Speech/statement | Date: 23/05/2018 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By Minister of International Development Nikolai Astrup (Fornebu, 23 May)
Minister of International Development Nikolai Astrup's opening address at the UNDP conference "Assessing Progress made, and the Future of Development Approaches to Preventing Violent Extremism".
I am delighted to welcome you all to Oslo to this second global meeting on Preventing Violent Extremism.
I would like to give a special welcome to Mr Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Mr Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary General of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, and Ms Somia Okoued, State Minister of International Cooperation of Sudan.
Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, sends her warmest wishes for the conference. She very much regrets not being able to attend due to commitments in Brussels.
Let me start by thanking the UNDP Oslo Governance Centre for putting together such a comprehensive agenda.
The Norwegian Government is deeply committed to the prevention of violent extremism. We have expressed our strong support for the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism since its establishment last year. I am therefore pleased to announce that Norway will contribute 10 million Norwegian kroner to the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism for the 2018-2021 period, in partnership with UNDP.
In our view, the UN must play a central role in the international efforts to prevent violent extremism. This is a long-term effort that will require a lot of resources. We need to take a whole of government approach. We therefore believe it will be essential that the UN family work closely together, and is well-coordinated and consistent in its work.
Let me highlight what the Norwegian Government considers to be four key points:
First, the importance of the rule of law.
The rule of law at the national and international level is essential for sustainable peace and long-term development. We need effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.
SDG 16 underpins our work in this area. Poverty reduction, stability, and social cohesion are core principles. The rule of law and the prevention of violent extremism are mutually reinforcing.
If we are to succeed in preventing violent extremism, we must also highlight the positive effects this will have, and the values we stand for. We need to create positive narratives that people can relate to, comprehend and be inspired by.
UNDP has a central role in the UN's global development and governance work, which is underpinned by SDG 16. Norway believes that UNDP has a comparative advantage when it comes to promoting democratic governance and supporting conflict prevention and state-building in fragile contexts.
Second, the interdependence of security and development.
Security policy, foreign policy and development policy complement one another. It can be argued that without security, there can be no development, and without development, there can be no security.
Somalia's Minister of Finance underlined this wuite clearly when we spoke in Washington DC a few weeks ago when he said: "Al Shabab feeds on unemployment".
It is therefore vital that we view development and security as a parts of a whole, and that we work simultaneously and across all sectors to prevent violent extremism.
However, it is sometimes difficult to strike the right balance between the need for development assistance and the need for security. Security measures can be both a necessity and a precondition for receiving development assistance. But we must also acknowledge that, if these measures are not applied in the context of the rule of law, they can also be counter-productive, and at worst, encourage violent extremism.
Third, the importance of integrating the gender dimension into a comprehensive, whole-of-society approach.
Women and girls must be included in a whole-of-society approach. Women constitute at least half of the population, and in conflict areas the proportion is even higher. Leaving women out is therefore both unwise and unjust.
We need everyone to participate in efforts to combat violent extremism, and to use the experience and comparative advantages that their gender and age provide.
Women and girls are often portrayed as victims, but this is not always the case. Women are often carers, but they may also be perpetrators of violence. And they can be powerful mediators and influential peacemakers.
We need to take a multi-disciplinary and multi-level approach in order to prevent violent extremism. This brings me to my fourth and last point, cooperation.
We are all affected by the negative impacts of violent extremism and the threats it poses. We believe that the UN development system has an important role to play in the prevention of violent extremism, through its work to promote democratic governance, job creation and education.
Norway is delighted that UNDP and the Office of Counter-Terrorism will be using this occasion to sign an MoU formalising cooperation on preventing violent extremism, and underlining the importance of a whole-of-UN approach.
The UN should work with national, regional and multilateral partners on specific interventions that are tailored to the needs of each country.
Engagement with religious leaders is important, as is strengthening resilience, not least by focusing on young people and women.
The 2030 Agenda, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the world adopted in 2015, gives us a new approach to development. In order to meet the SDGs, all countries must take ownership of their challenges, and use their resources to address them in the best possible way. Furthermore, the SDGs imply mutual cooperation and real partnership.
We have a shared responsibility to tackle global security challenges such as violent extremism, and every country has a responsibility to contribute to sustainable development.
Let me round off by stressing that Norway is committed to the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. The UN Group of Friends of Preventing Violent Extremism, established by Norway and Jordan in 2017, reflects our strong commitment to preventing and addressing the underlying drivers of terrorism and violent extremism. I would like to thank you all for your support.
We continue to push for the increased inclusion of civil society. At the domestic level, Norway's efforts to prevent violent extremism involve the whole Government.
It is very encouraging to see such broad participation from all over the world at this meeting here today. Policy makers, representatives of civil society, youth representatives and key experts on preventing violent extremism are all gathered here in this room. This is a testament to the level of global engagement to prevent violent extremism in all its forms.
You are the experts and we are here to take advice from you. I wish you a successful and fruitful conference.