Despite the international community's efforts to stop terrorism and stem the flow of foreign fighters joining the terrorist organization that calls itself the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the number of fighters has more than doubled in a year and a half. It is estimated that over 30,000 individuals from over 100 countries--more than half of all of the United Nations Member States--have joined the ranks of ISIL as foreign terrorist fighters.
Nothing can ever justify an act of terrorism. No religious pretext can ever excuse violent methods. At the same time, we will never be able to defeat terrorism long term unless we address conditions conducive to its spread. Several Security Council resolutions pertaining to the most serious threats to international peace and security generally, and to terrorism specifically, have underlined this, inter alia, in Security Council resolutions 1963 (2010), and 2129 (2013). The first pillar of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (A/RES/60/288) also resolves to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism. More recently, the Secretary-General's Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (A/70/674) elaborates on what some of these conditions may be: lack of socioeconomic opportunities; marginalization and discrimination; poor governance, violations of human rights and the rule of law; prolonged and unresolved conflicts; and radicalization in prisons.
In September 2015, the world's leaders agreed to the next generation of development-related goals, and on 1 January 2016, the 17 ambitious global objectives that collectively go by the name of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) came into effect. Crucial in their own right as a means to galvanize the international community's efforts to tackle serious development-related challenges ahead, the SDGs can also directly and indirectly help our efforts to counter terrorism by addressing conditions conducive to its spread.
The first of the 17 SDGs aims to "end poverty in all its forms everywhere." Extreme poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 1990. While this is a remarkable achievement, one in five people in developing countries still live on less than US $1.25 a day, and millions more make just above this daily amount. Poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. It also takes the form of hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education...