Portraits of Violent Extremism

in South-East Asia

Welcome message

Mr.  Christophe  Bahuet

Deputy Regional Director for UNDP in Asia and the Pacific, and Director, Bangkok Regional Hub

 Mr.  Christophe  Bahuet  (France)  has  been  appointed  as  UNDP  Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, effective 1 October 2020. From  January  2019,  he  has  been  UNDP  Resident  Representative  in Indonesia, and Country Director in the same country for the period 2015-2018. His earlier assignments with UNDP included China, Vietnam, Ghana, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. Mr. Bahuet also worked in UNDP Headquarters in New York, in the Evaluation Office and then in Partnership Bureau. Prior to joining UNDP, he was posted in the French Embassy in Yugoslavia.

We live in challenging times. Radicalisation and violent extremism are putting societies across the globe to the test. While each situation is unique, we need to join forces to address these challenges. Together, we can achieve better results. Doing things better together brought peace and prosperity to the peoples of the European Union. Doing things better together is why we joined forces with UNDP on the Entry and Exit Points initiative. We are proud to share with you testimonies from this extra-ordinary project.

This exhibition brings us the stories from women and men, girls and boys. They could be our mothers or fathers, sisters or brothers. They are people just like us. Violent extremism crossed their path.  They dealt with it, each in their own way.

These stories show us suffering, but bring also hope. They show how tolerance and respect for diversity can make the world a better, more beautiful place. 

I hope this exhibition will inspire you.

Welcome message

Hilde Hardeman

Director and Head of the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments at the European Commission

Hilde Hardeman is the Director and Head of the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments at the European Commission. She has spent over twenty years working for the European Commission, covering external relations and economic and competitiveness issues.  Hilde holds a PhD in Slavic Philology and History of the University of Leuven after studies at Leuven, Stanford University, Paris, Moscow and Amsterdam.

Violent extremism in South-East Asia remains a significant but not insurmountable challenge. Understanding how conflict, violence, identity, human rights and extremism are enmeshed offers an entry point for states to better understand and respond to this problem. 

The Portraits of Violent Extremism exhibition is part of UNDP’s Entry and Exit Points: Violent Extremism in South-East Asia, a flagship publication that investigates factors that contribute to violent extremism in South-East Asia, and the actions required by states to prevent it. Policies and programmes from the government level can overlook the fact that state actions can contribute towards an environment conducive to extremism. The Entry and Exit Points report is based on a thorough document review and on more than 200 interviews of key informants in South-East Asia including activists, analysts and government officials as well as protagonists such as convicted terrorists, insurgents, negotiators, peacebuilders, and security forces. 

In addition to background research and interviews, a number of case studies of people affected by the issues discussed in the report have been included. Through highlighting the intimate stories of survivors, former terrorists and extremists, refugees, and returnees from ISIS’ caliphate in Syria, these stories are intended to help personalize the data, research, and citations. Overall, both the exhibition and associated report show how states and the international community must incorporate development approaches to successfully prevent violent extremism rather than relying on overly securitized responses.

Key recommendations

  1. Offer support for conflict resolution. In a region where there are several ongoing conflicts, it is imperative that governments support targeted and inclusive policies that differentiate between insurgent and extremist violence and address local grievances as well as socio-political and economic drivers. 
  2. Back individualized programmes for foreign terrorist fighters. A combination of fair and transparent judicial processes, prison reform, effective rehabilitation and reintegration programmes are essential. Support must be tailored for local conditions and build local capacity to run deradicalization programmes with communities.
  3. Support prison reform. Greater attention is needed on prison conditions, education and reintegration into communities. Prison reform that encompasses deradicalization and violent extremist programmes is needed. States must ensure transparency regarding policy, trials, sentencing and rehabilitation programmes.
  4. Push for violence reduction. Donors and international organizations should encourage governments to protect human rights at all times and support programmes that encourage social cohesion, and build tolerance and understanding in local communities.
  5. Support measured responses to hate speech. Programmes and policies that focus on positive narratives by different voices and address a range of social issues that are known drivers of extremism in each national context are required.
  6. Strengthen human rights advocacy. All available evidence suggests that respect for international human rights norms lies at the heart of any solution to violent extremism. 
  7. Fund further research, looking beyond narrow definitions of violent extremism. Data, research and communities of practice will be vital to identify and create monitoring systems and knowledge that provide societies with the tools to understand and act against extremism and violence. It is also critical to test P/CVE policies against empirical evidence.

Entry and Exit Points Report

Entry and Exit Points: Violent Extremism in South-East Asia investigates the factors that contribute towards violent extremism and the actions governments can take to prevent it.

In this UNDP-European Union co-funded study, the role of the state is examined through empirical research conducted across five countries as well as interviews providing personal accounts of those impacted by violent extremism.