Australia’s pledge to provide funding for the recently established Commonwealth initiative to counter violent extremism has been formally documented in a memorandum of understanding (MoU). It was signed by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, and the Australian high commissioner, Alexander Downer.
The deputy secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ewen McDonald, was also present at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth Secretariat headquarters in London.
Under the terms of the MoU, Australia commits to providing AUS$2.5million over four years to support the work of the Commonwealth Countering Violent Extremism Unit.
Following the signing, which took place on 10 November, High Commissioner Downer said, “I’m delighted to be signing this agreement with the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. The Australian government is very pleased to be supporting the unit within the Commonwealth Secretariat, dedicated to countering violent extremism.
“We see the Commonwealth as having a really important role to play, in particular in benchmarking the policies that are pursued by Commonwealth countries to counter violent extremism. So we are happy to be proving financial support and moral and political support for this project.”
In her response, Secretary-General Scotland said, “Signing this memorandum of understanding with His Excellency is a propitious moment for the Commonwealth Secretariat, and we are extremely grateful to Australia who have supported us on so many issues for this contribution to our work on countering violent extremism, a scourge with which so many of our member countries are having to grapple.”
Head of the Commonwealth Countering Violent Extremism unit, Mark Albon, added, “Australia has made an important financial contribution to the consolidation of the Commonwealth’s efforts to support member countries in their efforts to counter violent extremism. Australia also has a great deal of technical and human expertise upon which we hope to draw as we expand the capacity building and experience sharing activities with those Commonwealth countries dealing with ongoing threats of violent extremism.”