Countering terrorism by building a culture of peace through education, press freedom and human rights
World leaders called for a comprehensive global strategy on counter-terrorism cooperation Monday, 19 September 2011, during a high-level symposium on the margins of the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General's Symposium on International Counter-terrorism Cooperation, the first in a series of high-level events in New York this week, was attended by some 500 representatives of United Nations Member States, UN officials, international and regional organizations, civil society and international media.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova chaired a session of the symposium on “Promoting dialogue, understanding and countering the appeal of terrorism” with the participation of eminent speakers such as Ms Roza Otunbaeva, President of Kyrgyzstan, Mr Mohamed Kamel Ali Amr, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Egypt, Ms Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan and Ms Theresa May, MP Home Secretary, United Kingdom.
“Preventing radicalism and extremist violence begins by giving everyone a stake in the present and confidence in the future,” Irina Bokova said in her introduction to the session. “It must be built on the bridges of dialogue between cultures and between faiths, to deepen understanding and respect. It begins with education for all, with textbooks and curricula that teach human rights and schools systems that are peaceful and tolerant. It starts with independent and pluralistic journalism, with media that is inclusive and responsive. It must begin with young women and men, whose voices are heard and whose energy channelled for rights and dignity. Tackling the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism requires a new culture of peace.”
In his opening remarks to the symposium, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the creation of a UN Centre for Counter Terrorism (UNCCT). Saudi Arabia will contribute $10 million over the next three years to set up the centre, which will be based in New York and support the implementation of the strategy, as well as foster international cooperation, strengthen individual countries’ capacity-building efforts and build up a database of best practices to counter terrorism.
“What I see here today is the start of a new era in counterterrorism cooperation," Ban said. "States recognize that they cannot do it alone." He added, “Let us chart a course that reflects our determination to defeat terrorism and build a safer, more just and peaceful world for all.”