In 2016, the UNDP Oslo Governance Centre (OGC) initiated a global conference series on Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE). The conferences have come to serve as a platform to bring together a global community of PVE actors to create a common understanding of what could be learned both from the past and from each other to inform future PVE work.
Oslo I, the first global meeting in 2016, contributed to UNDP’s development of preventing violent extremism (PVE) work and launched the strategy paper: Preventing Violent Extremism through Promoting Inclusive Development, Tolerance and Respect for Diversity. This framework highlighted that PVE must 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 then was faced with two interlinked trends:
- Rise of violent extremism
- Need to govern increasingly diverse and multi-cultural societies
At the heart of UNDP’s approach is a belief that better governance of diversity will lead to societies better protected against violent extremism.
Two years after Oslo I, UNDP had significantly contributed to, facilitated and/or supported PVE through evidence-based research, policy support, and programmatic interventions around the world. As a result, a growing repository of cutting-edge research findings and lessons learned on the implementation of PVE-specific or relevant policy and programmatic support was available. Research and programmes had been developed and conducted by UNDP in collaboration with research think tanks and Civil Society Organisations on reintegration of former terrorist fighters, media, and counternarrative programming, linkages between the private sector and violent extremism, online radicalisation, and the roles of women and young people in preventing and addressing violent extremism.
In 2018, Oslo II was convened by UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It provided an opportunity to draw together a broad community of relevant stakeholders and take stock of new evidence and experience to assess what has worked well, identify challenges, and generate new insights. Specific recommendations aimed at enhancing UNDP’s future efforts research, policy-development, and programmatic intervention.
In 2021, UNDP OGC supported by the Government of Norway, will host its third global conference on PVE. Twenty years since the events of September 11th that drove a global counter-terrorism agenda and the evolution of a countering and PVE framework, the time is right for UNDP to lead a conversation on how to contextualize this work to modern challenges.
As the world moves on from the health crisis of COVID-19, the global community of PVE researchers, practitioners, and governments needs to reassess how the eco-system for violent extremism has evolved, evaluate if its policies and programmes are still fit for purpose, and – where they are not – develop new approaches to prevention efforts.
The main aim of the conference is to understand how the violent extremism landscape has evolved since the onset of COVID-19 and to distill lessons for future research, policy, and programming by:
- Understanding the changes in the violent extremism eco-system
- Reviewing current approaches
- Framing UNDPs forward looking approach
Preventing violent extremism
Since 2014, UNDP has been working to develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of violent extremism. We aim to address two interlinked challenges: (1) the rise of violent extremism, using a development and peacebuilding approach firmly grounded within human rights principles, and (2) the need to govern increasingly diverse and multi-cultural societies, which requires attention to institutions, political, and religious ideologies and people and promotion of human rights based approaches.
The Oslo Governance Centre (OGC) initiates research on the drivers of violent extremism – political, social and economic. A key focus for the OGC is to use insights from research to strengthen UNDP’s approach to PVE programming in terms of the role of women in PVE and the gender dimension of PVE. Our work specifically looks at good practices in gender sensitive design of PVE programmes, as well as gender sensitive impact measurement frameworks for PVE programmes.
OGC has a strategic role in UNDP’s efforts to address violent extremism, and works closely with other units in UNDP to link research results to our action on the ground.
In response to demand among Member States, and in coordination with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and UN Country Teams, UNDP has supported national efforts to PVE through evidence-based research, policy support, and programme delivery. As a result, there is a growing repository of cutting-edge research findings, and lessons learned on the implementation of a range of PVE interventions. This has helped to accumulate knowledge and garner the interest of more partners to join hands with UNDP to tackle the root causes behind violent extremism.