Development solutions to prevent violent extremism

 Sudan Peace SymposiumCo-hosted by UNDP and the University of Khartoum Peace Research Institute, the Sudan Peace Symposium combined panel discussions, futures thinking workshop and an Art for Peace festival, bringing together regional experts, research centres, Sudanese academia, government and civil society. Khartoum, September 2015.

UNDP has been working since 2014 to develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of violent extremism. In May 2014, UNDP convened its first global expert consultation on ‘Radicalization and its implications for development, violence prevention and conflict resolution’ in Istanbul, Turkey. UNDP then organized another meeting in Kenya in June 2015 to bring together global experts on radicalization in an effort to explore the linkages between radicalization, development, conflict and violence prevention, and to formulate human rights-based development solutions to the prevention of violent extremism.

Taking this work forward, and based on the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism (released in December 2015) and Sustainable Development Goal 16, UNDP has developed a global framework called 'Preventing Violent Extremism through Inclusive Development and the Promotion of Tolerance and Respect for Diversity'. This framework highlights that prevention of violent extremism needs to look beyond strict security concerns to development-related causes of, and solutions to, the phenomenon.  

UNDP’s approach to PVE reflects the fact that the world today faces two interlinked trends: the rise of violent extremism, and the need to govern increasingly diverse and multi-cultural societies. Experiences in both development and peacebuilding show that an increase in the levels of inclusion and tolerance in communities can lead to both better governance of diversity and to societies better inoculated against violent extremism.

This framework was discussed and further programmatic responses reviewed in the UNDP Global Meeting on Preventing Violent Extremism in Oslo, 14-15 March 2016, hosted by the Oslo Governance Centre. Based on the outcome of the global meeting, UNDP is finalizing a corporate initiative, “Development Solutions for the Prevention of Violent Extremism”, which translates the UNDP Framing paper into programmatic outputs.

Country specific programming will have a strong focus on gender equality, women empowerment and youth inclusion, drawing from the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.

The most important place to programme in support of inclusion and prevention of violent extremism is at the community and national levels. The key focus for programmatic work is through UNDP’s country offices (including integrating a better understanding of PVE into existing or ongoing UNDP programmes). It should also be recognized that much of UNDP’s core work in areas of governance, peacebuilding and poverty reduction is already directly or indirectly addressing the underlying causes of violent extremism. It is important to continue the ‘regular’ work in areas of political participation, corruption, local governance and local development, human rights, employment generation, addressing marginalization and advancing social cohesion.

Given the cross-border, regional and global dimensions of the problem, national strategies alone will not be sufficient. While UNDP will support countries in developing integrated national strategies and programmes for preventing violent extremism, it is equally important to create cooperation networks between countries as well as UNDP offices, at regional level.

Recognizing that dynamics and drivers of violent extremism are specific to each region and country, programmatic strategies will build upon regional and country specific analysis and assessment in order to plan and design specifically tailored country pilot projects. Regional approaches and strategies will be key, given that violent extremism is a multi-country phenomenon and has deep regional dimensions:

  • Africa
  • Arab States
  • Asia
  • Europe and CIS


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