"Security first" approach to violent extremism won't work: UN

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Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. UN File Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre

A global response to violent extremism that respects human rights will be more effective in the long run than heavy-handed "security-first" measures, United Nations member states heard on Thursday.

Speaking at the UN in Geneva, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore, said that promoting equality and non-discrimination were key ways to counter the threat.

And echoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's new Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, Ms Gilmore also insisted on accountability for human rights violations.

Here's Daniel  Johnson in Geneva.

A new global approach is "urgently needed" to tackle violent extremism, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore said.

That's because an overly repressive response to it -  the so-called "security-first" approach -  had only made matters worse in recent years, she told the Human Rights Council.

"The negative impact of heavy-handed counter-terrorism responses in the years following 9/11, have widened the rift between communities, deepened distrust and generated divisive, often hateful, public discourse."

The Deputy High Commissioner's comments followed a recorded video message to the Geneva assembly by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in which he said that countering violent extremism needed to avoid "sweeping definitions" that encroached on human rights.

In light of the threat to society posed by extremism today, it is more important than ever to respect freedom of religion, belief and opinion, Kate Gilmore said.

At the same time, civil society's role in voicing the concerns of all people should also be promoted, the aim being to avoid what Gilmore called the "toxic toll" of marginalization.

The Deputy High Commissioner also highlighted that while states are legally responsible for the way they tackle violent extremism, this accountability is in fact the way they will foster public trust.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’16″

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