Violent extremist ideologies are gaining an unprecedented level of traction across the globe, taking root in local communities and controlling territory in a number of fragile states, as well as attracting an increasing number of disenfranchised citizens in other states. Their messages that incite hate, perpetuate violence and invoke terror should have no place in a modern and civilised world.

It is important to emphasise that violent extremism is a global problem, which manifests itself in all cultures and all religions but with different specific characteristics. Radicalisers work by pointing to social, political and economic injustice around their followers. They promote a belief that these injustices result from a corrupt system of politics or ideology. To be persuasive, many of these arguments are based on facts and truths but are selective and incomplete in the way they employ reality. More importantly, the means by which they seek to redress this injustice is through violence, greater oppression and victimisation.

Thus, the challenge for policy-makers has arguably never been greater, as the international community needs to bring all of its tools to the table both to resolve on-going crises and prevent their re-occurrence. The European Union is the world’s single largest development actor, with a comprehensive global reach and a range of instruments that engage on continental, regional and national levels. Our approaches span the gamut from long-term preventive engagements on trade, infrastructure and social service delivery, to short-term stabilisation instruments that can deliver targeted humanitarian relief and recovery measures.

Addressing both the manifestations of violent extremism and its root causes is a quintessentially development challenge. It will require strengthening the fundamental building blocks of equitable development, human rights, governance and the rule of law. A diverse range of stakeholders need to be brought to the table and empowered, including not only state actors and security institutions, but also key members of local communities and civil society who can speak courageously and compellingly about truth, tolerance and acceptance. Thus, while a strong response to violent extremism is required, it must embrace, not further restrict civil liberties, and address insecurity, inequality and marginalisation.   The EU is committed to working with partners across the globe to achieve this in the interests of all citizens.

CVE Specific Activities

  • Two IcSP supported projects, in the Horn of Africa (including Yemen) and Pakistan, are implemented. This follows a large conference in November 2012 organised to identify possible Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) actions.
  • A 2 M€ project aims to develop best practices for countering violent extremism and radicalisation in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. Concretely, the aim is to constitute a knowledge base on past and present practices with recommendations for evidence based policymaking and action planning. This was commenced in early 2014.
  • A similar project to strengthening the knowledge base for evidence-lead action for CVE in the Sahel, was initiated in 2015.  This 1.7 M€ project that will establish a regional network of research and expertise, and to establish and implement a methodology of “action research” combining academic research and practitioners.
  • In Pakistan a 5 M€ project on countering violent extremism and radicalisation commenced in the second half of 2014. The specific objective of this project is to reinforce Government, media and civil society capacities in Pakistan to counter violent radicalization at provincial and federal levels.
  • A new project currently in the formulation stage is a 5 M€ project on deradicalisation in prisons, to be rolled out regionally in South East Asia and in MENA from 2016.

Gradually experiences in these two geographical areas should be linked. This will be achieved through the development of a global CVE programme (5 M€) to be implemented from late 2014 with the Hedayah Centre in Abu Dhabi and support (2 M€) to the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund which has been decided in 2014.

To improve the capabilities of EU staff of developing CVE specific interventions using existing and future development efforts a series of thematic trainings on CVE are being conducted in partner countries.

To read more about our Global activities, or other thematic areas of work, please see:

Criminal justice capacity building
Countering the financing of terrorism
ICSP geographic actions