The event confirmed that women and youth can and do play a significant role in building secure lives and communities through addressing the root causes of violent extremism and working towards its eradication. However, in order to do so, they need to be supported and enabled.
The event also demonstrated that the drivers and factors of recruitment and radicalization vary drastically from one country/community to another – and include factors such as isolation, ideology, economics, equality and governance systems. As such, PVE strategies must be tailored to the local context, to specific drivers, in order to be effective, and the tools available to those combating violent extremism need to be diverse.
Furthermore, these strategies must be better-coordinated among practitioners, local authorities, regional and multilateral organizations, and civil society in order to achieve sustainable impact.
18-19 July 2017, Barcelona.– Violent extremism has become a serious threat across the world, including the Euro-Mediterranean region. It affects human security and economic stability, as well as the well-being, dignity, and rights of people.
Preventing violent extremism is a topic high on the policy agenda of many governments in the Euro-Mediterranean region. Until recently, the challenges presented by violent extremism have been evaluated primarily through security lenses. However, evidence and experience show that success against violent extremism will require responses that addresses political, social, and economic drivers with a human rights based approach. While traditional counterterrorism approaches are essential to detecting, averting, and addressing violent extremism and terrorist plots, prevention focused programs provide a way to reduce the threat in the long-term.
A growing body of evidence shows also that women and youth can and do play active and important roles in preventing extremism and radicalization. They have the ability to delegitimize extremist narratives in their communities and take an important role in designing and shaping effective programmes and strategies.
Within this context, a two-day meeting was jointly organized by the UfM Secretariat, UNDP, and UN Women on 18-19 July, 2017 in Barcelona, which brought together more than 40 experts, practitioners and advocates in peace and security and PVE. The objective was to take stock of current research and experience on preventing extremism and radicalization with a specific focus on the roles of women and youth, while also discussing approaches and lessons learned at the regional and national levels and identifying needs and key areas for future interventions in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The meeting provided a platform for participating experts with a broad range of expertise to interact and strategize the development of more nuanced, tailored and effective PVE strategies.
The experts, emphasized the impact of violent extremism on populations, and in particular spoke of the often overlooked impact on women and youth in particular.
To this end the meeting reaffirmed that while women and youth can play a significant role in PVE, they need to be supported and empowered to do so. It was noted that the drivers of recruitment and radicalization vary according to local context, and as such, prevention strategies must be tailored and nuanced in order to be effective. Furthermore, these strategies must be better-coordinated among practitioners, local authorities, regional and multilateral organizations, and civil society in order to achieve sustainable impact.
As a follow-up to the experts meeting, actionable recommendations will be presented to the governments in the Euro-Mediterranean region. In addition, a regional action plan will be drafted and discussed with key partners in the region, with the aim of supporting and empowering women and youth to prevent violent extremism in the Mediterranean region.
In the new UfM Roadmap for Action, endorsed by UfM Foreign Affairs Ministers at the UfM Regional Forum of last January in Barcelona, they agree that, “through its activities, the UfM joins regional and international efforts to address socio-economic root causes of terrorism and extremism, and it should be developing further projects and initiatives of high impact with a special focus on youth employability and women empowerment”.
Summary report of the meeting: https://ufmsecretariat.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Summary_report_Barcelona_2017.pdf