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Preventing and Addressing Violent Extremism through Community Resilience in the Balkans and MENA

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Tackling violent extremism by examining the driving factors of radicalisation and resilience

Innovative training tools and guidelines to help policymakers and community leaders in preventing and mitigating violent extremism.

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Violent extremism has gained increased attention from the research community within and beyond the EU. Scholars have mainly focused on the structural and individual drivers of violent extremism. However, little attention has been paid to community dynamics that impact and are impacted by violent extremism. A better understanding is needed of the roles communities play, particularly the factors that make them resilient to violent extremism.

Dealing with the complex issue of violent extremism

The EU-funded PAVE project addresses the knowledge gap on how local communities promote and/or prevent religious or ethno-political radicalisation that leads to violent extremism. “By generating new information about ways that local communities can counteract radicalisation, we provide valuable insights into the tools and mechanisms that the EU and other stakeholders can use in managing the various factors and contexts of violent extremism,” explains project coordinator Véronique Dudouet, senior research advisor at the Berghof Foundation in Germany. The PAVE team conducted fieldwork and case studies on municipalities in the Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia) and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region (Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia). They explored political dynamics, the state’s role, and the relevance of past conflicts in violent extremism’s development and persistence. They also looked at the role of religious and civic education and media influences. Results show that these factors have a dual role. Each can exacerbate or mitigate violent extremism. This depends on the context and the way relevant actors are involved. “Vulnerability and resilience to violent extremism are two sides of the same coin,” comments Dudouet.

Involving local actors in finding tangible, effective PVE measures

Findings also reveal that preventing violent extremism (PVE) initiatives can be successful only when actors such as civil society organisations, formal and informal religious leaders, government and administration representatives, security agencies and educators collaborate. A report presents the main research outcomes. Project partners created a toolkit on cross-regional vulnerability and resilience factors among diaspora communities in Europe for a broad audience, including public authorities and practitioners involved in PVE, social integration, social cohesion, intercultural programmes and education. The toolkit was developed together with an interactive risk and resilience map on transnational radicalisation dynamics between the EU, the Western Balkans and the MENA region.

Improving resilience within communities

Another report outlines policy guidelines for multi-stakeholder cooperation in PVE. In addition, policy briefs for all seven countries put forth concrete, targeted and implementable recommendations to foster community resilience against violent extremism. The researchers are currently piloting five training modules. Available both online and offline, the modules can be tailored to the specific needs of the target audience by the training facilitator. “PAVE is raising awareness of the continuing threat of violent extremism and its evolving manifestations along ideological and identity lines, especially as it unfolds alongside societal polarisation in MENA, the Western Balkans and EU Member States,” concludes Dudouet.


PAVE, violent extremism, Balkans, MENA, extremism, resilience, radicalisation, PVE, community resilience

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