ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Policies aimed at countering terrorism and extremism in Central Asia must encompass all segments of society, particularly those that have been mariginalised historically, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Tuesday (June 13).
"Policies that limit human rights only end up alienating religious and ethnic communities, who would normally have every interest in fighting extremism," he said at a high-level meeting he chaired in Ashgabat focused on counter-terrorism strategies in Central Asia.
His speech came as ministers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan adopted a joint declaration on strengthening regional anti-terror efforts.
"Acknowledging and respecting people's dignity and rights -- including their frustrations and critical opinions -- help to combat extremism by building social cohesion and a sense of the common good," said Guterres.
A transnational threat requires a multilateral solution
The threat from terrorism and violent extremism has become increasingly transnational, enabling and inspiring attacks and radicalising individuals, particularly youth, outside of conflict zones, according to the UN News Centre.
Multilateral solutions are therefore essential for successfully addressing these challenges, said Guterres, who thanked the participating countries for their "commitment to jointly addressing and defeating the scourge of terrorism".
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in 2011 adopted the Ashgabat Declaration and the Joint Plan of Action for the Implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia.
The UN chief urged the countries to continue to work together on countering terror financiers, enhancing border security, nurturing dialogue with religious institutions and leaders, and highlighting the role of the media in addressing terrorism and violent extremism.
"Central Asia has the opportunity to show global leadership by developing national and possibly a regional plan of action to prevent violent extremism," Guterres said.
The UN secretary-general's visit to the region began June 8 in Kazakhstan. He flew to Kyrgyzstan June 11.