Balance fight against radicalization with human rights, UN chief says

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wraps up his visit to Canada with a tour of Montreal's anti-radicalization centre.

Ban Ki-moon wraps up Canadian visit with plea for respect of fundamental liberties

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, left, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon touring Montreal's anti-radicalization centre. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The fight against radicalization must be balanced with the protection of human rights, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday as he wrapped up his visit to Canada.

Ban spent the morning touring Montreal's anti-radicalization centre, which opened last year, alongside Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.

He commended the city's initiative in the fight against radicalization. Ban said the centre would contribute to a more "effective and coherent" effort to combat violent extremism.

But the UN chief also cautioned against sacrificing fundamental liberties while pursuing greater security from extremist threats.  

"One of the important points that I would like to emphasize at this time in addressing or countering, preventing extremism and radicalization, is that we should place the highest priority in protecting and promoting human rights," Ban told reporters.

"We agree that we should mobilize all legitimate resources in countering terrorism and extremism but at the same time, human rights and human dignity should be placed on top."

Radicalization emerged as a prominent theme of Ban's visit to Montreal. He also discussed the issue with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard in a meeting Friday night.

$500,000 for anti-radicalization conference

Following that meeting, Couillard announced that Quebec will spend $500,000 to host an international conference next fall dedicated to combating radicalization.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, right, talks with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Montreal on Friday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

"We are committing ourselves to promote the sharing of expertise in the fight against radicalization by supporting constructive dialogue and solid partnerships," Couillard said in a news release.

The conference will be focused, in particular, on radicalization over the internet. Couillard said the province will collaborate with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in organizing the event.

Ban met earlier this week with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, before visiting Montreal City Hall and McGill University on Friday.

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