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Harnessing the power of quality education – key for strengthening global action to prevent violent extremism

On 29 June 2018, UNESCO joined the High-level side event “Harnessing the Power of Quality Education to prevent Violent Extremism”, held at the Institute of International Education in New York, at the margins of the sixth biennial Review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.


The High-level event was organized by the Permanent Missions of Belgium and the State of Qatar to the United Nations, the Education Above All Foundation (EEA), and the Hamad Bin Khalifa University, member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. The discussion brought together distinguished ambassadors, representatives of the diplomatic community, UN system, civil society and education experts, to highlight the crucial role of education in the prevention of violent extremism and countering radicalization and violent propaganda.


Addressing the participants, Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, outlined the crucial role of education in the prevention of violent extremism by strengthening learners’ resistance to violent extremist messages. Education creates the conditions that counter the spread of violent extremist ideas. To this end, she highlighted UNESCO’s Global Citizenship Education (GCED) programme programme that focuses on teaching values and installing behaviors for living in a world of diversity and change. Finally, Ms Giannini underscored the importance of cooperation with international partners, especially during conflict, as “tackling violent extremism requires coordinated action and joint efforts”.


In the following expert roundtable on Harnessing the Power of Quality Education to Prevent Violent Extremism, participants shared information, best practices, research and activities on strengthening global action to prevent violent extremism, including by the engagement of youth. Professor Lynn Davis (Emeritus Professor of International Education at the University of Birmingham) emphasized that education is particularly important in teaching critical thinking and ensuring a transmission of universal values. Dr Reem Al Ansari (Professor of Law, Qatar University) linked the topic of the discussion with the rule of law and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal 16, and stressed that education is a part of remedy, but it should be done in a holistic framework as well as in respect to legal instruments. Mubarak Al Thani (Head of Advocacy, Education Above All Foundation) outlined that education is a powerful weapon against poverty, radicalization and conflict, emphasizing that the provision of quality education should be an integral part of the development assistance in conflict and post-conflict processes.


The event featured further interventions by Ambassador Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve (Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations), Abdulrahman Yaaqob Y. A. Al-Hamadi (Deputy Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations), Dr. Ahmad M. Hasnah (President and Ex-officio Member, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, State of Qatar), Virginia Gamba, (UN Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict), Michèle Coninsx (Assistant Secretary-General, Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED)).