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UN Calls for Collective Action to Combat Violent Extremism

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Conference on the Prevention of Violent Extremism at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, April 8, 2016.

The United Nations is calling for collective action to combat violent extremism. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told more than 700 delegates attending the first ever conference on preventing extreme violence they have to tackle its root causes to defeat it. .

Terrorism and extreme violence are not new phenomena. They have been around for decades; but, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said modern technology like smartphones, along with social media outlets and advanced modes of transportation — have allowed the twin scourges to spread like a cancer.

Ban said countering the threats by centering on security and military action have not worked, adding these methods have limits and often are counterproductive. Ban adds it is time to try a new approach.

“We need a more comprehensive and balanced approach that address the drivers of violent extremism," he said. "… We should invest and focus more on prevention.”

He said that involves the need to address the root causes of what drives people, particularly youth, to become radicalized and join terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State militant group and Boko Haram.

In order to successfully tackle this issue, Ban said it is necessary to focus on the large number of disaffected youth. He said young people who feel marginalized, alienated or isolated from society are vulnerable to extremist messages.

“They have no job," he added. "no social economic opportunities and women groups, girls — they have a lot of violence that is happening, while the international community has not been able to effectively address the root causes of this.”

The U.N. chief has submitted a five-point Plan of Action to the conference. It focuses on harnessing the idealism, creativity and energy of 1.8 billion young people around the world.

The plan emphasizes conflict prevention and offers a list of 79 recommendations for member states to devise their own National Plans of Action to counter violent extremism.