Six Club de Madrid Members, all of them democratically elected Presidents and Prime Ministers, along with top leaders from the European Union and the United Nations, addressed the gap between development and security in the field of preventing and countering violent extremism policies. The debate, attended by around 100 participants, among them UN member states representativies, was held on Tuesday 19th in the margins of the 72th UN General Assembly.
The event was co-organized by the World Leadership Alliance – Club de Madrid and the European Commission. The former brought into the discussion the political experience and regional knowledge from its Members, Joyce Banda (Malawi), Hamadi Jebali (Tunisia), Mary Robinson (Ireland) and Danilo Turk (Slovenia). The EU was represented by an array of top officials such as Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Stefano Manservisi, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development and Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter Terrorism Coordinator.
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A video sent by the UN Secretary General and on leave Club de Madrid Member, Antonio Guterres, opened the discussions. In his message, the UNSG welcomed the efforts made by the Club de Madrid and the European Commission addressing the clear links between security and development. Guterres highlighted the importance of the Agenda 2030, our “shared plan to give peace and prosperity for all in a healthy planet and also stressed the fact that “when people feel excluded, frustration can tend to radicalization”.
The panelists addressed the need for concrete actions and the strengthening of the cooperation between the different actors to “walk up the peace”. Commissioner Mimica stressed the undeniable connection between peace and development, as the best way to achieve development is through peace building. According to the Commissioner, the new consensus in the EU on the importance of development requires a significant increase in the financial support, but also having in mind that “the debate about security and development is about people, is about their right to live in safety, dignity and prosperity”.
In this sense, Club de Madrid Member Zlatko Lagumdzija advocated for Shared Societies as an effective tool for preventing violent extremism, considering that in such societies diversity is a major asset and not a threat. Another European Member, Mary Robinson, introduced the need for climate change justice and action as a fundamental input into the discussion “not just because it is my passion but also because it brings peace and stability”, while Joyce Banda brought the African perspective remarking that job creation for youth and women, as well as their participation in political processes, is a critical tool for preventing violent extremism.
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