Home News Prime Minister David Cameron announces £5 million fund for Commonwealth Counter-Extremism Unit

Prime Minister David Cameron announces £5 million fund for Commonwealth Counter-Extremism Unit

by Brian Sims
Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron is setting aside £5 million of UK Government funding in order to establish and support a new Commonwealth Counter-Extremism Unit. As part of the Government’s comprehensive strategy for tackling the scourge of extremism, the Prime Minister wants to increase co-operation with countries around the world to share Best Practice and identify new approaches for countering poisonous ideologies.

A team of experts will be seconded into a new unit in the Commonwealth Secretariat to work with civil society networks and Commonwealth Governments in support of national, regional and international counter-extremism strategies. One of the foremost priorities for the new operation will be to develop capacity-building through non-Governmental organisations.

The Conservative Government is fully committed to working with Commonwealth countries in order to tackle the common threat posed by violent extremism.

The new Commonwealth Counter-Extremism Unit will support work in all Commonwealth countries, but in particular those facing a disproportionately high number of foreign fighters and which might not have adequate counter-extremism resources of their own. Support will include facilitating technical counter-terrorism expertise.

In conjunction with this new unit, the Prime Minister has also announced £200,000 of seed funding to expand the recently-established European counter-radicalisation youth network and encompass all Commonwealth countries. The newly-expanded youth network will capitalise on the organisation’s existing networks to support moderate youth voices in countering violent extremist messaging.

Building counter-narratives

Speaking about these plans, David Cameron explained: “The fight against extremism is something that affects us all. The Commonwealth has a vital role to play in broadening international efforts to counter that extremism. Its civil society and education networks make it particularly well placed to complement international efforts designed to build counter-narratives to poisonous extremist ideologies. This is the struggle of our generation, but by working together we will defeat this extremist scourge that represents a threat to us all.”

The UK is part of the Global Coalition of 63 nations working together to dismantle and destroy the threat of ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as Islamic State or ISIS).

To assist the Iraqi Government, British forces have conducted air operations across the country against ISIL targets. The UK’s military response is part of a wider international strategy involving a coalition of more than 60 countries, including the United States, Arab and European nations.

In addition, the UK Government is providing just shy of £60 million in humanitarian aid to support those people across Iraq who have fled from ISIL.

Cameron urges Commonwealth to play leading role in fight against corruption

The Prime Minister has also urged Commonwealth countries to lead the fight against corruption. He was speaking at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta on 28 November ahead of a landmark conference on the issue to be held in the UK next year.

The Prime Minister brought together nine countries to discuss how to address the challenge of corruption and its role in holding back progress around economic growth and the development of peaceful, all-inclusive societies.

David Cameron co-chaired an event with President Khama of Botswana, host country of the Commonwealth’s Anti-Corruption Centre, with leaders and foreign ministers from Canada, Australia, Ghana, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore and Malta all in attendance.

The Prime Minister told attendees he believes corruption to be one of the greatest enemies of our time and that, when it comes to tackling this issue, the international community has “looked the other way” for too long.

The meeting focused on three main issues:

*the importance of anti-corruption in supporting growth, boosting development, ensuring security and protecting the environment

*reasons why anti-corruption hasn’t been addressed effectively so far (including the lack of political will to do so)

*methods for confronting and tackling the issue in the future

In particular, the focus is on fighting corruption through transparency (for example, by way of company beneficial ownership), good governance and accountability and increased international co-operation (involving, for instance, better law enforcement).

The Prime Minister acknowledged that all countries – including the UK – need to do more to tackle the issue at home, and highlighted the particular role that the Commonwealth can play as an organisation whose members share the same values.

Focusing on international action

The 2016 Summit will bring together leaders from across the world and focus attentions on international action to meet the following key objectives: deterring corruption, ending impunity for those who commit corruption and supporting and empowering those who have suffered from its occurrence.

The UK will invite representatives from G20 countries, the leading international organisations in this field – including the United Nations, the World Bank, the OECD and the International Monetary Fund – and a wide range of other nations leading the fight against global corruption or that have a pivotal role to play in strengthening the international response to corruption.

Corruption adds 10% to business costs on a global basis. Cutting its occurrence by that same figure could benefit the global economy by no less than $380 billion every year.

David Cameron concluded: “The UK has been a world leader in the fight to tackle corruption. Corruption is an evil in itself, but also exacerbates other global challenges such as poverty and extremism. Rooting out corruption is crucial to future global prosperity and security. The 2016 Summit represents an important opportunity for the international community to join forces and agree on practical action designed to beat the cancer of corruption.”

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