The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies welcomes the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism presented by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon last week. CIHRS particularly welcomes the UNSG acknowledgment that over the last decade there was a strong emphasis on the security dimension of fighting terrorism which came at the expense of another essential dimensions of fighting terrorism such as respecting human rights and upholding the rule of law.
For over a decade, experts and human rights NGOs, including CIHRS, have asserted that respecting human rights while countering terrorism holds more than a nominal value, and that violations of human rights is a significant contributor to the process of radicalization towards violent extremism. As outlined by the UNSG “Violent extremists also actively seek to exploit state repression and other grievances in their fight against the state. Thus, Governments that exhibit repressive and heavy-handed security responses in violation of human rights and the rule of law… tend to generate more violent extremists.”
The UN Plan of Action constitutes an indirect call for some Arab government and their international backers to revise their counter terrorism and violent extremism strategies, which have demonstrated their failure over the past decade in respecting human rights as well as in preventing the proliferation of terrorism. In line with the Plan of Action, CIHRS reiterates that States are obligated by international law to base all their legislations, policies, and strategies aimed at preventing violent extremism on respect of human rights and upholding the rule of law.
A key recommendation by the UNSG is the creation of national monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to review national strategies on preventing violent extremism, and as such, CIHRS calls upon Arab governments to establish said mechanism with the participation of human rights NGOs.
Furthermore, the transformation of the Plan of Action into concrete actions necessitates the establishment of UN mechanisms to ensure the compatibility of national strategies designed to prevent violent extremism with international standards and human rights obligations. Those mechanisms are the only guarantee that a global, comprehensive, and holistic strategy would be executed in order to adequately address the ever-growing threat of violent extremism in all its forms.
Stemming from this conviction, CIHRS has suggested a number of UN mechanisms that were presented at an expert workshop titled “Human Rights and Countering Violent Extremism”, held in New York in collaboration with Human Rights First on the margins of the Leaders Summit to counter ISIL and Violent Extremism in September 2015.
 The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, “26 Rights organizations in an open letter to Arab Monarchs and Presidents: ISIS is the offspring of repressive policies and practices as well as the prevailing religious discourse in the Arab World”, https://cihrs.org/?p=14737&lang=en
and President Obama Urged to Underscore Link Between Repression and Rising Violent Extremism During Leaders’ Summit”, https://cihrs.org/?p=17357&lang=en
Fore more details, please visit https://cihrs.org/?lang=en
 The outcomes of the workshop and a detailed outline of the suggested mechanisms will appear in a book published by CIHRS in February 2016
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