OSCE seminar marks a decade of comprehensive efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism

The OSCE Transnational Threats Department’s Action against Terrorism Unit (TNTD/ATU) marked a decade of efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism on 20 June 2022 in an anniversary Seminar held in Vienna. The seminar, titled In Retrospect: 10 Years of a Comprehensive Approach to Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism – Good Practices and Evolving Challenges in the OSCE area, was an opportunity to take stock of good practices, to identify and discuss evolving and existing challenges in the OSCE area, and to draft a set of recommendations that stakeholders can use moving forward.

Opening the seminar, representative of the 2022 Polish OSCE Chairmanship Michał Drożniewski emphasized the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration and multi-stakeholder approaches to address the threat of violent extremism in this complex security environment, characterized by the emergence, and re-surfacing of new and old challenges.

The event brought together around 70 participants from delegations to the OSCE and government officials, civil society, including alumni of the Leaders against Intolerance and Violent Extremism’ (LIVE) capacity-building project, and from the OSCE executive structures and institutions.

“In addressing violent extremism, we need a joint approach, which brings together the governments, civil society and in which the private sector can act as an ally.  Building trust is not an easy task but we cannot succeed without each other”, said Elvira Hadžibegović, who serves as the civil society representative in the Montenegrin National Operational Team for preventing and countering violent extremism.

Building on the discussion, the event involved thematic workshops that addressed gender sensitive approaches, local structural drivers, and emerging and evolving threats of violent extremism, such as increased information disorder and the need for media literacy.

“It is important that all stakeholders see prevention efforts as something valuable. We need to educate them on human rights to build a strong basis for prevention efforts and resilience to violent extremist threats”, concluded Anna Gussarova, Director of Central Asia Institute for Strategic Studies in Kazakhstan.

Since 2011, the OSCE TNTD/ATU has provided support to more than a dozen participating States through national policy seminars on comprehensive approaches to preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism (P/CVERLT). On top of providing support and tools for the development and review of policies, the seminars have helped to promote inclusive, gender-sensitive and human rights-based approaches to P/CVERLT, and strengthened co-operation between government and civil society.