India criticises UN plan to combat violent extremism

United Nations, Feb 13 (IANS) India has criticised a UN plan to combat violent extremism saying it lacked sufficient options for international cooperation and a unified UN mechanism to tackle the modern-day plague. The Assembly did not adopt the plan Friday and instead opted to give it “further consideration” because of strong differences among nations. The differences centered on whether issues like “foreign occupation” and “self-determination” should be included in it.

“The current architecture at the United Nations is not sufficient to tackle this virus (of violent extremism) that threatens us collectively,” India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the General Assembly Friday. “The Action Plan provides no solution to this shortcoming.”

As an example of the flaws in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s plan of action for fighting violent extremism, Akabaruddin cited the lack of a single contact point to assist countries seeking UN help. “Having gone through the entire Action Plan,” he said, “unfortunately, we did not find an answer to this simple and basic question.”

Making the case for more international cooperation to deal with the terrorist threat, Akbaruddin said, “What we are tackling is not merely a local problem that can be addressed unilaterally; it is a global contagion. Global links, franchise relations, home-grown terrorism and use of cyberspace for recruitment and propaganda, all these present a new level of threat.”

He said social, political, economic, psychological and cultural factors played a role in the spread of violent extremism. The UN had the potential to come up with solutions to deal with the problem because of its experience in putting together partnerships across sectors to address multi-dimensional issues, he said.

“Hence inter-connectedness between security and development as a central philosophical tenet of the approach outlined through the action plan is understandable,” Akbaruddin added.

The main disagreement that stalled the plan’s adoption centered on what Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi, who spoke on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), described as “foreign occupation” and “denial of self-determination.” These were not addressed in Ban’s plan.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi joined in asserting that violent extremists exploited injustices done to people under foreign occupation, the denial of the right to self-determination, and long-festering and unresolved international disputes were being exploited by violent extremists. She avoided being more specific in the statement that appeared to provide justification for some acts of terrorism.

She added that there was no clear definition of “terrorism” and “violent extremism” in the plan.

But Akbaruddin said it was a “sagacious approach” to not “enter into the divisive minefield” of trying to define violent extremism. “We in the General Assembly would once again have been subjected to theological debates even though the need is for action,” he added. “The approach to indicate pathways to address the problems with the best tools we have rather than going down the route of definition has our support.”

Ban’s seven-point plan of action called for dialogue to prevent conflicts; strengthening good governance; promoting human rights and the rule of law; engaging communities; empowering youth; ensuring gender equality and empowering women; improving education and increasing jobs, and strategic communications that also harnesses Internet and social media.

Most of the Western countries supported the plan. Britain’s Permanent Representative Matthew Rycroft called it pragmatic and comprehensive. Its recommendations could be the basis of national action plans based on respect for human rights and rule of law, he added.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at

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