youth empowerment through skills and civic participation in ten countries around the Mediterranean.

This takes in all UNESCO’s work to spearhead  implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2347 on the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict, as well as UN Security Council Resolution 2199, which includes legally-binding measures to counter the illicit trafficking of artefacts from Iraq and Syria.

Building positive counter-narratives to violent extremism is essential. The #Unite4Heritage campaign is a global movement powered by UNESCO, engaging counter narratives rooted in heritage values, human rights and the respect for cultural diversity. The campaign, launched by the Director-General in Baghdad in March 2015, calls on everyone to stand up against intolerance and hatred, to celebrate the places, objects, cultural traditions and shared values that make the world such a rich and vibrant place.

In all this, UNESCO acts to take forward the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, launched in January 2016. “All this is part of UNESCO’s action to sustain peace through long-term action to prevent threats and conflicts,” said Irina Bokova. “I welcome this Resolution and pledge that UNESCO will redouble all its efforts to lead this struggle for peace.”

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