Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism

Statement by Prime Minister Erna Solberg, UN, New York, 29 September 2015.

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Mr President, Secretary-General, Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for this opportunity to speak about violent extremism. It is one of the greatest security challenges of our time. Violent extremism brings death and suffering to innocent people. It brings destruction and insecurity to whole societies and regions. And it is on the rise worldwide.

The unprecedented brutality of ISIL, its political intentions and territorial ambitions pose a grave threat to us all, and not only in the Middle East. In Nigeria and its neighbouring countries, Boko Haram is continuing to terrorise, kill and kidnap people, spreading insecurity throughout the region.

Our goal must be clear. Violent extremism must be defeated. We must work together to combat violent extremism and eradicate its roots: the conditions and attitudes that allow such forces to exist and grow.

Each and every one of us can make a difference. We need to mobilise civil society, young people, women, faith leaders, local communities, and governments. We need a concerted effort to prevent and counter violent extremism. Last year we launched our national action plan against radicalisation. It involves local communities, civil society organisations and nine different government departments. The work against radicalisation has to transcend silos.

Poverty and a lack of opportunities are often said to be the root causes of violent extremism. This is a grave oversimplification. It does not sufficiently explain the complex range of factors that motivate people to commit terrorist acts. We must, however, recognise that the risk of people being drawn to violent groups increases in areas where there are few other opportunities. This is particularly true for young people.

Reconciliation processes in fragile, post-conflict areas often play a key role in preventing or reducing violent extremism. Lasting peace is impossible without inclusive reconciliation processes that encompass all groups of society – irrespective of their ethnic, social or religious affiliations.

But let me be very clear: there can be no excuse for violent extremist actions. Violent extremism is illegitimate and unacceptable. The perpetrators must always be held accountable.

On 22 July 2011, Norway experienced a terrorist attack on the main government building. Later that day, a youth camp at Utøya was brutally attacked. Many young women and men lost their lives. What we saw in the aftermath was an incredible engagement and commitment from our youth – across all political dividing lines.

We know that there are groups out there who are willing to cynically exploit vulnerable people, particularly young people. Young people must be involved in the governance and development of our societies if we want to prevent them being recruited to violent extremism.

This was clearly expressed at the Youth Against Violent Extremism event at the European Conference on Countering Violent Extremism in Oslo in June. And it was highlighted once again at the Global Youth Summit in New York yesterday.

An independent European Youth Network against violent extremism was launched in Oslo in June. We hope this will grow into a global network. And we hope you will all find it a useful partner in developing your own plans to stop violent extremism.

Last year, the Security Council adopted resolution 2178, which calls for the promotion of women’s empowerment as part of the work to counter violent extremism. Extremists also understand the power of women, so they want them on their side. At the same time they attack women’s rights and silence women who offer an alternative vision of society. But it is exactly these voices that must be heard. Therefore, I warmly welcome and support the new alliance of women’s organisations against violent extremism.

As new forms of violent extremism emerge, new knowledge is needed. We must improve our ability to share the information we already have. But we also need more research to shed new light on the local drivers of extremism.

It is at the local level that the drivers of violent extremism can most easily be understood. Here, local communities and authorities have a key role to play. The newly established ‘Strong Cities’ network will enable cities across the world to pool their resources, knowledge and best practices.

We must also strengthen international cooperation. Norway has launched a new development aid programme to prevent and counter violent extremism.

We welcome the Secretary-General’s initiative to draw up a new action plan to prevent violent extremism. This will complement Security Council resolution 2178, which currently underpins international efforts to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters.

Norway is contributing to all five lines of effort set out by the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. The Norwegian military contingent is now fully deployed in Iraq, we are helping to stem the flow of financial resources and foreign terrorist fighters, working to counter ISIL’s propaganda, and helping to stabilise areas in Iraq. We are also providing humanitarian assistance.

Let me round off by quoting Ibrahim Abukar, a young Norwegian-Somali man who spoke at the Youth Conference in Oslo, ‘what happens in a small corner of the world will affect all of us – so let’s start working together’. From the individual level to the governmental level, everybody can make a difference. And it is imperative that we all intensify our efforts. Only through joint efforts and increased cooperation at all levels will we be successful in our fight against violent extremism.

Thank you.