Speech/statement | Date: 2015-02-19 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
'We cannot eliminate the breeding ground of the extremists unless we create jobs and opportunities for young people', said Foreign Minister Børge Brende in his speech at the Washington D.C. Summit on countering violent extremism.
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Thank you John,
Firstly, I would like to commend President Obama and yourself for taking this initiative.
From Peshawar to Paris, from Nigeria to Libya and Denmark, we are constantly being reminded of the urgency for global action – and of the homework that we all have to do.
Today’s agenda is a clear sign that a long-term and multifaceted strategy is finally being drawn up in this historic endeavour.
We all agree that military means, effective police work and strengthened intelligence efforts are necessary, but far from enough.
Violent extremism can be found in all societies.
We must address it at home – and globally.
Our research communities must come together to explore why some people are being seduced by extremists, be it in the Middle East, Africa, Europe or elsewhere.
The answers may differ from region to region, but we are bound to find some common denominators:
Lack of education, unemployment and the feeling of being left out.
Let me stress:
Being unemployed is never an excuse to employ the methods of terrorism.
Poor opportunities in life do not justify taking life.
The perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to justice.
But at the same time:
We cannot eliminate the breeding ground of the extremists unless we create jobs and opportunities for young people.
We must improve the quality of schools and expand access to education and vocational training for marginalised groups.
Also in Europe we can do more to integrate young people of diverse backgrounds – and make them feel at home.
We know from our national experience how vocational training can be a gateway into the labour market – and thus into society.
An exchange of best practices can help us all to fine-tune our mechanisms for drawing young people more effectively into vocational training.
The message of violence appeals only to the few, but if we are to prevail in this longterm struggle, we must appeal to the many.
The Taliban’s attack against a school in Peshawar – and the brutal excesses of Boko Haram – demonstrate how far these forces are willing to go to stop girls and boys being educated.
Let us fight them with education – and show them what a formidable weapon knowledge can be.
Classrooms are where young people prepare for a meaningful future; where they enable themselves to find a job and take care of their families, and perhaps even start businesses on their own.
Being able to write the script of your own life is the best remedy against extremism.
Education is also a key to job creation and economic development.
That is why the Norwegian Government has decided to double its funding of education globally by 2017, when it will reach 500 million dollars.
Vocational training will be a priority.
But in every country, there is a clear need to identify which skills and professions are in demand – and focus on these – so that job training is not followed by joblessness.
Let me also commend last year’s establishment of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund by the Global Counter Terrorism Forum.
The Forum has become a dynamic platform for developing counter-terrorism measures, and today, I pledge 600 000 dollars in support of the fund.
Radicalisation starts at home – and so must the fight against it.
There are common denominators, but every society is also different.
In addition to our global approach, we must tailor strategies to local and regional circumstances.
With this in view, I am inviting representatives from European countries later this year to a follow-up conference in Oslo, in order to make further progress before our leaders meet at the UN General Assembly.
And in June last year, the Norwegian Government adopted an action plan against radicalization and violent extremism, with a focus on comprehensive and early preventive measures.
The plan is directed at all kinds of extremism, including right-wing extremism.
One of the priorities is to prevent jihadist travel, and to contain the potential risks posed by individuals returning from conflict zones.
Teaching resources on radicalization are being developed for use in secondary schools.
The local authorities are encouraged to organise dialogue meetings for young people.
Knowing that there is a place for you in society makes you more resilient to the perverted teachings of extremists.
Our counter-messaging will not be convincing unless it is backed up by facts on the ground.
Young people must be able to see the new opportunities emerging, not just hear about them.
Responsible governments must answer to the needs of their citizens, and let them feel they have a voice.