Ban Ki-moon: A Strategy of Inclusion to Counter Violent Extremism
by aupara123 on April 18, 2016 - 2:14pm
The threat of the Islamic State group (IS) is extremely worrisome as its actions and ideologies are in direct violation to the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Men, women and children worldwide are victims of violent extremism. According to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, the response of the international community to violent extremism has been primarily focused on countering the threat. These security and military actions have been unsuccessful in eliminating the menace, due to their limited and sometimes counterproductive effects towards addressing the root cause. Ban Ki-moon has recently taken inspirational actions to challenge the current paradigms of how to deal with such threats. The shift of the prime focus, from countering the threat to creating dialogue, fostering inclusion and doing conflict prevention, is welcome and provides hope for the future.
Ban Ki-moon was born in the Republic of Korea on 13 June 1944. He grew up during the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, and acknowledges the support from the United Nations in the reconstruction of his country. This experience was a significant contributor in pursuing a career in public service. At the age of eighteen, he had the opportunity to meet President John F. Kennedy at the White House. The visit further motivated him towards taking on a career in government, mainly in foreign relations. He has a bachelor's degree in international relations from Seoul National University and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He speaks English, French and Korean. He has three children and four grandchildren.
Mr. Ban has held various roles in the South Korean cabinet, including Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Foreign Policy Adviser to the President, Chief National Security Adviser to the President, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and Director-General of American Affairs. These positions included international assignments in New Delhi, Washington D.C. and Vienna. His involvement with the United Nation dates back to 1975. He has held at the UN roles of increasing responsibility, such as Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization and Chef de Cabinet during the his country’s presidency of the UN General Assembly that took place in 2001 and 2002. He has been in the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations since January 1, 2007, was re-elected in 2011, and will remain in the role until December 31, 2016.
Ban Ki-moon has placed as his main priority the mobilization of world leaders towards addressing the new challenges globally, such as climate change, economic turmoil, pandemics, food and water scarcities, as well as the challenges linked to energy. His aim has been to become a “bridge-builder” where he would give voice to the poor and vulnerable worldwide, as well as to make the United Nations stronger. Accomplishments during his tenure include the promotion of sustainable development, the empowerment of women, the strengthening of UN peace efforts in countries challenged by crisis and instability, a new drive towards disarmament and arms control, as well as effectively making the United Nations stronger. Ban Ki-moon’s contributions to the world are inspirational.
Speaking at the Geneva Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism, which took place on at April 7-8, 2016, as well as during an open debate of the Security Council on Countering Terrorism held on April 14, 2016, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated the goal of extremists “is for us to turn on each other [and] our unity is the ultimate rebuke for that bankrupt strategy,” insisting that extremists pursue the division of communities in order to rule by fear. He indicated that violent extremism is not limited to a religion, region, nationality or ethnic group, despite the tendency to associate it to IS or Boko Haram. He also emphasized the fact that Muslims constitute the broad majority of victims of violent extremism globally. He qualified the threat as “transnational”, indicated the increasing risks of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons falling into extremists’ hands, and insisted on the need for immediate international cooperation. Ban Ki-moon indicated that his Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, submitted to the General Assembly on 15 January, 2016, provides a “comprehensive and balanced approach.” His hopes are for the plan to be adopted during the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy review planned in June 2016.
One of the main sources of radicalization is exclusion. This is one conclusion from French sociologist and EHESS research director, Farhad Khosrokhavar, specialised in jihadism and radicalization. Exclusion can be political, economic, social or cultural. Similarly, Ban Ki-moon, during the Geneva conference and open debate mentioned above, insisted that violent extremism grows when “…aspirations for inclusion are frustrated, marginalized groups linger on the sidelines of societies, political space shrinks, human rights are abused and when too many people – especially young people – lack prospects and meaning in their lives.” He indicated that due to a lack of dialogue, people lost hope as they fled their homes – the perfect breeding ground for extremists. Mr. Ban stated that violent extremists are spreading like cancer around the world. As mentioned in my post “Europe Awakens to the Islamic State’s Ambitions and Proficiencies”, through the investigation of the Paris attacks, European authorities came to the realization that IS has spread much more successfully than anticipated, with a sophisticated network despite the reduction of 40% of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria.
Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the necessity of military action against terrorism, but insisted in engaging sooner to prevent the contributing factors of violent extremism. He also stated that too frequently, “counter-terror strategies are so heavy-handed and discriminatory that they end up being counter-productive, generating further alienation among targeted communities and even more terrorists than there were beforehand.”
Mr. Ban’s action plan has five major elements: prevention, national ownership, international cooperation, UN support and united action. Each country is expected to establish a “National Plan” that seeks the engagement of communities. Prevention is at the forefront of the plan – the emphasis is on conflict prevention, conflict resolution as well as political solutions, which are established on the basis of listening and supporting genuine needs. It is based on principles of inclusion. The resolution of lasting conflicts and providing hope to people subjected to oppression will give the means to eliminate the growth of violent extremism, which leads to terrorism. He clarified that countries and regions cannot resolve the threats of violent extremism on their own, and insisted on the need for “coherent and multi-dimensional response” from the international community.
My post “Lessons from the Black Panther Party Applied to the Islamic State” explained how Bloom and Martin emphasized in Black Against Empire that the prime reason for the demise of the Black Panther Party was linked, not to state repression, but to state neutralization through the state cooptation thesis. President Nixon’s promotion of black capitalism was the neutralizing agent. Concrete actions of inclusiveness had been taken to increase black elected officials and the Affirmative Action provided access to employment and education for black people. Similarly to the current threat of violent extremism, the Black Panthers had flourished from the lasting oppression and the loss of hope. The state cooptation thesis to the black population, while maintaining focused repression on the Black Panther Party, was the answer.
In conclusion, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, is an inspirational man who truly appears to live in accordance with his convictions and values. He has the courage to challenge the existing counter-terror strategies, which alone cannot defeat IS, and are at times so “heavy-handed”, “discriminatory”, and in contradiction with the values of the United Nations, that they further fuel the alienation of those who feel excluded and oppressed – the perfect storm for radicalization. Mr. Ban also has the vision of seeking novel solutions to the major threat of violent extremism, starting with addressing the root cause through prevention and dialogue that will potentially yield more effective results. I have hope that Ban Ki-moon will be the leader who will succeed in bringing nations together, and that collectively we can demonstrate vision, courage and leadership that he is asking of us towards a strong prevention from radicalization, and that the unity will persist despite the attempts of terrorist organizations to divide us. Inclusion and respect of diversity, including Muslims, is not only desirable, it is necessary. This, combined with counter-terror actions that are aligned with our values, will significantly diminish the risks of radicalization and terrorism. The closure statement will be Mr. Ban’s view of youth and inclusion “We will not be successful unless we can harness the idealism, creativity and energy of 1.8 billion young people around the world.”
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