« Empowering Communities to Prevent Violent Extremism »
New York, 20.09.2016 - Address by the Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter on the occasion of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly (High-Level Awareness and Pledging Meeting for the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF)) - Check against delivery
Foreign Minister Hoxhaj
Deputy Secretary Blinken
Foreign Secretary Haque
Chair of the GCERF Governing Board Bellamy
Ladies and gentlemen
Let me thank the Government of the United States, GCERF and the Prevention Project for having organised, together with Switzerland, today’s event for the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund.
Two years ago, GCERF was founded in Geneva as a global funding mechanism to promote community resilience against violent extremism. Switzerland has been a strong supporter of GCERF from the beginning. With its comprehensive approach to prevention, focus on local engagement, and private-public partnerships, GCERF is very much in line with Swiss values.
Switzerland commends GCERF for having started funding the first projects in Bangladesh, Mali and Nigeria. Over the next three years, these GCERF initiatives will directly reach more than a half million beneficiaries and mobilise almost 50,000 identified community level agents of change, in particular youth leaders and women from populations vulnerable to violent radicalisation. In Nigeria for example, young people will receive support to run their own businesses.
All these projects sound highly promising. It will be important to make tangible progress on the ground and to develop additional good projects in additional countries.
Ladies and gentlemen
Prevention of violent extremism is an imperative both at the international and the national levels. Prevention should be at the heart of our action. Switzerland has developed a foreign policy action plan on preventing violent extremism. We are currently implementing it. Two weeks ago we also decided to work out a National Action Plan to prevent extremism within Switzerland. It will be a comprehensive plan that includes the federal, cantonal and local levels.
GCERF’s support plays an important role in Switzerland’s Foreign Policy Action Plan to Prevent Violent Extremism.
GCERF provides positive alternatives to what violent extremist groups claim to offer. The projects funded by GCERF are also fully in line with the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. In our view, GCERF should be a key funding mechanism to implement that plan.
Switzerland considers GCERF a long-term investment. Preventing violent extremism is a marathon – not a sprint. It is common knowledge that it is more effective to invest in prevention than to deal with the consequences afterwards. And prevention is not only better than cure – it is also cheaper! We need to discuss frankly the mobilisation and potential reallocation of the necessary resources for preventive activities on the ground.
So far, Switzerland has committed about USD 5 Million to GCERF, and I can announce today that we will add another USD 300,000 to cover the operational costs of the GCERF Secretariat for the years 2016-2017.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) has recognised GCERF as an “Official Development Assistance-eligible organisation“. This means that your contributions to GCERF are counted as official development assistance. I encourage you to consider directing more development funding to GCERF. By doing so, you will also contribute to the implementation of the SDGs, in particular goal 16.
Violent extremism threatens not only the safety of citizens, but is also bad for business. Political stability is a precondition for business. A stronger engagement by the private sector in public-private partnerships is a necessary and important contribution to this stability and to countering violent extremism.
I am thankful to Bangladesh and Kosovo, which are present here today at this high-level meeting. You have accepted the GCERF’s offer to fund local projects in order to strengthen your populations’ resilience to violent extremism. The same is true of the other partner countries, Mali, Nigeria, Kenya and Myanmar. They all deserve our strong support for their engagement.
Ladies and gentlemen
Security measures alone cannot prevent the radicalisation of mainly young people to violent extremism. We need to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies. In particular, we must provide youth at risk with opportunities in life. We have to strengthen inclusion and participation with the aim of removing the breeding grounds of radicalisation and violence. In short: we have to strengthen societal cohesion.
GCERF offers a promising approach to prevent violent extremism and to strengthen societal cohesion. There are high expectations in the current partner countries – and many more have shown interest. To fulfil its important mission, GCERF needs substantially more funding – from current donors and from new governmental donors as well as from foundations and the private sector. It is up to us to use GCERF and to make a difference, for a better life for our children and all others who have entrusted us with ensuring and protecting their well-being.
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