Identifying factors that make communities susceptible to radicalization to violence and preventing it from evolving and expanding in the earliest possible stage with a comprehensive set of measures is likely to have the greatest chance of success.
"Push" and "Pull" Factors
Prevention efforts must address both “push” and “pull” factors that create conditions for violent extremism to take root and gain traction, as well as factors that allow for recruitment and facilitation. Understanding the nature of the challenge is at the heart of the Ankara Memorandum on Good Practices for a Multi-Sectoral Approach to Countering Violent Extremism. As its title suggests, the Ankara Memorandum stresses the value of governments employing a multi-agency approach as well as the sorts of whole-of-society approaches recommended by the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action for Preventing Violent Extremism.
- The role of government institutions
- The role of Agencies
- Civil society in CVE
- Public-private partnerships
- The role of law enforcement agencies
- Socioeconomic approaches
Hedayah has developed an excellent complement to the Ankara Memorandum in its Guidelines and Good Practices for Developing National CVE Strategies. The Hedayah Guidelines can help countries develop a prevention-focused CVE framework when designing their CVE strategies in line with the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action.
Taking the position that locally-relevant initiatives are central to the success of any CVE or prevention strategy, the Good Practices on Community Engagement and Community-Oriented Policing as Tools to Counter Violent Extremism provides tools that focus on building trust with local communities and engaging them as partners to develop information-driven, community-based solutions to local issues.
Such engagement can raise a community’s awareness about the threat of violent extremism and provide it with the necessary tools to intervene and prevent radicalization to violence. The Doha Plan of Action for Community-Oriented Policing in a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Context offers an illustrative list of rule of law-based, rights respecting, community-oriented policing initiatives aimed at youth, women, families, and communities in general, as well as training programs for both law enforcement and communities.
Promoting critical thinking skills among youth and harnessing the positive potential of education and educational institutions in prevention efforts are detailed in the GCTF’s Abu Dhabi Memorandum on Good Practices for Education and Countering Violent Extremism, which served as a reference for UNESCO’s A Teacher’s Guide on the Prevention of Violent Extremism, and provides context about violent extremism, offers tips on how to manage the classroom discussion, and key messages to deliver.
Additionally, Hedayah developed the Abu Dhabi Acton Plan on the Role of CVE in Education, which catalogues a range of programs that can help in the design and implementation of the Abu Dhabi Memorandum’s good practices. More recently, the GCTF and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) have together launched a dialog on the role of religious education in promoting peace and preventing violence that should provide additional, more specialized recommendations.
Roles of Families
Other tools intended to help mobilize civil society take into consideration the central roles that women and families can have in preventing radicalization to violence. The GCTF, together with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), first developed the Good Practices on Women and Countering Violent Extremism, which includes a section on countering women and girls’ involvement in violent extremism and terrorism.
The GCTF then developed The Role of Families in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism: Strategic Recommendations and Programming Options, which addresses the vital role families play in preventing and countering violent extremism. From shaping attitudes toward non-violence to serving as “front line” actors in identifying signs of possible radicalization to violence, preventing such radicalization’s onset, and intervening in the radicalization to violence process, families represent key prevention partners. The document also recognizes family members can be part of the problem in some cases, especially when the parent-child relationship does not exist or is strained. In such cases a credible community figure or mentor can play a critical role in engaging an individual who may otherwise be susceptible to violent extremism.
Roadmap of Initiatives
The Plan of Action for Identifying and Countering Terrorist Recruiters and Facilitators provides an important, more specialized roadmap of example initiatives for governments to consider when dealing with the complex challenges posed by terrorist recruiters and facilitators. The Plan of Action builds upon the relevant good practices in The Hague-Marrakech Memorandum on Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the FTF Phenomenon, which contains material related to preventing, detecting, and intervening against recruitment and facilitation as well as the criminal justice sector responses.
Furthermore, the Plan of Action builds upon the Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices for Effective Counterterrorism Practice in the Criminal Justice Sector, which notes the need for a broad-based system of criminal offenses that include inchoate or preventive ones such as:
- Providing material support
Also of relevance are the Recommendations Related to the Full Range of Preventative and Rehabilitative Measures that can be Employed in a Criminal Justice System, as well as the Neuchatel Memorandum on Juvenile Justice in a Counterterrorism Context, which provides recommended good practices that take into consideration the vulnerability of youth and the need for a different, tailored approach, such as developing “off-ramps” or alternatives to prosecution, so as to avoid having a youngster’s contact with the criminal justice system turn into an experience that radicalizes him or her to violence.