Empowering youth at all levels key to countering violent extremism, conclude participants at OSCE-supported discussion in Tunis

Preventing and countering violent extremism was the focus of a regional roundtable discussion for North African Youth from OSCE Mediterranean Partner Countries Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia, as well and Libya, which concluded today in Tunis.

“There is an enormous need to consult and empower youth at national, regional and global levels. It is the key to countering violent extremism,” concluded participants at a discussion hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia and the 2016 Austrian Chairmanship of the OSCE Mediterranean Contact Group, with the support of the Permanent Mission of Italy to the OSCE, the OSCE Transnational Threats Department and the External Co-operation Section.

“Terrorism is not only an issue in Muslim countries. Unemployed people, youth without perspectives for the future, marginalized individuals, are all easy prey for terrorist recruiters whether South or North of the Mediterranean. This is a common challenge we must face together,” said Ambassador Samia Zouari of the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The views and recommendations from the discussion will be presented to to the OSCE Group of Contact with the Mediterranean Partners in June in Vienna and will also contribute to the outcome of the 2016 OSCE-wide Counter Terrorism Conference which will take place on 30 May to 1 June in Berlin. “Youth has to make its voice heard and we are here today to support that effort. Concrete experiences of young people in countering violent extremism are extremely important and must be acknowledged,” said Austrian Ambassador to Tunisia Gerhard Weinberger.

The OSCE Ministerial Council Declaration on Preventing and Countering Violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism (VERLT) invites OSCE Partners for Co-operation to actively engage with OSCE participating States to further strengthen their dialogue and co-operation in preventing and countering VERLT.

Anna Katharina Deininger, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office on Youth and Security, said: “Many youth participants felt there is a trust gap between young people and the authorities, from the bottom to the top. Local youth councils can help close this gap to promote youth participation in public life and address some of the very issues linked to the spread of violent extremism.”

OSCE United in Countering Violent Extremism (#UnitedCVE) campaign highlights the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to preventing violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism.