From countering to preventing violent extremism


countering extremismGen. Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s powerful army chief, steps down Tuesday at the height of his popularity. But as he makes way for a successor, Sharif also leaves behind an army that has significantly increased its share of power through sweeping counter-terrorism policies that critics say have further weakened the country’s democratic institutions, The Los Angeles Times reports (HT: FPI).

Fighting extremism isn’t just about military and intelligence solutions, according to the International Republican Institute’s Geoffrey Macdonald and Luke Waggoner.

Countering violent extremism (CVE)— which aims to hinder the recruitment efforts of violent extremists as well as address the conditions that facilitate radicalization—has become an umbrella term encompassing disparate non-coercive responses to terrorism and other forms of ideological violence, they write for Open Democracy. However, the nascent effort to introduce the terminology of “preventing violent extremism” (PVE) into the field both clarifies and illuminates the unique role that democracy, rights, and governance (DRG) programs and activities play in impeding the growth of violent ideologies:

In light of these many areas of crossover, traditional DRG programs hold significant potential to meaningfully contribute to PVE. For example, equipping legislators with data to inform policymaking and enhance the communication channels between government officials and their constituents can improve policy outcomes and decrease grievances. Supporting programs that advance economic and political opportunities for youth and other marginalized groups can prevent radicalism by providing viable alternative paths. Strengthening inclusive democratic governance provides nonviolent mechanisms for social and political change. Building the capacity of pro-democracy civil society groups enhances broader awareness of nonviolent democratic norms. Bolstering the inclusivity and responsiveness of political parties and leaders strengthens the public’s confidence in the democratic process thereby lowering the urge to resist it violently.


IRI is a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy.


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