How is violent extremism addressed in the Western Balkans, the MENA region and Western Europe? What are the commonalities and differences between those regions regarding this phenomenon? What are the lessons learned about preventing violent extremism?
These are the questions the Berghof Foundation conflict transformation research team aimed to address during a peer-exchange event conducted in Berlin on 14 and 15 May 2018. The workshop brought together more than 30 experts, researchers, religious leaders and policy-makers from the Western Balkans, the MENA region and Western Europe to share their experiences and knowledge about preventing violent extremism.
The event was organized within the framework of the participatory research project Opportunities for Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) in the Western Balkans. This project explores why some communities are particularly affected by individuals inspired by and/or joining the Islamic State (IS) or similar violent extremist groups, while others may show greater resilience to the same phenomenon. Therefore, the project partners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia came to Berlin to exchange about the root causes and drivers of violent extremism, challenges of terminology, the specific role of local change agents and religious leaders, factors of community resilience and effective PVE programming and the linkage to peacebuilding.
After the peer-exchange with colleagues from other regions, the researchers from the Western Balkans gathered two more days to reflect and work together, as well as to discuss with members of the project’s Advisory Board. Several country reports and a comparative report will be published in late 2018. Building on the needs and lessons learnt, pilot dialogues and policy outreach activities will be organised in the four countries.