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UN Plan of Action to Counter Violent Extremism (p. 12 - 22)

Today is part 2 of our review of the UN Plan of Action to Counter Violent Extremism. Click here to read the rest of the document:

National plans of action for preventing violent extremism

44. Each Member State should consider developing a national plan of action to prevent violent extremism which sets national priorities for addressing the local drivers of violent extremism and complements national counter-terrorism strategies where they already exist. Based on the principle of national ownership and in accordance with international law, Member States may wish to consider the following elements in establishing such plans:

(a) National plans should be developed in a multidisciplinary manner, to include countering and preventing violent extremism measures, with input from a wide range of government actors, such as law enforcement, social service providers and ministries of education, youth and religious affairs, as well as non-governmental actors, including youth; families; women; religious, cultural and educational leaders; civil society organizations; the media; and the private sector. Analyses of local and national drivers of violent extremism form an important point of departure for developing national plans;

(b) National plans should fortify the social compact against violent extremism by promoting respect for the principle of equality before the law and equal protection under the law in all government-citizen relations, and developing effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels, as well as ensuring responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making. I encourage parliamentarians to provide the legislative foundation for national plans of action for preventing violent extremism consistent with their national and international obligations, where necessary;

(c) National plans should address the issue of foreign terrorist fighters, as called for in Security Council resolution 2178 (2014). In that resolution, the Council decided that States should ensure that their legal systems provide for the prosecution of travel for terrorism or related training; and that States should also address the financing or facilitation of such activities and prevent entry or transit through their territories, including through the usage of internationally accepted databases, of any individual with respect to whom there is credible information that provides reasonable grounds for believing that this travel is undertaken for the purpose of participating in a terrorist act. The guiding principles on stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters agreed at the special meeting of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism, held in Madrid on 28 July 2015, could be useful in this regard;

(d) National plans should prevent violent extremist and terrorist groups from trading in oil and antiquities, hostage-taking, and receiving donations, in line with Member States’ obligations under Security Council resolution 2199 (2015);

(e) One means of addressing many of the drivers of violent extremism will be to align national development policies with the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically ending poverty in all its forms everywhere (Goal 1); ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all (Goal 4); achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls (Goal 5); promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all (Goal 8); reducing inequality within and among countries (Goal 10); making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (Goal 11); and promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels (Goal 16);

(f) National plans should dedicate funding for implementation by government and non-governmental entities and promote public-private partnerships, where applicable;

(g) Effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for these plans are essential to ensuring that policies are having the desired impact.


Dialogue and conflict prevention

49. In my report to the Security Council entitled “The United Nations and conflict prevention: a collective recommitment” (S/2015/730), I noted that the risk of violent extremism often increases in the same conditions that lead to heightened risk of conflict. Where conflict already exists, we must redouble our efforts to promote and sustain dialogue between warring parties, since persistent unresolved conflict is proving to be a major driver of violent extremism. While we may benefit in these situations from using some of the tools already developed to prevent conflict, we have also started developing specific initiatives for the prevention of violent extremism through the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre, such as a Task Force working group on the prevention of violent extremism and a Task Force working group on the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and a regional youth engagement and skills development programme. I therefore recommend that Member States:

(a) Ensure that, in circumstances where military action becomes necessary to counter the expansion of violent extremist groups, any such response is in full compliance with international law, in particular with the Charter of the United Nations, international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law;

(b) Engage opposing parties and regional actors earlier on and seek to forge international consensus so as to give regional and United Nations diplomacy the leverage that it needs to broker solutions. Delaying engagement reduces options, and increases financial and human costs;

(c) Encourage individuals to leave violent extremist groups by developing programmes that place an emphasis on providing them with educational and economic opportunities. To avert perceptions of injustice which might result from extending assistance to these perpetrators, such programmes should not draw from initiatives addressing the needs of the wider civilian population;

(d) Explore opportunities to introduce alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as mediation, arbitration and restorative justice, to resolve conflict and achieve sustainable peace;

(e) Engage religious leaders to provide a platform for intra- and interfaith dialogue and discussions through which to promote tolerance and understanding between communities, and voice their rejection of violent doctrines by emphasizing the peaceful and humanitarian values inherent in their theologies. Religious leaders also have a responsibility to themselves to seek such understanding. Tolerance is not passive: it demands the active choice to reach out on a basis of mutual understanding and respect, especially where disagreement exists;

(f) Preserve the heritage of cultural and religious diversity against the attempts by violent extremists to destroy manuscripts, objects and sites that are symbols of pluralism and tolerance;

(g) Convene regional and national dialogues on preventing violent extremism with a range of actors, encompassing youth engagement, gender equality, the inclusion of marginalized groups, the role of municipalities, and positive outreach through social media and other virtual platforms.

Join the discussion on the counterterrorism priorities and methods spelled out in the second half of this document at the forum:

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