Kerry speaks at Countering Violent Extremism summit

U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry | Courtesy of the U.S. State Department

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke Thursday at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, highlighting the challenges the international community faces as he introduced United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The overarching theme of the summit was the danger violent and extremist ideologies pose to the international community and citizens of the world. He discussed the importance of preventing these groups from gaining traction and causing further harm.

Kerry highlighted places of education, employment and community that would be instrumental in this effort, saying schools, workplaces, village markets and places of worship provide people education and a sense of belonging.

Kerry also warned of the challenges that governments face against terrorist organizations.

"Now, we need to remember that our adversaries don’t have to cope with distractions," Kerry said. "They don’t have a broad set of responsibilities to fulfill. They don’t have the same institutional responsibilities that we do to meet the needs of our citizens. Terror is their obsession. It’s what they do. And if we let them, their singleness of purpose could actually wind up giving them a comparative advantage. But with the images of recent outbreaks fresh in our minds, everybody here knows we simply can’t let that happen. We have to match their commitment and we have to leave them with no advantage at all."

During the summit, government officials from around the world discussed strategies for defeating extremist groups.