Evidence demonstrates that efforts by governments and multilateral actors, particularly security-focused initiatives, are not sufficient to prevent violent extremism. Governments and multilateral institutions need to work more closely with other sectors of society to address the relevant underlying drivers of this phenomenon. Civil society organizations (CSOs) are especially important as they are citizen-led, locally rooted entities that have the access and long-term commitment needed to foster social cohesion and respect for equal rights and pluralism in their communities. This call for collaboration and inclusion is enshrined in the former UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) and in a growing number of national PVE action plans.
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There is growing recognition that effectively preventing violent extremism (PVE) and fostering sustainable peace and pluralism requires a “whole of society” effort that extends beyond governments alone to include civil society actors, particularly those with longstanding experience in leading such efforts in their communities. It draws on the strengths of all sectors to create a win-win approach. This approach is enshrined in the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action on PVE and a growing number of national PVE plans. All governments and multilateral organizations should recognize and support this critical sector as allies not adversaries in the complex, long-term struggle to prevent violent extremism from gaining a foothold in their societies.
This GSX document outlines recommendations from civil society to donors that fund or are interested in funding preventing violent extremism (PVE) programming domestically and/or through development or other foreign assistance. The document reflects input received from a diverse group of international and local civil society organizations (CSOs) and CSO networks, including organizations led by women and youth, from Africa; Europe; Central, South, and Southeast Asia; and the Middle East. These organizations and networks work on preventing violent extremism through approaches including peacebuilding, conflict resolution, youth, gender, or economic empowerment, building resilience, and rehabilitation and reintegration. In addition, this document reflects some of the lessons learned from the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), the Geneva-based multilateral PVE fund.
By Eric Rosand| September 15, 2017
Earlier this year, Secretary-General António Guterres achieved what his two immediate predecessors had been unable to: getting the United Nations General Assembly to agree on reform of a sprawling UN counterterrorism architecture. Guterres deserves credit for prioritizing this long-recognized shortcoming to position the UN Secretariat to better support countries’ efforts to implement the world body’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
The creation of a first-ever UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and the appointment of the first full-time, under-secretary-general-level UN counterterrorism official—Russia’s Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov—should go a long way to enhance collaboration and cooperation among the dozens of UN entities working to counterterrorism and preventing violent extremism (PVE) and to allow the organization to speak with a single, louder force on a range of these issues.
By Eric Rosand | September 10, 2017
Given the recent terrorist attacks in Australia, Canada, Britain, and the United States, and concerns about home-grown radicalization and fighters returning from Iraq and Syria, it is no surprise that “countering violent extremism” or CVE featured prominently in this summer’s annual “Five Eyes” gathering of ministers of interior and justice. In the Joint Communique issued following the meeting, the governments committed to take a range of CVE actions, including efforts related to “enhancing [their] knowledge” on “local level initiatives and sharing of best practices in prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation” of violent extremist offenders.
Let’s hope the U.S. side is serious about wanting to enhance its knowledge here. Unlike most other areas of counterterrorism, the U.S. government is generally near the back of its class on CVE and has few positive lessons and experiences to share. Indeed, if the United States is, as stated in the communique, committed to “step[ping] up efforts to counter terrorist recruitment and radicalization,” it should focus more attention on learning from others, starting with its Five Eyes partners.