YB Dato’ Sri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, Deputy Foreign Minister of Malaysia, undertook a working visit to New York to attend meetings of the United Nations at the General Assembly and the Security Council.
On 11 May 2016, YB Deputy Foreign Minister participated in a UN Security Council Ministerial Level Open Debate on “Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by the Terrorist Acts: Countering the Narratives and Ideologies of Terrorism”. The Open Debate was chaired by H.E. Sameh Shoukry, Foreign Minister of Egypt, as the current President of the Security Council.
The meeting received briefings from UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-General of Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy Mr. Mohi El-Din Afifi, as well as Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Microsoft Corporation Mr. Steven A.Crown, who shared views and experiences to galvanise international efforts to counter the terrorists’ narratives and ideologies.
In a statement delivered by YB Deputy Foreign Minister at the Open Debate, he stressed that terrorism and violent extremism are global threats that transcend cultures, religions and geo-political boundaries. He rejected any association of terrorism and violent extremism with any one religion, nationality or ethnic group. However, he highlighted the need for Muslims to acknowledge and address the exploitation of Islam by terrorist groups that had led to the perceived link between terrorism and Islam.
YB Deputy Foreign Minister strongly denounced claims by terrorists that their barbarity is sanctioned by Islam and highlighted clear injunctions from the Holy Quran on peace, justice and honourable conduct. He also underscored the need to address the root causes of terrorism, which had created a conducive environment that feeds into the terrorists’ narrative, such as prolonged and grievous injustice, gross violations of human rights, and foreign occupation. Thus, in countering the terrorists’ narrative, YB Deputy Foreign Minister viewed it crucial to remove the underlying root causes in order to expose the fallacy of the terrorists’ arguments and diminish their “soft power” in manipulating socio-political grievances to gain sympathy and recruit foreign terrorist fighters worldwide.
In reacting to global and indiscriminate terrorist attacks, YB Deputy Foreign Minister called on the international community not to engage in “hysterical responses” that could divide the societies, such as by discriminating against a group of people for their peaceful religious beliefs, or branding the whole group of people as terrorists, since doing so would merely perpetuate terror and paranoia.
Other than YB Deputy Foreign Minister, high-level attendees at the Open Debate consisted of the Foreign Ministers of New Zealand, Norway, Netherlands, Argentina, Sweden, Somalia, and Iceland, as well as Deputy/Vice Foreign Ministers of Japan, Spain, and Denmark.
As an outcome of the Open Debate, the Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement, which, among others, called for the UN to take the lead in promulgating a comprehensive international strategy on countering the narratives and ideologies of the terrorist groups by 30 April 2017.
Meanwhile, on 10 May 2016, YB Deputy Foreign Minister participated in the High-Level Thematic Debate at the UN General Assembly on the issue of peace and security entitled “In a World of Risks: a New Commitment for Peace”.
In his statement at the High-Level Thematic Debate, YB Deputy Foreign Minister reaffirmed Malaysia’s commitment to UN peacekeeping, premised on the principles of collective security and peaceful settlement of disputes. He highlighted the principle and approach of moderation to promote an inclusive society and shape the agenda for peace, harmony and stability. He also emphasised on the importance of partnerships between the United Nations and regional/sub-regional organisations in the maintenance of peace and security, including ASEAN.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Eliassan delivered a statement on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the meeting and stressed the need for the UN to undergo policy reviews focusing on prevention, long-term political solutions and solid partnerships to address the increasingly challenging and complex global conflicts of today.
Among UN member states who were represented at the Minister or Deputy/Vice-Minister level at the High-Level Thematic Debate included Egypt, Sweden, Argentina, Mexico, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, the Netherlands, Iceland, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Denmark.
Malaysia’s high-level participation in the above meetings reflected our strong commitment to cooperate closely with the UN on various issues of global concerns, particularly relating to the maintenance of peace and security.