On June 3rd, 2016 the President of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in partnership with The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) hosted a High Level Thematic Conversation (HLTC) on Children and Youth Affected by Violent Extremism. The Conversation was a step towards UN’s mission to increase its efforts to offset the rise of violent extremism. The panel allowed for key stakeholders to discuss the “push and pull” factors that may lead to radicalization and violent extremism, in addition to outlining good practices which can augment social integration of children and youth who are involved in such dangerous situations.
The President of the 70th session of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, opened the session by admitting that the topic of the conversation is very difficult and touches many who have children and grandchildren of their own. Thus, he admitted, “…it is frightening to think that at any given moment, our youngest people could have their lives, hopes and futures so deeply affected by violent extremism.” According to Mr. Lykketoft the conversation should serve as an opportunity for UN Member States to advance their methods on dealing with violent extremism when it comes to youth.
The event was held at the UN Headquarters in New York and included four panel discussions which aimed to outline varying threats of violent extremism and how they target the younger members of the society. In addition the panels aimed to provide methods for preventing violent extremism with a special focus on children and youth. The conversation was a continuation of a discussion started under the Jordanian Presidency of the Security Council which adopted resolution 2250(2015) on youth, peace and security.
Also speaking at the event was the UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, who pointed out that 46% of the world’s population is under 25 years of age, making young people disproportionately vulnerable to violent extremism, which in a face of desperate times, offers them “a salary, a sense of belonging, and a promise of glory.” However, it is important to note that most young people are law abiding citizens who have dreams of a more peaceful, secure future, thus given the opportunity they will work towards building such a society.
As mentioned above, involved in the event was Club de Madrid’s partner and co-organizer of the Policy Dialogue “Madrid +10: Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism,” ICSR. Together with ICSR, Club de Madrid´s Policy Dialogue led to the publication of the Global Consensus, which is a brief and focused document spelling out the common values, assumptions and principles that stand the best chance of achieving real, sustainable progress in the fight against violent extremism. These efforts are crucial in providing a comprehensive, long term plan for countering radicalization, and as Mr. Eliasson said during the HLTC, “We must better and more effectively communicate our common values of peace and justice. We must stand together against the intolerance and hatred which is spread by extremist groups.”