Response to UN Resolution on Foreign Terrorist Fighters
25 Sep 2014
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178 calls for long-term work to prevent and counter violent extremism to stop foreign terrorist fighters. For the first time ever, the UN has specifically called on all states to take steps to decrease the risk of radicalization to terrorism in their societies, such as engaging relevant local communities and empowering concerned groups of civil society.
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation believes it is essential that there is practical support to counter religious prejudice, conflict and extremism in order to promote open-minded and stable societies. Through our own programmes and through our involvement with other bodies, such as the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), the first global effort to support community-based initiatives, the Foundation advocates a comprehensive, long-term strategy to counter violent extremism.
"The conflicts we are seeing in the Middle East and other parts of the world are of course driven by a collection of separate, local issues. But there is a unifying thread - an extremism with a clear ideology shared by all these different groups.
"It is right that the immediate security threats are dealt with as a priority. But if we are to defeat this religious extremism in the longer term we have to take on the ideology that is its primary cause . The victims of this abhorrent extremism are not just victims of acts of violence, but a way of thinking. An extremist mind-set rooted in an absolute certainty that they have a divine right to kill, maim and commit genocide.
"This is why we need a comprehensive, long term strategy to defeat it. Whether it is reforming education systems or providing a counter-narrative on and off-line, we need to stand up for an open-minded way of living and build resilience to the extremists' message within communities."
"There is a growing acceptance that to truly understand the world today we need to better understand the role of religion. This UN resolution is further recognition that religious extremism is a major cause of conflicts in the 21st Century. Governments, civil society and institutions need to work together and recognise that preventing radicalization requires community engagement and practical ways of supporting prevention.
"Key to this is supporting the next generation, specifically by giving young people an education that promotes dialogue, mutual understanding and empathy between those of different religions and cultures. Through our own global schools programme we provide young people in thirty countries with the knowledge and skills to understand other religious and cultural perspectives and to resist extremist voices.
"Those who wish to divide communities along religious, sectarian lines stick to their strategy over years and decades and defeating it will require us to match and beat their commitment. Hard power alone is not enough. This is why I welcome and support the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund. This is a genuine opportunity to provide the long-term practical support on the ground."