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European Conference on Countrering Violent Extremism

Oslo, 5 June 2015

Extremism and terrorism must be fought on the ground, in the courtrooms; in churches and mosques; in elected assemblies, and on the internet.

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Never before have so many people on this planet enjoyed so much progress and prosperity.

At the same time, the threats to our security are more complex and diffuse than they have been for decades.

There are many reasons for this paradox.

Violent extremism is central among them.

Violent extremism figures prominently in any analysis of the emerging threats – as both cause and consequence.  

Extremism breeds hatred and terrorism as much as it hinders development, education –and the everyday search for happiness of every child, woman and man.    

The atrocities of ISIL in Syria, Iraq and Libya – and the brutal excesses of Boko Haram, Taliban, al-Qaida, al-Shabaab and others – demonstrate how far extremists are willing to go in order to disrupt and destroy.

Together, we must make sure that it is they that are disrupted and destroyed.  

In Europe, too, repeated attacks against individuals and institutions are threatening security and challenging freedom of expression.

The attacks in Oslo and on Utøya in 2011 were by far the worst atrocity Norway has experienced since the Second World War – and reminded us that no society can be immune against this scourge.  

We can fight terrorists with soldiers and police – and indeed we will – but in the long run we can only win if we understand the root causes of violent extremism – and commit ourselves to translating this understanding into action.

That is why we have gathered here in Oslo today – to maintain and strengthen the momentum created by President Obama at the Washington Summit in February.

If we are to prevail in this struggle, we cannot rest in our quest for answers and solutions.    

Terrorism and violent extremism are threats to us all – so we must fight it globally, at home – and together.

That is why we need the United Nations to take the lead.

That is why we are committed to stopping the flow of funds and fighters to terrorists.

That is why we have established a coalition of 62 nations to fight ISIL in Iraq.     

That is why we need to dismantle the warped ideology of the extremists.  

That is why job applicants -- in Europe and elsewhere – must be given a chance based on their skills and qualifications – not on their names and cultural backgrounds.

That is why religious leaders must preach the true meaning of their faiths – speaking less about what divides us – and more about of what unites us.

That is why civil society must join governments in taking action – and why governments must hear the voice of their citizens. 


The adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2178 last September paved the way for renewed international efforts to combat violent extremism.

By calling the Washington Summit, President Obama accelerated a process that will lead to concrete action.

Our discussions today – together with other regional meetings – will provide important input for the next Leaders’ Summit and the UN General Assembly in September.

Yesterday, young people from all over Europe met in this room.

They created a network for cooperation among young Europeans of all faiths.

If we are to succeed, we must learn from what works at the local level.  

Dedicated teachers motivate children to earn diplomas instead of dropping out of school.

Local NGOs make a difference for young people who feel left out.

The Strong Cities initiative will help to prevent extremism where people live, which is where this struggle will be won.

We must learn more about the different roles that young women and men play in radicalization.

A gender perspective should be included in all our efforts to address this threat.     

Yesterday’s meeting was conducted in the same spirit that led young Norwegian Muslims to gather in the streets of our capital after the terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen.

They formed a ring of peace around Oslo’s synagogue.

Their message was clear.

Together we must make sure that their message is heard –and followed by action.

I will make sure that yesterday’s and today’s messages from Oslo are heard when world leaders gather in New York in September. 

An active civil society is vital to the success of any country, and plays a vital role in correcting bad policies – and thus converting poor governance into good governance.

Good governance requires information from below about how policies actually work – not disinformation from above.  

A vigilant civil society should be welcomed by any government.  


Messages of hatred and destruction run counter to the core of all world religions.

All main faiths share a message of peace, love and respect for other human beings – and prefer creation to destruction.

Politicians, priests, imams, rabbis and students must all take part in unravelling the narrative of the extremists.

But our message will be more convincing if it is accompanied by substance.  

Let me be clear:

Being unemployed is never an excuse to employ the methods of terrorism.

Lacking opportunities in life is no pretext for taking lives.

But we cannot prevail in this longterm fight unless we address the grievances that the extremists are exploiting to recruit young people.

We must create jobs and opportunities for the young generations.

European governments – and civil societies – must do more to make all their citizens feel that they belong.    

The worst enemy of the extremists is their own ideology.

But we cannot sit back and wait for the extremists to self-destruct.

Last year, Norway adopted an action plan against radicalisation and violent extremism. 

The measures range from active police work in the communities – where police enter into dialogue with the families of radicalised youth – to the involvement of civil society. 


Education is key to economic development and job creation.

We must do our share so that young people everywhere can educate themselves, find jobs and write the script of their own lives.

An educated population is also more resistant to the distorted teachings of the extremists.

The current government has decided to double its funding for education globally by 2017.

Let us show the advocates of ignorance what a formidable weapon education can be.

In addition, we intend to allocate 13 million dollars to concrete projects aimed at combatting violent extremism internationally.

We will work to prevent violent extremism in fragile states.

We will help build inclusive societies and criminal justice systems that operate in compliance with international law. 


Norway is also doing its share in the fight against ISIL – including by deploying military personnel to build the capacity of the Iraqi forces.    

The unprecedented threat of a brutal terrorist organisation that is in control of territory must be met with robust military force.

But in our wider fight against extremism, we must also learn the lessons from Iraq, Syria and other disintegrating states.

Governments that fail to offer their citizens economic opportunities and basic human rights – and that exclude some groups from having a voice – are sowing the seeds of extremism – and in the long run undermining their own position.  

For decades, many thought that the iron fist of the Assad regime was necessary to ensure stability.

No one would make such a claim today. 

The fight against terrorism and extremism is vital to our security – and to our defence of democracy and human dignity.

It is crucial that we conduct it in accordance with human rights and humanitarian law. 


Worldwide, increased trade and improved governance have cut in half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty.

But some nations are lagging behind, due to human rights abuses, poor governance and a lack of jobs and equal opportunities.

In addition, the technological wonders that have served us so well are also being employed by those who want to destroy – as demonstrated by ISIL when it combines medieval brutality with a 21st century command of social media. 

This is the complex face of our new security landscape.

Globalisation is drawing the nations of the world closer – for good and bad.  

This is part of the reason why Norway is redesigning its development policy – in order to improve the ability of countries to create growth themselves – and to strengthen education, human rights and good governance.

Our development policy will increasingly be regarded as part of our overall strategy to fight extremism and other transnational threats.

No stone must be left unturned in the search for the roots of violent extremism – and all possible action must be taken in the fight against it.  

Extremism and terrorism must be fought on the ground, in the courtrooms, in the classrooms; in churches and mosques; in elected assemblies, and on the internet.

Today’s discussions will take us further in our common fight against this common threat.

Thank you.       

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