To prevent violent extremism, we should stop siloing women and youth from other actors on the ground. Photo: Malin Fezehai/UNDP

Violent extremism remains a persistent threat to many societies and it has spread across countries, regions and conflicts. More than ever, the world needs a strong and coordinated UN that can fulfill its mandate to maintain and promote international peace and security.

This week (23-24 May), UNDP Oslo Governance Centre, in partnership with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will host the Second Global Meeting on Preventing Violent Extremism.

For decades, Norway has consistently and actively contributed to peace, security and development. The fight against international terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization remains high on Norway’s agenda. We contribute to halting the recruitment of foreign fighters, countering the ideology of ISIL and stabilizing former ISIL-controlled areas.

Why a second global meeting in Oslo?

I believe that through assessing progress and experiences we can further promote international coordination, develop new ideas and revise strategies. In this field, international cooperation must evolve and quickly adapt to the changes in the global security landscape.

By focusing on the preventive measures against violent extremism, we are shifting towards a more proactive and not a reactive mode. This is why Norway in 2017, established a Permanent United Nations Group of Friends of Preventing Violent Extremism, in partnership with the Kingdom of Jordan.  

I like to think about preventive measures as a way of enabling us to see the warning signs, and hopefully mitigating them before the violence materializes.

Moreover, preventing violent extremism prompts us to think about our own values, norms and objectives. We can only prevent violent extremism if we know what we want to promote within our societies.

Business as usual is no longer sufficient or viable. By integrating the nexus between preventing violent extremism and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are introducing new approaches across sectors. The Norwegian government is currently setting aside substantial funds for international development.

The high ambitions for Agenda 2030 will not be achieved through increased aid budgets alone. To make the SDGs a reality, we need to work through partnerships with civil society, women, youth and the private sector. This represents a new global peace architecture, that takes account of a whole of society and multi-disciplinary approach that enables people of all backgrounds to know that they belong. 

Women have the right to take part in decisions that concern their lives, actions that impact their future. But women’s empowerment is about more than women’s rights. It benefits men as well as women; society at large, as demonstrated in many countries, including my own. We have a more complete understanding of the issues at hand if we consult more broadly.

Women might also have access and trust in the very contexts that States may not. They are invested in their communities and are often powerful agents of peace.

Adversely, women are also drawn towards extremist groups, even though these groups undermine women’s rights. Underestimating women as destructive forces is unwise. Women prove to be effective recruiters and ideologists for extremists.

Our key partners in the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) and Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) are doing important work in this field. Making a difference on the ground in the face of violent extremism, while driving global discussions on the matter, informing policies.

What are the objectives of the second global meeting in Oslo?

To prevent violent extremism, we should set ambitious goals for this second global meeting here in Oslo. Let me therefore propose four goals:

First, we should stop siloing women and youth from other actors on the ground. They should work and interact with each other as much as possible.  

Second, we should set a gold standard of inclusive practices. This means that consultations with women-led, youth-lead and local civil society organizations should be the point of departure for all our work. 

Third, we should commit to having sustained programs on preventing violent extremism, not short-term projects.

Finally, we must recognize that each sector has its limits and its comparative advantages. We have to strive for better coordination and cooperation. We cannot afford to duplicate each other's work.

The success of the meeting the next two days depends on what everyone brings to the table.

You can count on Norway’s support!

UNDP Around the world