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UN Secretary General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism

Friday 22nd of January 2016
Juvenile Justice in the world

On 16 January 2016, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon presented before the General Assembly his Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. In this document, the Secretary General talks about the conditions and processes that often lead to radicalisation and violent extremism, and lays out 70 recommendations to address this phenomenon, while upholding the rule of law and respecting human rights.

This 22 page document reaffirms the four pillars of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in its resolution 60/288: (a) tackling conditions conducive to terrorism; (b) preventing and combating terrorism; (c) building countries’ capacity to combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in that regard; and (d) ensuring respect for human rights for all, and the rule of law, while countering terrorism. The document puts a strong emphasis on pillars (a) and (d), as can be observed from the agenda, which makes prevention an integral part of the UN’s counter-terrorism approach.

The Plan recommends taking action within a comprehensive strategy, and, as such, provides recommendations on seven priority areas on which to take action: Dialogue and Conflict Prevention; Strengthening Good Governance, Human Rights and the Rule of Law; Engaging Communities; Empowering Youth; Gender Equality and Empowering Women; Education, Skills Development and Employment Facilitation; Strategic Communications, the Internet and Social Media.

The recommendations in the “Empowering Youth” priority area mostly concern youth participation in social and political life, and the need to support them in developing their own ideas and projects on strengthening community resilience against violent extremism, including the online realm. In this sense, the plan recommends actions such as: promoting young people’s participation in prevention strategies to counter violent extremism; involving them in the decision-making process by offering them a platform in which to participate in political discourse; promoting intergenerational dialogue; promoting mentoring programmes, involving young people from marginalised groups; and increasing funding for institutions that work with youth, as well as for young entrepreneurs from marginalised backgrounds.

The prevention of youth radicalisation is addressed throughout the whole document when tackling different factors that have an impact on this phenomenon, such as education, employment, or the Internet. The action plan discusses detention measures and points to scientific evidence that shows that that there is a link between poor detention conditions, such as overcrowding and excessive confinement, and the risk of radicalisation of those who suffer these conditions.

The Action Plan concludes with an appeal for concerted action, calling on all Member States to use the General Assembly to send forth a resounding appeal for unity and action. The Action Plan recommends the setting up of a policy framework on different levels: global, national and regional.

The prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism holds an important place in the fulfilment of the IJJO’s mission, and therefore we welcome this Action Plan and its efforts to provide guidelines for all stakeholders, so as to work in their respective areas of impact and to coordinate efforts against this evolving phenomenon and the causes that lead to it. We would like to specifically commend its youth and gender components, as well as the attention paid to the conditions of deprivation of liberty measures for people in conflict with the law.

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