On 8 December a one-day workshop -“Operationalizing and Sustaining the Global CVE Agenda”- was held at the Thon Hotel in Brussels, organised by DEVCO. The workshop aimed at presenting a set of independently-developed, actionable recommendations to address issues related to preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) developed under the framework of an IcSP funded project (in partnership with Norway and Switzerland): “The prevention project: Recommendations on CVE and CT” implemented by the Global Centre on Cooperative Security and other partners. The event brought together EU institutions, intergovernmental organisations, academia and civil society organisations in the field of prevention of radicalisation and violent extremist and provided a space to reflect on the main challenges the P/CVE community face today and possible solutions to overcome those.
The workshop was opened by DEVCO Deputy Director General, Mr Rudishhauser, followed by introductory remarks from other donors of the Prevention Project (NO and CH) acknowledging the importance of the security-development nexus and highlighting the introduction of security issues in the new European Consensus for Development. The three funding donors agreed on the need of looking at P/CVE in a comprehensive way and of the importance of working in areas such as education, culture and interfaith dialogue to contribute to the prevention of violent extremism and radicalisation. They also recognised the need to engage more with both women and youth in P/CVE actions. Flexibility in the P/CVE area is required as violent extremism is an evolving threat and stakeholders need to constantly adapt to it.
The workshop was organised around 4 panels. Panel 1 provided with an overview of the study and highlighted some of the main challenges in operationalizing and sustaining the P/CVE agenda and recommendations to overcome those. The increased attention towards P/CVE raises coordination issues among the diversity of key stakeholders that includes both traditional security and development actors, national and municipal government officials, as well as civil society. Both donors and Governments need to be more strategic. A more dynamic and complete set of policies and programmes, and involving a more diverse set of actors, in particular at the local level, to address the complex nature of the threat is required. The lack of trust between governments, in particular the police, and the relevant communities, can generate grievances that can make individuals more susceptible to violent extremism recruitment. Building trust between all levels of government and local communities is at the heart of the P/CVE agenda. The CVE agenda has been dominated by security and intelligence. Over time as the threat has become much more local there has been a shift of the attention more towards prevention than mitigation. Too often P/CVE is led by security actors. Most of the financial support to P/CVE is still channelled to the military and intelligence, while there is insufficient funding to support community-level P/CVE programmes. Countries need help to rethink vertical and horizontal cooperation. Too many national governments keep considering national security issues like violent extremism – which require locally driven solutions – as being the exclusive policy domain of the capital or even single ministries. However, the shrinking space for civil societies is a crucial challenge to overcome as well as the role communities may play in the national and global P/CVE conversation. In order to improve the effectiveness of P/CVE work, locally driven projects should be promoted and supported from the very beginning.
Panel 2 focused on what’s working and what’s not in the P/CVE area. A lack of knowledge of what works to prevent and counter violent extremism and radicalisation is a fundamental problem, leading not only to underfunding but also to an inefficient use of resources, and potentially counter-productive interventions. Panel 3 highlighted some initiatives existing in the area of P/CVE led by civil society organisations and main challenges faced by civil society in engaging with P/CVE work. Panel 4 focused on the multilateral dimension of P/CVE from a donor’s perspective.
Main points to highlight from the discussions:
- The continuing confusion regarding what should be labelled a P/CVE programmes, either P/CVE “specific” or “relevant,” requires attention. Sometimes adding a P/CVE label risks undermining its effectiveness.
- Need for piloting– reluctance among donors to “take the risk” and embrace the kind of innovation and experimentation needed to support locally owned solutions.
- Importance of the role of research in understanding the local context.
- Difficulties to reach locally based organisations and the need to link global with local through community based approaches.
- Re-thinking of communities’ definition which should include both the security sector and the civil society.
- Developing a global P/CVE index might help in improving the effectiveness of P/CVE work.
- Need for better capacity building and M&E tools. Expanding the on-going work in collecting projects’ evaluations to measure the impact of P/CVE interventions.
- Sharing more effectively among the P/CVE communitythrough e.g. workshops with various stakeholders.
- Engage more with private sector especially in the area of social media.
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