Alliance for Peacebuilding, Human Rights and Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

Human Rights and Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

Another effective community-based CVE program is located in Vilvoorde, Belgium. Nearly one quarter of Vilvoorde’s population is unemployed, most of the youth come from broken families and many are at extreme risk for radicalization. From 2012 to 2014, 28 young men from this community traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS. In response, the local government decided to tackle extremism head on and enacted a community-based program to increase the resilience of both families and young people. The key to Vilvoorde’s success is the program’s ability to engage numerous support systems for at risk youth in the health, religious, social, parental and education circles. These groups work with the youth and decide collectively which type of intervention best supports a particular individual. Police contact is intentionally limited and authorities are only involved when absolutely necessary to prevent violence. Through a community-based approach to CVE that limits destructive engagement with law enforcement, no new ISIS recruits have left from Vilvoorde to Syria since May 2014.10 Vilvoorde serves as the model for effective CVE programing within a high-risk community. Given the tools and freedom to tackle violent extremism through a community engagement process that respects and adheres to human rights, communities can prevent violent extremism while minimizing societal cleavages.