Statement on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the UN General Assembly debate on the UN Secretary-General proposed Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (New York, 12 February 2016)

15.02.2016. 08:30

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of Estonia, Lithuania and my own country Latvia. We align ourselves with the statement of the European Union. 

We express our appreciation to you for organizing this timely debate.

The magnitude of threat that emanates from the spread of violent extremism requires united and coordinated collective action. There is a growing need for credible political solutions and a more comprehensive approach to meet increasing challenges posed by violent extremism.

In this regard we welcome the initiative of the UN Secretary-General and the efforts taken in preparation of the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. We also welcome the adoption of a procedural resolution which is a consistent next step for further substantive and inclusive dialogue on this matter.

Although more time is needed for thorough analysis of the recommendations contained in the Action Plan, we would like to emphasize a few areas of action which deserve special attention.

First, we commend that the Action Plan addresses the root causes of violent extremism and puts emphasis on systematic preventive efforts, including conflict prevention. We appreciate the links with the Sustainable Development Goals and targets, particularly those related to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, gender equality and women’s empowerment, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Second, the cross-border nature of violent extremism requires action at global, regional and national levels. Although the primary responsibility for preventing violent extremism rests with Member States, national efforts must go hand in hand with enhanced regional cooperation.  Also regional instruments need to be strengthened. In this regard a good example is the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism which was opened for signature in Riga, Latvia, last October, and has been already signed by almost half of Council of Europe’s Member States. The Riga Protocol is the first regional legal instrument to implement the provisions of the UN Security Council Resolution 2178 on foreign terrorist fighters, and its special focus is the prevention of terrorist training and travel abroad for the purpose of terrorism.

Finally, in the age of Internet and social media it is impossible to fight violent extremism without efficient communications strategies based on international human rights standards. Preventing and combatting terrorism and violent extremism should not become a pretext for repressive action against free speech, whether online or offline. We have to make sure that our actions aimed at preventing violent extremism are fully in line with existing human rights obligations. Promoting freedom of expression, pluralism, and protecting journalists should be important components of these efforts.

We once again thank you, President, for facilitating this pertinent discussion and look forward to further deliberations.

Thank you.