Major NGO Joint Statement on Countering Violent Extremism

AfP and 40 other leading U.S. humanitarian, development and peacebuilding organizations released a joint NGO statement on July 20th weighing in on the Obama Administration’s new “Countering Violent Extremism” strategy. It is the largest group of U.S.-based international NGOs to date that have spoken with a united voice about the plan.
Read the joint statement and see who signed on.
The statement was coordinated by AfP member Mercy Corps along with the Alliance for Peacebuilding, with extensive input from other signatories. It outlines core concerns about the U.S. CVE strategy, including chronic underfunding of development and peacebuilding programs and the still-dominant role of military security operations that can undermine de-radicalization efforts. It also lays out six key policy recommendations.

“There are good things in the [CVE] strategy, like empowering women and youth, and looking at issues of inequality and social grievances,” said AfP President Melanie Greenberg. “But the strategy still assumes the problem is ‘over there,’ and that we can reduce radicalization locally without discussing global and national factors that fuel feelings of alienation, or our own dependence on using militarized responses to conflict.”

The Obama Administration unveiled its Countering Violent Extremism (“CVE”) strategy at a special CVE Summit in Washington in February. It builds on initiatives of the Department of Homeland Security designed to reduce radicalization of at-risk youth in the U.S., and outlines a 9-point Action Agenda to implement CVE strategies both at home and globally. The Administration has spent the last several months working with governments around the world to consider similar strategies for fighting violent extremism, through CVE summits in Oslo, Istanbul, Sydney, Nairobi, Algiers, and elsewhere. Governments will present their strategies at a special CVE Side Event during the UN General Assembly in September.

“The Administration’s draft Countering Violent Extremism strategy is a positive step in that it seeks to ‘get ahead of the curve’ of violent extremism by reducing community support for violence,” said Madeline Rose from Mercy Corps, one of the coordinators of the joint statement. “But the strategy still suffers from false or imperfect assumptions about what drives communities to violence and thus risks repeating many of the mistakes of past post-9/11 stabilization initiatives.” A recent Mercy Corps study of key contributors to youth engagement in conflict found that experiences of injustice and abuse, not just unemployment or poverty, propel young people to take up arms.”

The NGO coalition delivered the joint statement to the White House National Security Council, the State Department’s Under Secretariat for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, and the Countering Violent Extremism Secretariat at USAID. It will be discussing main concerns with U.S. officials prior to the UN General Assembly.
For more information about this statement or international NGO activities related to violent extremism, contact Madeline Rose or John Filson