High-Level Experts Meeting on Finding Development Solutions to Preventing Violent Extremism
“The High-Level Experts Meeting on Framing Development Solutions for the Prevention of Violent Extremism” took place in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on the 13-15 June, 2016. The meeting, co-organized by the Istanbul Regional Hub and the UNDP’s Tajikistan Country Office, was designed to advance understanding of, and effective preventative measures against, radicalization that leads to violent extremism in Central Asia and the broader region, with a particular emphasis on youth and gender.
Opened by UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau of Europe and CIS, Ms. Cihan Sultanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator in Tajikistan, Mr. Alexander Zuev, as well as Tajikistan’s Foreign Minister Mr. Aslov Muhridinovich, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Mr. Peter Burian, and UN SRSG and head of the UNRCCA office, Mr. Petko Draganov, the meeting was attended by a diverse group of 120 senior government officials, civil society representatives, academics, religious leaders, diplomats and UN colleagues from across Central Asia as well as from the Arab States and the Western Balkans.
Rather than concentrating solely on the theoretical underpinnings of radicalization that leads to violent extremism, the Dushanbe meeting focused on finding practical, context-specific solutions that balance human rights, development and security considerations. Further the meeting sought to balance the necessity of development responses and security responses existing side-by-side and in a complimentary manner – something that is very often not achieved.
To accomplish these objectives, the meeting:
· Developed a common understanding of radicalization in Central Asia, identifying the groups that are vulnerable to it, and its impact on development objectives;
· Examined current approaches to the prevention of violent extremism discussing about their successes, failures and gaps;
· Identified entry points and opportunities for new/adjusted and rights-based development programming at all levels, which can effectively contribute to addressing the conditions conducive to radicalization;
· Developed further understanding of the gender differentiated roles played by men and women in extremist organizations, and the necessity for a gender-sensitive approach to preventing violent extremism; and
· Focused on the vulnerability of young adults, both men and women, and the need for engagement and opening of economic and social opportunities and voice.
While the primacy of socio-economic conditions, especially for countries in transition, was widely acknowledged, the meetings’ conclusions also recognized that identity politics and perceptions of social injustice are also at the heart of the problems we are seeing across the region and across the globe. It was evident throughout the meeting, and especially when formulating the recommendations, that much of what needs to be done to address the conditions conducive to violent extremism already exists as part of UNDP’s development portfolio.
As a working meeting, the experts and participants, through the course of diverse sessions and working groups, developed and endorsed a set of 21 clear action-orientated recommendations around research, programming and coordination needs and responses.