Preventing Violent Extremism

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Defining the Concept of ‘Violent Extremism’

Delineating the attributes and phenomenon of violent extremism

By Mr Mathias Bak, Mr Kristoffer Nilaus Tarp, and Dr Christina Schori Liang,
8 August 2019
Geneva Papers: August 2019
Caption: Youth walking down a dark urban street. Image: Creative Commons

Defining the Concept of ‘Violent Extremism’

Delineating the attributes and phenomenon of violent extremism

By Mr Mathias Bak, Mr Kristoffer Nilaus Tarp, and Dr Christina Schori Liang,

During the last few decades, the concept of violent extremism (VE) has played an increasingly prominent role in policies and development programming on a global level. Having gone through several incarnations, the current focus for most actors deals with preventing and countering violent extremism. This terminology was constructed in an effort to repackage the Global War on Terror (GWOT) in a manner that shifted the focus away from the over-militarised responses of the 90s and early 2000s, to methods linked to social support and prevention. Where counterterrorism focuses on countering terrorists through physical means, the Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) approach aims to prevent the rise of violent extremist organisations (VEOs) through less militarised methods. P/CVE programs therefore aim at developing resilience among communities that may be prone to violent extremism.

According to the 2015 UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, such interventions aim to address the root causes and drivers of violent extremism, which often include: socio-economic issues; discrimination; marginalization; poor governance; human rights violations; remnants of violent conflict; collective grievances; and other psychological factors.1 The concept of violent extremism has also become increasingly mainstream in the international community, with both the UN Security Council (UNSC 2014)2 and the UN General Assembly3 (UNGA 2015) calling for member states to address VE.

Mathias Bak holds a degree in Global Development and has specialized in designing programs for delivery in fragile- and conflict-affected settings. He has worked for Transparency International, the European Commission, Danmission and Concord Consulting.

 

Christina Schori Liang leads the Terrorism and PVE cluster at the GCSP. She directs the New Issues in Security Course (NISC) as well as short courses on PVE and on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. She is a Professor at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA), Sciences Po, Paris. Dr. Liang has testified for the European Commission, NATO and the OSCE. Her research and writing focuses on all forms of extremism, transnational organised crime and emerging technologies.

 

Kristoffer Nilaus Tarp is a social impact and international affairs professional and the Managing Director of Concord Consulting. He has advised different parts of the UN System, governments, the private sector, foundations and Civil Society Organisations on issues relating to conflict transformation and peacebuilding for more than a decade and has published widely on the topic. The views expressed in the publication do not necessarily reflect those of the project’s supp

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