SOAS University of London

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urges fight against terrorism while protecting human rights

16 November 2017

António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, addressed SOAS University of London students on countering terrorism and protecting human rights in a major public talk, followed by discussion and Q&A with SOAS Director Baroness Valerie Amos CH.

UN Secretary General - Antonio Guterres

In his speech Mr Guterres outlined the need for much stronger international cooperation on counter-terrorism and a sustained focus on prevention.

He also spoke of the importance of upholding human rights and the rule of law to prevent a vicious circle of instability and resentment.

Mr Guterres said: “Terrorism is fundamentally the denial and destruction of human rights [and] the fight against terrorism will never succeed by perpetuating the same denial and destruction.”

He added we must relentlessly fight terrorism to protect human rights as “at the same time, when we protect human rights, we are tackling the root causes of terrorism. For the power of human rights to bond is stronger than the power of terrorism to devastate.”

Later in the talk he spoke of winning the “battle of ideas” saying “we should build a new age of enlightenment.”

Mr Guterres said: “We must address messages of hate with inclusivity, diversity, the protection of minorities and vulnerable people.

“We need to invest in social cohesion, education and inclusive societies where diversity is perceived as a richness, not a threat, and where everybody feels that his or her identity is respected and that they fully belong to the community as a whole.”

UN Secretary General - Antonio Guterres with students

António Guterres with Baroness Amos and students at SOAS University of London

The talk took place at SOAS and formed the second in series of three major public talks by the Secretary-General – the first of which took place at New York University earlier this year in May. Watch the video on YouTube.

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres at SOAS