Youth from around the world discuss solutions for a more secure world free from violent extremism
Students and youth from numerous countries and a diverse ethnic background exchanged views on the future of counter-terrorism at a Global Youth Town Hall organized by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), through its International Hub on Behavioral Insights to Counter Terrorism, on March 29.
The hybrid event - “Together, Building A Future Without Terrorism” - was hosted by Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) on their campus in Education City, and with participants joining virtually from around the world.
Students from HBKU, Georgetown University in Qatar (GUQ), and Northwestern University in Qatar attended in person with participants from all around the world taking part online. GUQ student Maryam Al-Thani moderated the youth-centered dialogue, which aimed to enhance their understanding of the individual, contextual, and structural factors and behaviors that affect violent extremist actions. It was also an opportunity for them to engage around the current and future multilateral efforts by the UN and its Member States to achieve a world free from terrorism.
The Town Hall began with opening remarks from UNOCT Under-Secretary-General, Mr. Vladimir Voronkov, HE Dr. Majed Al-Ansari, Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State of Qatar, speaking on the vision of a future without terrorism, and HE Agustín Santos Maraver, Spain’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, who emphasized the role of civil society and the protection of human rights.
With inclusive discussion at the heart of the event, the Global Town Hall featured a Q&A with Dr. Raffi Gregorian, Director and Deputy to the USG. In the “Food for Thought” segment, participants interacted with a social scientist, prevention of violent extremism (PVE) practitioner, and youth leader, including Dr. Mareike Schomerus, Vice President of the Busara Center, Afra Cader, UNOCT/UNCCT Youth Engagement Empowerment Programme alumna, and Amjid Khazir, Founder of Media Cultured. Their short talks applied a behavioral science lens to shed light on the connection between human psychology and behavior, misinformation, and radicalization.
The event concluded with a push for more youth engagement. During the final segment, “My Question to You…” delivered by Dr. Gregorian, participants shared their views on priorities for ensuring a future without terrorism.
After the event, Dr. Leslie Pal, Founding Dean of CPP, HBKU, said: “I am delighted that HBKU could host the Global Youth Town Hall and be part of UNOCT’s international cooperation effort to give youth a visible platform to advocate for positive change. The event objectives reflect our positioning as a leading research university shaping youth as change-makers who advance social and human progress.
“Initiatives such as the “Educate to Eradicate” forums at HBKU broadly aim to tackle extremism at its roots. Given the complexity of the challenge, education must play a positive role in addressing the social, economic, cultural, and other factors that create the conditions for extremism. It’s also clear that innovation and critical thinking among youth are vital, and events such as this Global Youth Town Hall encourage the capacities that countries need.”