7690th Security Council Meeting: Countering Terrorist Ideologies - Part 2

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11-May-2016 02:40:07
Security Council presidential statement seeks Counter-Terrorism Committee proposal for ‘International framework’ to curb incitement and recruitment, at 7690th meeting.

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Deputy Secretary-General, Islamic Scholar, Microsoft Executive Launch Day-long Open Debate on Countering Terrorist Narratives.

Holding a day-long open debate on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, the Security Council today requested that the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee present a proposal for a “comprehensive international framework” to counter terrorist narratives used in recruitment and incitement to violent acts.

The request was contained in a presidential statement issued by the 15-member Council, which called, specifically, for the Committee to recommend guidelines and good practices to that end by 30 April 2017. The Council noted with concern that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities crafted distorted narratives based on misinterpretation and misrepresentation of religion to justify violence.

It proposed that the international community consider a number of concrete actions, such as developing a counter-narrative campaign to encourage and amplify those actively denouncing terrorism. Other proposed actions included developing the most effective means to counter terrorist propaganda, incitement and recruitment, including through the Internet, and raising public awareness of counter-terrorist narratives, including through education.

In opening remarks before the debate, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said terrorists were exploiting religious beliefs in order to incite hatred and violence, while dividing and polarizing societies. “Terrorist bombs aim to devastate more than human lives,” he said, adding that they also targeted humanity’s common values and sought to spread fear.

Mohi el-Din Afifi, Secretary-General of Al Azhar Islamic Research Academy, said the grim realities of the Middle East had surpassed all limits of religion and morals, with crimes being perpetrated in the name of Islam. The media had distorted that notion, he noted, emphasizing that, in reality, such crimes bore no relation to religious or human traditions.

Also addressing the Council, Steve Crown, Vice-President and Deputy General Counsel of the Microsoft Corporation, emphasized that technology would be used either for good or evil, noting that the industry was united in working to address terrorist abuses of its services.

More than 70 speakers took the floor during the day-long debate, with many expressing support for the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, presented to the General Assembly in January. Some described national approaches to combating extremist ideologies, while underscoring that no single country could succeed on its own, given the scale and nature of the threat.

“To defeat a network, we need a network,” said the United Kingdom’s representative, joining the plurality of voices calling for technology companies to become partners in helping to shut down the cyberspace front lines of terrorist recruitment and incitement. Urging all States to implement the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action, he commended partnerships attacking Da’esh propaganda, including one multilateral effort using Twitter as a platform.

Malaysia’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs rejected any association of terrorism with any one religion, nationality or ethic group, emphasizing nevertheless that, “as Muslims, we should not be in denial”. There was a critical need to address the exploitation of Islam by terrorist groups. True Muslims did not accept ideologies espousing hatred, wanton violence and destruction.

Kuwait’s representative echoed that sentiment on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), saying the organization was extremely disturbed that terrorist groups were increasingly exploiting cyber platforms to spread their messages of hate and disseminate their distorted interpretations of the Holy Quran. It was of the utmost importance that States shut down such media platforms while also engaging communities in countering terrorist narratives and propaganda.

In similar vein, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs spotlighted a number of her country’s efforts to counter online terrorist recruitment. They included YouTube having taken down 14 million videos since 2014, Facebook having received and reviewed 1 million user notifications per week about violations of its rules and Twitter having recently closed about 2,000 ISIL-related accounts.

The Russian Federation’s representative emphasized the importance of a Security Council free of double standards and that did not distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists, saying it was fundamentally important that it focus on combating radicalization and incitement to terrorism.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s representative blamed violent foreign interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria for having crippled and collapsed the political systems in those countries, saying the resulting vacuums had allowed extremists to move in. As a result, entire societies had known no way of life other than war for the last 15 years, and their economies, ravaged by interventionist forces, had eradicated hope for young generations, he noted.

Senegal’s representative warned that the Sahara/Sahel region faced terrorism, fuelled by ignorance and poverty, which was attempting to take hold of whole swathes of territory while undermining existing States. Following the bloody attacks that had struck West Africa, States of the subregion had met to strengthen relations among their respective security services, among other measures.

It was those very youth, many speakers noted, who could play a proactive role in countering violent extremism, with a number of them pointing to sustainable development and good governance as means by which to address the root causes of violent extremism, including poverty, disenfranchisement and economic marginalization — particularly among young people.

Also speaking today were ministers and other high-ranking officials representing Egypt, New Zealand, United States, Spain, Japan, China, France, Ukraine, Angola, Uruguay, Netherlands, Argentina, Sweden, Somalia, Italy, Maldives, Denmark, Iraq, Israel, Colombia, Pakistan, India, Brazil, Iran, Indonesia, Belgium, Syria, Germany, Australia, South Africa, Norway, Canada, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Qatar, Georgia, United Arab Emirates, Peru, Djibouti, Costa Rica, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Cambodia, Thailand (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Poland, Sudan, Cuba, Slovenia, Montenegro, Cyprus, Afghanistan, Haiti, Bahrain and Myanmar, as well as the Holy See, State of Palestine, European Union, International Organization of La Francophonie and the League of Arab States.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 7:50 p.m.
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