09.05.2017 - ODG

UNESCO upfront in the new drive for UN Global Action to Prevent Violent Extremism

On 5 May, 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, participated in the High Level Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) Action Group, chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, gathering Principals of all concerned UN entities to discuss areas of action and explore future collaborative efforts in this vital field.

Following General Assembly Resolution 70/291 -- which “encourage[d] United Nations entities, in line with their mandates, to implement relevant recommendations of the Plan of Action, including by providing technical assistance to Member States upon their request” -- the High-level PVE Action Group was established to spearhead the implementation of the United Nations PVE Plan of Action (A/70/674-A/70/675) both at United Nations Headquarters and in the field through a coherent and coordinated “All-of-UN” approach. 

This was the first meeting chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General, and a key opportunity to underline his priority focus on prevention in all UN action to strengthen the foundations for sustainable peace and development. He pointed to the importance of PVE in this respect, in particular to address the root causes of conflict and the radicalisation leading to violent extremism, and called for more integrated approaches, across all pillars, drawing on the experience and strengths of all parts of the UN system, to support Governments and societies in achieving their goals.

This meeting took place in the context of the advanced discussion between Member States on measures to strengthen UN action in counter terrorism, as presented in the recent Report by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on the “Capability of the United Nations system to assist Member States in implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy” – in line with General Assembly Resolution 70/291 adopted on 1st July 2016.

This was an opportunity to review efforts across the UN system to implement the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism – with a focus on supporting Governments, a focus on developing national PVE plans and national ownership, and with youth engagement as a cross-cutting priority.

In the mapping exercise of PVE programmes at headquarters and in the field across the UN family, UNESCO is leading in the UN system, with actions at the global, regional and national levels.

“All of this is part of UNESCO’s contribution to the surge for peace called for by the Secretary-General, “ said Irina Bokova, “with a focus on prevention, on empowering youth with skills for jobs, with skills for cultural literacy, on strengthening the resilience of societies.”

The Director-General reviewed the wide range of actions led by UNESCO at every levels – starting with support to educations systems and planning, resources for teachers and training, as well as a focus on technical and vocational education and training.

 “This is our leadership of Sustainable Development Goal 4, including to advance global citizenship education, because we know prevention starts on the benches of schools.”

Irina Bokova pointed to UNESCO’s work on building a clearing-house of best practices on global citizenship education, and in disseminating policy guidelines for PVE. She underlined UNESCO’s action at the regional level, notably through the NetMed Youth project, with 10 countries around the Mediterranean. UNESCO’s action to protect humanity’s cultural heritage was also essential, she said – referring to the reconstruction of the mausoleums of Timbuktu, Mali, and UNESCO’s leadership with UNODC and all relevant partners to take forward United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199, to halt the illicit trafficking of cultural goods, a factor of financing for terrorism. The Director-General also highlighted UNESCO’s leadership in strengthening action to prevent the radicalization of young people over the Internet – through groundbreaking international conferences in Paris (2015) and in Quebec, Canada (2016), as well as through a global social media campaign -- #Unite4Heirtage.

 “We need precisely such collaborative efforts, led at every level, bringing along governments as well as civil society and all media,” said Irina Bokova.

 The Secretary-General thanked all participants for their contribution, calling for ever more integrated action, to make a real difference on the ground, in support of Governments and societies.   

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