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UN chief Ban Ki-moon proposes plan to prevent violent extremism

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has presented his plan to prevent violent extremism to the General Assembly. He asked countries to create national plans to counter violent ideologies.

Ban appealed to nations to move from "heavy handed" responses to the rise of extremists and to develop national plans going beyond military and security responses to groups such as the so-called "Islamic State" (IS).

"Many years of experience have proven that short-sighted policies, failed leadership, heavy-handed approaches, a single-minded focus only on security measures and an utter disregard for human rights have often made things worse," Ban said in his speech on Friday.

"We all lose by responding to ruthless terror with mindless policy - policies that turn people against each other, alienate already marginalized groups and play into the hands of the enemy," he added. "We need cool heads and common sense."

Among the 79 recommendations in his plans are measures to encourage foreign fighters who have joined IS to return home by offering them education and job opportunities. They also include improving education opportunities and human rights to counter the recruitment drives of IS and similar groups such as Boko Haram and Peru's "Shining Path."

Children in a 'Shining Path' training camp in Peru

Children in a 'Shining Path' training camp in Peru

"The international community has every right to defend against this threat using lawful means, but we must pay particular attention to addressing the causes of violent extremism," Ban told the General Assembly.

The plan also encourages governments to use social media to find ways to challenge the extremists' messages and develop plans to counter radicalization of recruits in prison.

An international conference is due to be held in April to review efforts to tackle the problem.

A new Secretary-General this year

Also on Friday, Croatia nominated Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic to replace Ban as the next Secretary General.

Macedonia has proposed diplomat and businessman Srgjan Kerim to succeed Ban when his second term ends later this year.

The current process is the first to use open nominations. The UN's first eight secretary generals were appointed after secretive negotiations and an election by the five, veto-wielding powers of the Security Council.

There have been calls for a more transparent and democratic election to find Ban's successor - with a number of countries calling for the UN to appoint its first female secretary-general.

jm/sms (AP, AFP)

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