UN, New York, April 26, 2015
Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi has urged the UN Security Council to redouble its efforts to address long-standing conflicts and disputes.
Participating in a debate at the Security Council on "The Role of Youth in Countering Violent Extremism and Promoting Peace”, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative said that this would be a major step in reversing the radicalization of youth.
She said that the rise of violent extremism has a direct co-relation with conflicts and disputes, foreign intervention and occupation, religious, racial and ethnic discrimination or persecution as well as social and economic exclusion. She added, “Extremists use such injustices to lure youth into supporting their agenda".
Emphasizing the importance of economic empowerment of youth, Ambassador Lodhi said that when economic opportunity fails to keep pace with demographics, young people become particularly vulnerable to being attracted to extremist narratives. “So if violent extremists are to be defeated the economic empowerment of youth must be a major component of a counter radicalization strategy”, she added.
She told the 15-member Council that a distinction should be made between free speech and hate speech. Legislation to prohibit insults to religion would help to address the growing problem of Islamophobia in certain Western states.
Highlighting the multidimensional aspects of the rise in violent extremism, she said that radicalization of youth cannot be understood, much less curbed, short of its political, social and economic context. “Economic and political exclusion and social injustice fuels disenchantment that drives young men and women towards extremism and that, in turn, assures terrorist groups of a steady supply of recruits”, she added.
She said that throughout history, youth has been the engine of change – for good or bad. “The energy of youth can generate progress and prosperity; but equally it can exacerbate violence and war”, she said and added that it was up to states and societies to ensure that the energy and idealism of youth is directed towards promoting peace and progress rather than conflict and chaos.
Dr. Lodhi said that violent extremism has emerged as one of the most complex challenges of our time that has claimed innocent lives, caused wide scale destruction, and disrupted social order as well as state structures.
She concluded by saying that given the complexity and global dimensions of violent extremism, the General Assembly should also be enabled to play a leading role to develop a multifaceted strategy building and expressed hope that the September UN Summit on this issue would provide a clear direction towards this end.