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UN Secretary-General: Address Extremists' 'Aspirations' to Stop Terrorism

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters Wednesday that listening to people’s aspirations can stop them from becoming terrorists.

“Countering terrorism and extremism has surfaced and emerged as one of the top, most serious issues, which we have to deal with,” Ban said. “In that regard, I really appreciate many countries participating in coalitions, and their contribution is very important.”

“At the same time, I have been asking them to observe strictly the international humanitarian and international human rights laws to protect… not to [cause] the civilian casualties.”

In another aspect, the secretary-general said, “we have to also address the root causes — enhancing, improving, good governance of the leaders of the concerned countries and listening very seriously to the voices and aspirations of their own people through inclusive dialogue.”

“There are some countries who are lacking such capacities, particularly; therefore, United Nations through this Counter-Terrorism Centre is really trying to provide capacity-building support as much as we can, and that is why I’m trying to present as soon as possible during the month of January the Comprehensive Plan of Action to counter extremism and terrorism.”

Ban noted “there are many armed groups” now in Syria and the Vienna negotiations for a political settlement to the war “are trying to define and exactly find out who are the terrorist groups, who are the armed groups.”

The Jordanian government has been tasked with that mission, he said.

“This issue will be a continuing subject now,” Ban added. “And I also appreciate that Syrian… Saudi Arabia has convened a meeting last week among the Syrian armed groups. I sincerely hope that there should be some unity of purpose among the parties concerned so that we can more effectively address this challenge of countering terrorism.”

On terrorism: “One root cause would be abject poverty, lack of good governance. When there is a complete despair among the people, when there is a complete disregard by the leaders on the wishes and aspirations of the people, then people try to find other ways to address their own difficulties and concerns and sufferings. Nobody wants to suffer from any reason, whether it is poverty, disease, or abuse of authorities or abuse of power. That’s why I’ve been always asking that good governance and inclusive dialogue and addressing abject poverty, those are the answers.”

The secretary-general insisted “we can find answers when you just trace back the root causes and drivers of all these foreign terrorist fighters.”

“One or two or three factors have driven them to flee, to migrate, or to become radical or to become very radical forces,” he said. “And, therefore, we have to address all this in sync, in close coordination. That is why, even though we are living in this world of peril, but I think world leaders have provided some good sense of promise and hope.”

Ban predicted 2015 “will be recorded as one of the most important historic years in the history of the United Nations, where we have laid out all good foundations.”