Continuing the Global Dialogue To Counter Violent Extremism and Recruitment

Approximately 200 representatives of governments, civil society, and the private sector from the Asia Pacific, Canada, the United States, and Europe gathered last week in Sydney, Australia for a regional Summit on countering violent extremism. The Summit, hosted by the Australian Government, was the third in a series of events around the globe following up on the February 2015 White House Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Summit and in preparation for a leaders-level CVE meeting at UNGA in September 2015. I was honored to join my colleagues Rashad Hussain, Special Envoy and Coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications who led our delegation, and David Gersten, the Department of Homeland Security’s CVE Coordinator in participating in these discussions.

Building on many of the core themes of the White House Summit, participants looked for ways to understand and combat terrorist propaganda that contributes to extremist recruitment, to strengthen the role of women and families in combatting violent extremism, to forge effective partnerships among government, the private sector and civil society, to evaluate effective law enforcement approaches to countering radicalization, and to discuss how to build resilient communities by addressing social, political, and economic grievances. These topics are of specific interest to our Australian hosts who have faced terrorist attacks in recent months and who face a significant foreign fighter challenge.

Many noted that the vast majority of citizens in the Asia Pacific region ignore the propaganda and it is the one percent -- or less -- that is susceptible to its appeal. Governments, civil society, and communities themselves must work to help make these messages unattractive. Many participants from the tech industry and civil society also noted the power of social media platforms for good, and that these networks should be harnessed to spread credible messages – issues Rashad Hussain also discussed in his address to the group.

Our Australian hosts put these thoughts into action by also convening a Civil Society Capacity Building Workshop alongside the Summit. Three groups of civil society leaders spent their day focused on using social media to develop effective CVE communication campaigns; developing a national CVE strategy; and implementing successful community-led interventions.

Participants at the Summit also observed the “CVE HackAbout,” an intense three-day race against the clock in which teams competed to “hack” a solution to the CVE challenge. Co-hosted by the Australian Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Government, the CVE HackAbout brought together Australian Muslim talent, designers, coders, youth leaders, industry, and others to develop on-line tools and public campaigns that simultaneously combat terrorist propaganda and anti-Muslim sentiment. The teams pitched their ideas at the Civil Society Capacity Building Workshop to a live audience, an online audience, and a panel of judges that included a senior executive from Google, a television personality, and a managing director from a private equity firm. The winning idea was called “Pentor,” a smart phone app that provides real-time interactive mentorship for youth. Pentor will receive seed funding and incubation at Affinis Labs, a start-up incubator that specializes in supporting businesses that can have a positive social impact.

In the communique, issued at the conclusion of the Summit, countries recognized five outcomes -- all of which build on the Action Agenda from the White House Summit: the establishment of a regional network of civil society; the development of a regional guide on effective engagement with the private sector; creation of a regional best practice guide for the development of non-legislative, legislative, and law enforcement responses to terrorist propaganda; development of a compendium of regional counter narratives to amplify effective messages; investing in enhancing the role of communities to challenge terrorist propaganda.

In the coming months, states in the region will pursue these deliverables and announce progress at the next leaders-level meeting at UNGA in September.

About the Author: Moira Whelan serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Digital Strategy in the Bureau of Public Affairs.

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Patrick W.
Maryland, USA
June 28, 2015
It seems that most Violent Extremist Groups focus on young adults and school children who don't know any better. Most older adults know that killing and beheading people is not a socially acceptable way of solving your problems. Of course metal challenged people are an exception to this rule. Happy New Year !
Ajay S.
July 2, 2015
Let us build up a non political and non religious platform for peace alliance, to empower the United Nation body on the path to peace and solidarity. We believe it will help the world’s leadership and all leading religious instructors who thirst for a unanimous conclusion for global security in the current predicament of nuclear proliferation, terrorism and war, within the context of the moral crisis in political ethics and religious conflicts. (1) Is our world leadership united and coherent enough to combat the sources of terrorism and war given the rise of scientific insights that continue to design and manufacture lethal weapons for mass killing (that is, nuclear weapons)? (2) Is it possible for the entire world led by God for human beings to uproot the sources of religious conflicts that erupt in the blood of massacre? No! They are enthralled in the strictures of their own religious tradition. It is impossible for them to surrender their own religious profession to transcend their own faiths to fill in the religious gaps that divide human perception. (3) Do UN bureaucracies and administrations have enough potential to lead the global community on the path toward peace and propel those in positions of leadership to overcome complicated political issues, humanitarian crises, and religious conflicts? (4) Are we safe neglecting these larger issues that force us to an unnatural end? (5) Do we have ample, sufficient, and appropriate ideas and resources to combat those masterminds that have converted humankind into "lethal bombs"? Regarding these most complicated global issues, we’ll have to promote the graces of literature to construct a platform whereby the world community (even the common public at large) facilitates a unanimous conclusion of the larger questions confronting the world. There are many possibilities to unify the world community by promoting the graces of literature through academic sources under UN observation. Please sign and share this petition, as a first step of our strategy to secure the morality and the safety of our oncoming generation......
L to R: DHS's David Gersten; Australia Minister of Communications Malcolm Turnbull; Moira Whelan Australian Attorney-General George Brandis poste for a photo at the Sydney Harbor during the Australia Regional Summit to Counter Violent Extremism
Posted by Moira Whelan
June 26, 2015


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