Intervention by Ambassador Katalin Bogyay on “The Role of Youth in Countering Violent Extremism and Promoting Peace” at the open debate of the Security Council, held on 23 April 2015.
Your Highness, Mr President,
Honorable members of the Security Council, dear Colleagues,
We should teach our children to celebrate diversity, not to take it as a burden but as a source of inspiration. If we are successful in this, they will feel safer in their own body- envelope.
But instead of that, what is happening today?
Let me start with the pressing pain of losing or not finding one’s identity and looking for one!
Then with the basic human aspiration of belonging to somewhere and to someone!
Not to mention the far cry for recognition and the wish for being talked about never mind the reasons being good or bad!
All of these taking place in the time of uncertainty and in a chaordic world, in a chaotic order....!
Culture is the foundation on which people’s identities grow and mature. It is my deeply held belief, based on my personal experiences, that many of today’s problems are rooted in the crises of identity, which has today become a global issue. Increasing mobility of young people and ideas across international borders, information and communication revolutions, and economic globalization have made identities broader, delocalized and multilayered.
Individuals and groups over the world are finding themselves sharing living spaces with people of different cultural backgrounds, especially in world’s cities. Under the rapid transformation of cultural and social structures, the fears of the unknown and the lack of understanding of different views often provide fertile ground for racism, xenophobia and intolerance, human rights violations, and, sometimes, outright conflict.
It is through culture that we give meaning to our lives and develop a sense of who we are. Culture is a source of identity, belonging, citizenship, equity and participation. It can become a driving force in facilitating social cohesion. And because culture is a source of universal values shared by all, it can only be enjoyed under the conditions of mutual respect and acceptance of diversity.
Fully appreciating one’s own cultural background is possible only after understanding and respecting the diversity of other cultures and celebrating the richness of our common cultural heritage. In other words, we need to learn about each other.
And here I come to the point, which concerns the power of learning. Such ideals and values as compassion, conviviality, hospitality, fraternity, and solidarity are, to a large extent, learned through education and life experiences. Peaceful transformation begins within one’s self, and involves learning about yourself, and learning about the others.
What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind.
We have to learn thinking positively, we have to learn acting ethically, and we have to learn living together peacefully.
But what happens when there is no education, or no one teaches us all these principles, not to mention we do not trust the teacher.
Transformations start from and within an individual. An avalanche of an incredible force accumulates from the movement of particular snowflakes on top of a mountain. Powerful ideas are generated in the minds of individuals and spread with a lightning speed of modern information technologies to transform societies in most fundamental ways.
I wish to thank Jordan and His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah for initiating today’s open debate on the role of youth in countering violent extremism. I also wish to thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr.Peter R. Neumannand Mr. Scott Atran for their informative briefings. Hungary fully aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.
Over the past year violent extremist groups have increasingly targeted young people and recruited them as child soldiers, terrorists and even suicide attackers. The Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee has pointed out last year that the majority of foreign terrorist fighters recruited by the ISIS and Al-Nusrah Front are young. In his 2014 report on children and armed conflict, the Secretary-General also listed several Al-Qaida affiliated groups that recruit children e.g. in Iraq, Mali, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
We fully agree that in order to effectively counter the threat of radicalization, we must tackle the socio economic root causes that often leave young people marginalized and susceptible to violent extremists. High levels of youth unemployment, illiteracy and weak family bonds all contribute to creating a fertile ground for radicalization.
It is our responsibility to take effective policy measures that enhance the social and economic inclusion of our youth and prepare them for a productive adulthood. These measures shall range from providing education, competence buildings and skills development, to creating employment opportunities and promoting young entrepreneurs.
I strongly believe that ensuring access to quality education for children and young people must be a priority in our efforts to combat radicalization and promote tolerance. In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we believe that education shall be available and accessible to every child, and shall be directed to the development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values and prepare the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace and tolerance.
Strong and harmonious families contribute to the development of strong identity and cultural values that will make children and young people more resilient in the face of extremism. In this regard, we, parents, have a critical role to play in shaping the worldviews of our children and in protecting them from violent extremists. I personally believe that we, parents have to be alert, and protect our kids from radicalization, to identify early signs of violent extremism.
In the same vein, promoting sports, art and cultural activities for youth are also important to develop culturally sensitive and responsible young adults.
We believe that governments should also facilitate the participation of young people in public life and public discourse. Youth organizations play a constructive role in fostering civic engagement and the Hungarian Government has and will continue to support the activities of youth organizations as an effective tool to build resilient communities.
I cannot express strongly enough the responsibility and role of the media in creating dreams, setting examples, negative or positive ones.
One of the greatest challenges of our time is to create an Internet that is a free and safe environment for our children and youth. We must learn from examples of responsible online activism that effectively engage young people to contribute to inclusive societies and a sustainable future for all.
We also encourage the dissemination of counter-narratives undermining the discourse of violent extremists and promoting tolerance, inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogue in particular through social media and the Internet. In this regard, we believe the local communities are best placed to develop credible and authentic messages, which take into consideration the local context. Civil society organizations could identify young victims, survivors and former violent extremists, who could act as messengers to help counter radicalization.
Young people are not only the target of violent extremist groups, they may also have a role to play in using the media, for instance by engaging in journalism, to counter such ideologies and promote tolerance, diversity and respect towards each other.
Let me conclude my statement by underlining the importance of criminal accountability in ensuring justice to the victims and –in the longer term – in healing the wounds of traumatized societies. In recent months we have heard a lot about the barbaric crimes committed by terrorist organizations like ISIL, Boko Haram, Al-Nusrah Front, and other groups.
As it has been reported most recently by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and the investigative mission dispatched by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Iraq, many of the atrocities have been committed against young girls and boys, who often belong to religious or ethnic minorities. We have read about killing, torturing, raping children, subjecting girls to sexual slavery and forced marriage, recruiting child soldiers, and using children as human shields. It is without question that many of these actions amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
While today we are discussing the important role of youth in countering violent extremism, we must not forget about the young victims who deserve justice to be done. Hungary is of the view that there is no peace and reconciliation without accountability, therefore, we must redouble our efforts to find a solution that would honor the victims.
Thank you, Mr President!