"Investing In Fragile Environments: The Role of the Private Sector in Countering Violent Extremism" (en)

Berne, 29.09.2015 - New York, 29.09.2015 – Discours du Conseiller fédéral Didier Burkhalter lors de la 70e session de l’Assemblée générale de l'ONU (GCERF Roundtable) - Seul le texte prononcé fait foi

Executive Director Koser,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,

Preventing Violent Extremism – A Major Foreign Policy
Task of our Generation

In a few hours I will be speaking at the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism about the necessity to prevent extremism before it turns violent and leads to terrorism.

Finding ways of effectively preventing violent extremism is one of the major foreign policy tasks of our generation. The effective prevention of violent extremism requires a comprehensive approach.

Security and law enforcement measures alone do not suffice to fight terrorism. We also need to address the root causes of radicalization. We need to invest more – a lot more – in prevention.

We need to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies. We have to provide societies, in particular youth at risk, with opportunities in life, including education and jobs. Young people will provide the future cohesion for the society. If we lose the young, we lose the future cohesion. And cohesion is key for preventing radicalization and violence.

Switzerland’s Activities relating to PVE and Jobs

Switzerland is engaged in numerous activities which contribute to the prevention of violent extremism.
One of our important goals is to contribute to the political, social and economic inclusion of young people in countries and regions affected by violent extremism.

To enable political, economic and social progress, a secure environment is need. Switzerland’s activities thus also focus on prevention through the reduction of fragility, improvement of human security and development of peace.

The improvement of the professional perspectives of young people represents a cornerstone of our engagement. Switzerland is increasing it’s funding for programmes in the field of vocational skills development on four continents, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected regions and in countries susceptible to violent extremism.

But education and training as such is not enough. Jobs are needed, too. That is why Switzerland also focuses on the development of markets for local small and micro enterprises. We bring together stakeholders such as governments, private sector and civil society. Only if they develop a joint strategy for economic development, we can achieve job creation, higher incomes and new perspectives for disadvantaged groups.

Why does Switzerland support GCERF?

Switzerland is a strong supporter of GCERF and its inclusive approach to prevention, based on local engagement and private-public partnership. GCERF is in line with our values.

GCERF supports positive alternatives to what violent extremist groups may offer. It provides a new opportunity to channel funding for private and public donors to organizations and groups active in the field to prevent violent extremism. Thus we believe that GCERF can make a difference on the ground.

We are pleased that GCERF has found a home in Geneva – a global centre of peace and humanitarian action.

Switzerland views its engagement for GCERF from a longer-term perspective. It has thus contributed 5 million US dollars to this fund for its first four years while others have pledged or contributed additional 20 million USD.

Time is not in our favor, given the mass atrocities and huge consequences, such as the mass refugee crisis, that has arisen from the conflicts in Syria in Iraq. We therefore expect GCERF to fund the first programs in early 2016, and to make a visible contribution. Such short-term actions will then have to be amplified and magnified by follow-on funding.

What is the role of the private sector?

So far, mainly Governments and the European Union has pledged or contributed to GCERF. Since we need to tackle violent extremism holistically, we expect GCERF to expand its outreach to the private part of this partnership. And we expect the private sector to assume its responsibility, too.
Governments can provide education. But companies are needed for job creation and the important on-the-job-training at their own workplaces. The private sector is responsible for the creation of nine out of every ten jobs worldwide.

Multinational companies, your companies, can play a very important role in offering training, employment and income opportunities at a large scale and in creating incentives for innovation and entrepreneurship.

And you can offer more than jobs and salary; you can offer perspectives and opportunities for young people. You can keep them away from engaging in violent extremism.

Why should you as private sector companies have a concrete interest in supporting CGERF?

Violent extremism threatens not only the safety of citizens, but also economic development and stability of your business operations.

Violent extremism disrupts the markets, interrupts supply chains you depend on and separates you from your customers.

Violent extremism, insecurity and instability are bad ingredients for business. You need political stability to achieve success.

A stronger involvement of the private sector in public-private partnerships is necessary and an important contribution to this stability and to counter violent extremism. GCERF is the right partner for such engagement.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Private sector investment in fragile contexts goes beyond mere corporate social responsibility; it is an investment in unleashing economic potential, in future growth and higher returns in new markets. It is thus a real business case.

Preventing violent extremism needs long term engagement. There is no quick fix for this worldwide challenge. And time works against us. So we need both short-term actions and we must demonstrate our common determination to tackle root causes of violent extremism and terrorism. The private sector, you, have role to play and a responsibility to share.

I look forward to hear from you how you intend to contribute to the global challenge of preventing violent extremism.

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