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European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
EU intervention at the Strengthening Multilateral Engagement on Countering Violent Extremism
United Nations General Assembly
New York,23 September 2014
It is an honour and a pleasure for me to speak on behalf of the European Union at this high-level event on community engagement and countering violent extremism (CVE). I would first like to thank the two co-hosts, the Foreign Minister of Mali Abdoulye Diop and the Foreign Minister of Denmark Martin Lidegaard for their joint initiative to host this important event. Let me also express our sincere appreciation to Danish Minister Lidegaard, for our excellent and close collaboration with the Danish Foreign Ministry on counter terrorism related matters.
This timely event takes place at a crucial moment, as we are engaging in discussion at the UN and with the Global Counterterrorism Forum on two urgent and interrelated threats to international peace and security: the phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters and the radicalisation of vulnerable people, most notably youth.
The phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters is a central concern for the EU and its Member States, as a large number of European nationals are estimated to have joined the ranks of jihadists and are actively engaged in theatres of conflict in the Middle East (especially Syria and Iraq), the Horn of Africa and beyond.
We have sadly already seen that individual fighters have become further radicalized and we are closely watching the phenomenon of such individuals hardened from their violent exposure to radicalisation messages and to return home with the dangerous delusion that they are part of a wider terrorist movement. We therefore welcome efforts at the multilateral level that spur all of us to take necessary measures to prevent as well as criminalise the mobility and safe harbour of identified foreign terrorist fighters. This builds upon our own initiatives to counter this threat and support efforts to engage with partners not just at the government or intergovernmental level, but also at the community level.
For the EU, radicalisation and recruitment to terrorism is a key global challenge underscored by the abhorrent current atrocities that are occurring in Syria and Iraq. Countering violent extremism (CVE) is therefore a key priority for all of us.
The EU undertook many efforts on CVE both internally and in international fora, and we just revised our own strategy on radicalisation and recruitment of terrorism. The existing Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) is providing a good tool to assist local practitioners and to facilitate the exchange of experiences and best practices between them. RAN is developing well and has now managed to create a Knowledge Hub to foster cooperation on CVE issues among experts.
Online radicalization is a particular challenge. Engagement with the private sector – especially Internet Service Providers – remains essential. More broadly, the challenge of radicalization cannot be met by governments alone. There is a need to engage more with communities and local actors.
The EU became a crucial supporter in assisting third countries' efforts in countering violent extremism and in promotion international and regional cooperation addressing radicalisation and recruitment to terrorism. Currently we support a whole range of different CVE programmes worldwide to a tune of more than 25 million € both on a short- and long-term basis.
The EU welcomes the fact that the UN Secretary General highlighted the need to do more in addressing the conditions conducive to terrorism and prevention of terrorism. The EU also fully supports the strong engagement of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF), on CVE in particular, via its different working groups and two specific initiatives, the Hedayah Center in Abu Dhabi and the Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience/GCERF.
On Hedayah, the EU is grateful to the United Arab Emirates for its support in establishing this Centre of Excellence in Abu Dhabi, where EU has also committed 5 million € to support its world-wide activities.
On the Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience (GCERF), the EU welcomes progress made and thanks Switzerland for its commitment hosting its interim secretariat. I am happy to announce that the EU will financially support GCERF activities with 2 million € this year and aims to contribute additional 3 million € next year.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The EU will continue to be a keen supporter of CVE activities at all levels – bilateral, regional and multilateral. In this context, let me mention two good examples on our activities on Strengthening Resilience to Violence and Extremism:
1. in the Horn of Africa we aim at developing best practices for countering violent extremism. A 2 million € project focuses on EU-born youth in Somaliland; empowering women on CVE in Punt land and Somaliland; training for security sector and law enforcement in the entire region; and identifying drivers for youth extremism in Kenya.
2. in Pakistan, the EU project (5 million €) seeks to reinforce government, media and civil society capacities to countering violent radicalization at provincial and federal levels.
To note that we are organising a European Commission hosted event on foreign terrorist fighters with the Swiss and UN counter terrorism executive directorate (CTED) to be held on 25-27 November in Brussels. This event will focus on countries from the eastern and southern neighbourhood.
The real challenge now is to make CVE actions really effective on the ground, especially at the community level, taking into account current efforts and results. In this way aligning our regional and international CVE efforts is essential. Current actions improving the coordination on relevant capacity building efforts, addressing the nexus of development and security in tackling the conditions conducive to terrorism and support to local communities could serve as inspiration for the future.
Finally, I am confident that this high-level CVE Event will provide valuable input to the current discussions on Foreign Terrorist Fighters and related aspects of countering violent extremism.
Thank you for your attention.