His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Asim, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives
at the High Level Side-Event on Countering Violent Extremism: Promoting Community Level Prevention
22 September 2017
United Nations, New York
At the outset, I would like to welcome and thank the distinguished panelists and the representatives of member States for their presence today. I wish to thank the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for partnering with the Maldives in co-hosting this important event. And I wish to thank H.E. Mr. Adel Ahmed Al- Jubeir, Minister of Foreign affairs of Saudi Arabia, for gracing the event and to be part of the pannel.
Before we begin with the proceedings, I would like to take a few minutes to introduce our panelists.
To my right is the Honorable Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, and to his right is Dr. Jehangir Khan, Director of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.
To my left is Dr. Raffi Gregorian, Acting Deputy Coordinator of the Bureau of Counterterrorism in the US State Department.
I with to thank the distinguished pannelists for their presence.
Violent extremism is a common menace that we all face. No country is immune from this threat. No country can afford to be complacent. It undermines social and political inclusion. It spreads fear and hate, and it challenges the States, and the democratic order in the country.
Extremists propagate the ideology of hate and division. Ideologies that are not compatible with the Charter of the United Nations. Ideologies that rejects the Islamic teachings, and the values of democratic, progressive, and inclusive societies. It has brought societies to the brinks of war, and stifled their economic development and hampered progress. The human suffering and deprivation propagated by violent extremist ideologies are clearly seen across various conflict zones around the world.
In order to tackle these challenges, our counter-terrorism efforts need to be part of a global, comprehensive approach. In this regard, the Maldives applaudes the efforts of the Secretary General in establishing the new Office of Counter-Terrorism and the plan of action in preventing violent extremism. It is important that the new office forges a strong partnership with member States and implement the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy in a balanced manner.
The spread of violent extremist ideology poses a serious security threat to small states, such as the Maldives. As a result, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has adopted a comprehensive policy, which has been passed by the Parliament. The policy unequivocally condemns all forms of support for, and participation in, any acts of terrorism and violent extremism. It takes a whole of the government approach, integrating resources and expertise of all of the State institutions. The policy is implemented at island, regional, and national levels. One important legislative instrument that is employed in implementing the policy is the enactement of the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2015. This Act enables law enforcement agencies and the prosecuting authorities to specifically address foreign terrorist fighters and those providing financial or material support to terrorist or violent extremist organisations. The Maldives has also enacted an Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act in 2015, which gives expanded authority to the investigative agencies to hunt down any activity suspected of links with suspected terrorists.
The establishment of the of the National Counter Terrorism Centre in 2016, marks yet another positive development, This agency functions at the apex level, and provides a common platform to facilitate information and intelligence sharing, and synchronization of inter-agency activities.
In October of 2016, the Maldives hosted the first international seminar focused on counter terrorism and violent extremism. We are glad to note that our effort was very positively received and several countries accepted our invitation. The seminar enabled the Maldives to establish an international network to facilitate further collaboration.
Through the National Counter Terrorism Centre, we have also conducted the baseline study of violent extremism and terrorism, as well as a study on the contributing factors to radicalization. We have also expanded international collaboration, intelligence and information sharing and cooperation with international security partners.
The fight against violent extremism begins at the community level. Violent extremist ideologies propagate when communities are divided, and societal fault-lines exist. We must bridge the divide between the notion of "us" and "them" and redouble our efforts to foster shared values. Diversity, pluralism, respect and inclusion must be at the centre of all our policies. It is through adopting these policies that we can effectively combat the scourge of violent extremism.
The Maldives and other small states remain uniquely vulnerable to the threats of terrorism and violent extremism. Ironically, it is our countries which are most under-respresented in the influential international organizations, which make the most crucial decisions on these issues. For that reason, the Maldives is seeking to serve on the UN Security Council in the term 2019-2020, and we hope to be successful in our bid, with your support, of course. The Maldives believes that it can contribute to the global efforts in countering violent extremism.
Violent extremism and terrorism strive to drive a sharp divide between "us" and "them". But if we unite together and strengthen our cooperation, we can defeat the menace.