My delegation welcomes the opportunity to participate in today’s debate on a very important subject of peace – fostering a culture of peace.
We see today’s meeting as an opportunity to reaffirm the purposes and principles of the Charter, which have been immaculately summed up in the resolutions set for adoption.
Like many delegations in this august Chamber, we are deeply concerned about the growing wave of extremism, violence and conflicts that are engulfing many societies, including Africa’s, whose people – have for the past 400 years – endured the horrors of slavery, colonialism, apartheid, resource plunder, chronic poverty and protracted conflicts.
In joining the United Nations Organization, our young independent nations firmly believed that our people and countries would never again – see conflicts and wars that have repeatedly brought untold sorrow to humankind. Yet, we continue to witness such horrors and their attendant ramifications, including the recent unprecedented migration and refugee crisis in Europe and other parts of the world.
What is more shocking is the emergence of non-state actors, whose brutal transnational operations pose an imminent threat to our collective security. Terrorist groups such as ISIL, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and others are everyone’s worst nightmare. Yet, we cannot simply wish them away. We need to act collectively and resolutely to suppress their criminal activities by blocking their means of survival, namely: weapons, funds, supporters and ideology.
It is worth recalling that military measures are not – by themselves – an antidote of terrorism. Far from it! As the Secretary-General has once reminded us: “missiles may kill terrorists, but good governance kill terrorism.” Military measures can only lead to further radicalization and spread of violent extremism, dispersal of the problem, and an upsurge of terror sympathizers. In addition to good governance, at all levels, we need to promote inclusive economic development, eliminate all forms of discrimination, eradicate poverty in all its forms, end illiteracy, and reduce inequalities within and among nations. We also need to strengthen local, national, regional and international institutions, improve global governance, and silence the guns.
We would like to underscore the importance of international cooperation in addressing violent extremism, especially by tackling the root causes. We welcome several interventions to this end, including those spearheaded by the United Nations entities at regional and national levels. We wish to underscore however that these interventions must take into account national and regional contexts and priorities. Whereas some countries may require assistance to build or rebuild national institutions others may wish to focus their attention on socio-economic ways of addressing the underlying causes of violent extremism.
For instance, Tanzania attaches great importance on youth empowerment as a means of addressing violent extremism. Consequently, we recognize and appreciate the important role of education in nurturing the competencies of tomorrow’s global citizens, including their aptitude to understand others, empathize, think critically and exchange ideas peacefully. When we empower the youth with the relevant knowledge and skills on mutual respect and tolerance as well as the responsible use of Internet and social media; we literally open up a window of opportunities for employment and decent work, constructive engagement and self-affirmation. By the same token, this investment can prevent their involvement in nefarious activities. It can also limit the likelihood of their succumbing to terror networks, which increasingly use the Internet and social media to foment extremism and radicalism, especially among young people.
Likewise, we are fully aware of the important role of faith-based organizations and religious leaders who exhibit tremendous influence in our communities. It is important therefore, to engage them in our efforts for fostering a culture of peace, mutual respect and tolerance. Tanzania has witnessed first-hand the effectiveness of interfaith dialogue in addressing a myriad of challenges facing our communities, including violence and violent extremism. Among the lessons learned is that associating any religion with terrorism can undermine trust, mutual respect and cooperation, which are necessary precepts for defeating extremism and radicalism.
In addition, we must take full advantage of all social, cultural and diplomatic tools at our disposal for building tolerant and responsible societies. We believe that tourism can be an important vehicle for cultural dialogue and mutual understanding among the peoples of the world. Tanzania welcomes cultural tourists from all corners of the world to visit our country and intermingle with our people, enjoying their food, music, sports, legends and rich traditions. We have also opened our doors for cultural diplomacy, whereby many countries have established cultural centers in the country. We are ready to learn from other cultures without necessarily abandoning our own!
I could not conclude my statement without expressing our utter dismay on the escalation of the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage as part of a cultural cleansing strategy. We note that such acts may constitute a war crime. We thus call for the perpetrators to be held accountable. We also call for the return of stolen artefacts to their countries of origin and restoration or rehabilitation of damaged heritage cites. UNESCO’s work in this regard is indeed commendable. Finally, we wish to reaffirm Tanzania’s readiness to work with other Members of this Organization, the United Nations System and other stakeholders in formulating, implementing and strengthening measures aimed at fostering a culture of peace at all levels. We keenly await in this regard, the finalization of the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action for Preventing Violent Extremism. As Mwalimu Nyerere, the founder of the independent Tanzania once remarked: “Violence is unnecessary and costly. Peace is the only way”. Let us invest in peace.
I thank you for your kind attention.