Critical to defeating terrorism and making the world a safer place is addressing conditions that give rise to this scourge, senior United Nations officials stated today, as they also underscored the need to better support the victims of such heinous acts.
"Nothing can justify terrorism. No grievance or no cause can justify terrorist acts. But terrorism thrives when conflicts continue to simmer, or where rights are systematically violated, or where discrimination is institutionalized, or where there are few prospects of a secure and stable livelihood," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"Our shared challenge is to ensure that terrorists do not find fertile ground to promote hate and intolerance," he added in his address to the Interactive Dialogue on the Conditions Conducive to the Spread of Terrorism, organized with the support of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) Office.
"That means increasing our focus on de-radicalization, the rehabilitation of former terrorists and skills development for young people. Recent initiatives and conferences have generated a wealth of best practices and recommendations, and I urge all States to use those ideas to the fullest."
Today's event comes on the eve of the Fourth Review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2006.
The Strategy is based on four pillars: tackling the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; preventing and combating terrorism; building States' capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the UN system in that regard; and ensuring respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis for the fight against terrorism.
John Ashe, President of the General Assembly, told the gathering that, while each of the pillars is important, more efforts are needed for the implementation of measures under Pillar I, which emphasizes the need to counter the appeal of terrorism.
"While terrorism cannot be justified for any reason or grievance, we know that in many parts of the world, the terrorists' hateful narrative capitalizes on poor socio-economic and political conditions to gain credence among the youth or the disaffected," Mr. Ashe stated.
"Lack of employment and education, prolonged conflicts and the absence of good governance help terrorists gain sympathizers, find fresh recruits and raise funds," he noted, adding that more and more, terrorists utilize advanced communications tools, including social media and other Internet-based platforms, to spread their message of violence and intolerance.
"It is incumbent upon us to counter this narrative," the President stressed. "We can begin by learning from each other's experiences. Member States, with support from the United Nations system, should collect and disseminate good practices on de-radicalization efforts; rehabilitation of former terrorists, including in prison settings; enhancing the reach and quality of education and upholding human rights and the rule of law."
He also cited the need to work with civil society, where possible, on building public awareness, ending social marginalization and discrimination, engendering trust among communities and law enforcement agencies, and reinforcing cultural diversity, so that societies can grow resilient and immune to the terrorist narrative.
Measures under Pillar I also call on Member States to promote international solidarity in support of victims of terrorism and to develop practical mechanisms to assist them.
As part of the event, the UN Victims of Terrorism Support Portal, a valuable resource that will make a concrete contribution to international efforts in the cause of supporting victims, was launched.
Mr. Ban hailed the Portal, developed by the CTITF, as "a major step" in protecting the rights of victims of terrorism and providing the services they need.
"Any balanced and comprehensive strategy for combating terrorism must recognize that victims of terrorism are entitled to our support," he said. "Far too often, victims are left to suffer in silence as the world around them moves on even as their own lives have been upended. This only exacerbates their trauma."
Among those participating in today's event was Jason Pronyk and Mohammad Younus - UN staff members who were wounded in the 2003 terrorist attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad.