Statement by H.E. Mr. Margus Kolga, Permanent Representative of Estonia on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the High Level Debate on Promoting Tolerance and and Reconciliation and Countering Violent Extremism
President, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and
Lithuania. We thank the President of the General Assembly, the UN Secretary
General and High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations for the
opportunity to discuss the issue of tolerance and violent extremism. Estonia,
Latvia and Lithuania align themselves with the statements delivered by the
Latvia and Lithuania are gravely concerned about the recent rise of radicalization
and violent extremism which crosses state boundaries and poses a threat to
countries far from conflict zones. Therefore, today’s discussion here at the
General Assembly is most timely.
are of the firm opinion that good
governance, respect for human rights and promotion
of tolerance within society
are the best tools for prevention of violent conflicts and violent extremism.
People should have different ways of expressing themselves and their opinion rather
than resorting to violence. Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is
unjustifiable regardless of the motivation.
need to actively shape inclusive societies as guarantees for peace and
security, namely to the rule of law, if necessary, by designing particular
policies and programmes that advance the inclusiveness of all. Strong adherence
to the rule of law encourages sustainable development, as progress is best guaranteed by good governance, transparency of
decision-making and minimization of corruption. Effective and accountable
institutions are powerful enablers of inclusive societies. At the same time the
preventative nature of strong and consistent rule of law institutions will lead
to a reduction of the risk of further conflicts.
Tolerance is the underlying
principle of human rights: we should respect all human beings regardless of
their sex, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, political or other opinion,
religion, sexual orientation or other status etc.
As to the concept of inclusive societies, I would like
to stress the importance of including women and girls in the decision making
As stated in the concept note of the event: of the
world`s seven billion people, more than 5 billion identify themselves as
members of religious communities. Sadly, as we know, religious background is
often associated with the cause of violent conflicts and used as an excuse for
violence. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania firmly believe that violent extremism
cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, or
civilization. No religion or cultural background should be used as an excuse or
pretext for resorting to violence. Terrorism needs a global response. Only intensive,
close and well-coordinated cooperation between nations and international
organisations can bring results.
We have to urgently, as stated in the concept note,
“counter the destructive narratives of extremists who thrive on simplistic
explanations, mistrust and fragmentations”. In this regard, the religious
leaders play a key role in preventing violent conflicts based on religion and
belief and in explaining that respecting human rights and respecting the
religion are not mutually exclusive but rather support each other. As pointed
out by scholars, the Golden Rule, inherent to many different religions – “Don`t
do others what you don`t want to be done to you” is also fully
in accordance with the concept of human rights.
In order to minimize the threat of violent extremism,
we must address the conditions conducive to its spreading. We can more
effectively counter violent extremism by addressing it as a horizontal
cross-cutting issue. Besides strengthening legal systems, reducing poverty and
tackling the development-security nexus, allow me also to stress the importance
of education: in fostering tolerant, inclusive societies, it is crucial to
engage with young people.
In conclusion, our three
states firmly believe that the UN plays an indispensable role as global forum
for interaction between the nations of the world, between people with different
cultural and religious backgrounds. We are looking forward to the discussions
Thank you very much, Mister President.