Lessons learnt on countering violent extremism

Countering violent extremism (CVE) is a key priority for the international community. Traditional methods have sought to respond to these phenomena through a security framework, often leading to a military response to “counter” the threat posed by armed groups. However, this costly approach has yet to demonstrate its effectiveness, as it often increases rather than diffuses tension. From its experience working in 23 conflict zones worldwide, Interpeace has found that CVE strategies need to pay more attention to two key elements:
First, international actors need to understand violence from a local perspective. From 2005-2011 the international community responded to Somali piracy through increasing security upon vessels at great cost. Interpeace, realizing that the pirates held a monopoly of information and as such had presented themselves as freedom fighters combating Western imperialism, erected mobile audiovisual units and presented footage from other communities explaining how piracy contravened Somali and Muslim values. Following these screenings, local communities took action against the pirates themselves. Understanding local perspectives on violence is key to designing the right strategy and avoiding reinforcing the violent groups’ narrative.
Second, there needs to be a focus upon local resilience capacities. Interpeace’s experience shows that even in the most difficult situations, people develop coping capacities and strategies for peace. Take Libya: given the circumstances faced by Libyans it is perhaps surprising how much of the country remains relatively peaceful. Through documenting stable communities Interpeace’s ‘Peace mapping’ research has identified common factors of resilience. Communities which had strong leadership, community cohesion, positive and inclusive identity construction, and were willing to learn from other communities were more likely to remain peaceful. The international response should seek to build upon these strengths if it wishes to expand these islands of stability.

Source of information

The Invisibles

Departures in Syria: “The Invisibles”, a documentary to understand and spark debate. The film was screened for the first time on Tuesday in front of 200 young Brusselsers, at the KVS (the Flemish National Theater), before a debate launched with young people on this delicate subject. Two young students, a teacher and the mother of a teenager left in Syria … Four eyes meet to try to understand, to explain too.

It’s about listening to those who are not listening enough,” says director Christian Van Cutsem, hence the title “The Invisibles.

I see that in Brussels there is indeed an invisibility on these questions, which concerns young people from lower-class backgrounds, and we would do well to dialogue with them but also to listen to them, so we could point to issues explaining what is happening with these departures in Syria.

This film is conceived as a starting point for initiating dialogue and free speech. “Talking about it with other young people, who are present today and who come from several schools in Brussels, pushes us to continue and to have a more joyous future outlook,” says, for his part, Meram, one of the young actors of the film.

To stimulate the debate to move forward, this is the objective of this film produced by the Brussels Region. A film that comes with an educational file for teachers. For information on obtaining the film and the teaching book, contact: asbl videp

Violent Extremism

UNDP’s efforts at preventing violent extremism are ultimately about strengthening vertical and horizontal cohesion in society as well as helping local actors reinforce their resilience to conflict and division. UNDP’s approach looks at the relationship between conflict prevention and economic opportunities, rule of law and human rights and inclusion in governance and civic processes, particularly focusing on women and youth participation in building social cohesion…More


Preventing Violent Extremism

It is not enough to counter violent extremism — we need to prevent it, and this calls for forms of ‘soft power’, to prevent a threat driven by distorted interpretations of culture, hatred, and ignorance. No one is born a violent extremist – they are made and fueled. Disarming the process of radicalization must begin with human rights and the rule of law, with dialogue across all boundary lines, by empowering all young women and men, and by starting as early as possible, on the benches of schools.
UNESCO Member States adopted the landmark decision (Decision 197EX/46) to enhance UNESCO’s capacity to provide assistance to States as they craft sharper strategies to prevent violent extremism. UNESCO has also committed to the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, with a focus on priorities of direct relevance to UNESCO’s work: (i) education, skills development and employment facilitation; (ii) empowerment of youth; (iii) strategic communications, the Internet and social media; and (iv) gender equality and empowering women…More

Situational Understanding on Violent Radicalization that Results in Terrorism. Two Graphic Models that Provide Clarity on the Topic

This paper seeks to delve into violent radicalization. Regarding all the possible questions about violent radicalization that ends in terrorism, this paper will focus on the “why” and the “how”. First, the paper will examine the benefits of using graphic information backed by text as the preferred way to approach complex problems instead of relying exclusively on long text reports. Second, in chronological order, previous models explaining violent radicalization will be briefly analysed.
Third, two models of violent radicalization that end in terrorism will be proposed, leveraging new research while seeking to avoid the drawbacks of the previous works. These two models will maintain the positive aspects of previous works, discard the old and outdated aspects, and will add the most recent research tendencies. Therefore, the reader will find in this paper a complete explanation about how and why a person becomes a violent radical. However, in order to maintain a reasonable length, certain details have been left for another more in depth research paper. Accordingly, although the proposed models have several layers, this paper will focus on only the outer ones.
The paper shows the complexity of this problem. But complex does not imply impossible to solve. The paper will provide a comprehensive idea of the dynamics of the problem and will give the reader the opportunity to decide if the situational understanding acquired is sufficient. In the event he or she wants to progress deeper into the topic, the complete model offers consecutive inner layers that will provide the reader increased in depth knowledge. All the information discussed in this paper is soundly backed up by previous research, with nothing left to opinion…More