Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Side-Event: Leveraging Partnerships and Strengthening Co-operation with Women to Counter and Prevent Violent Extremism and Terrorism in Africa

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Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
I am very pleased to join you here today, as one of the co-organizers of this side-event. Today, we are never immune from the threats of terrorism and violent extremism, whether we are in Africa, America, Asia, Europe, or any other part of the world. Addressing terrorism has increasingly become one of Japan's priorities as we gear up our preparations to host the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.
 
In our efforts to address terrorism, Japan has taken a ‘Whole-of-Society’ approach. With the understanding that terror attacks are merely a symptom of underlying causes, we must dig below the surface to find and address the root causes, which are often linked to grievance arising from exclusion, lack of opportunity or the absence of access to basic services, etcetera, and this naturally requires us to take a comprehensive, Whole-of-Society approach, whereby we see every component of a community, including and especially women, as a key agent for strengthening that community’s resilience. I see Japan’s Whole-of-Society approach aligning well with the "Dakar Call to Action".
 
Japan has been engaged in Africa's development, most tangibly through the TICAD process, which we launched back in 1993, soon after the end of the Cold War. Standing for the ‘Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development’, TICAD is a multilateral forum, which has the UN as a co-organizer and enjoys the participation of a wide range of stakeholders, including not only African countries, but also partner countries, international organizations, private companies and CSOs working on Africa’s development. Japan will be hosting TICAD7 next year, three years after TICADVI, which was held in Nairobi in 2016.
In advancing Africa's sustainable development agenda, social stability was identified as one of the three priorities in the Nairobi Declaration adopted at TICADVI. Needless to say, social stability — a precondition for sustainable development — can neither be achieved nor maintained under the continued threat of terrorism and violent extremism. What then is the best way to effectively address such daunting challenges?
 
Our answer is to engage different actors of society, including women. We recognize that women can be key players when they are empowered, as they should rightly be. I would like to add also that the Nairobi Implementation Plan, attached to the Nairobi Declaration, duly recognizes the need to harness women's networks to support efforts to prevent violent extremism.
 
In this regard, we are pleased to note that there are projects being implemented in Northern Mali and in the Far North of Cameroon, among others, both of which aim at addressing terrorism and violent extremism in line with the "Dakar Call to Action", also with our Whole-of-Society approach as well as with the Nairobi Declaration, with funds disbursed from the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, of which Japan has been a key supporter.
 
Moreover, in collaboration with UN-Women, Japan is on the front line in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism in Africa through our financial contributions to projects being implemented in Cameroon, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Nigeria. We honour our very important partnership with UN-Women and the women that we hope to protect and empower on one of the most difficult front lines in the world.
 
What we have learned through our joint efforts with UN-Women and other stakeholders is that root causes of terrorism cannot be addressed only with men, and that women must not be seen as vulnerable victims. In Africa, like in other parts of the world, women can play a key role in safeguarding the value of family and community, and thereby enhance their resilience. Moreover, women have the capacity to sense and identify the signals of radicalization at an early stage, and in addition, they are capable of developing counter-narratives against terrorism. I believe, therefore, that the active empowerment of women is one of the most effective ways to address the root causes of terrorism.
 
In closing, I would like to express our strong hope that more countries will align their approach with us to respond to the "Dakar Call to Action", which calls for more systematically engaging women, in order for them to able to fully play their role. The more countries that join in with an approach which engages women as key actors for peace, the more fruitful our efforts for counterterrorism and the prevention of violent extremism in Africa and beyond will become. 
 
Thank you.