11 Arab countries were represented as Governments, UN Agencies, Civil Society and academic experts gathered in Tunis, Tunisia to discuss how violent extremism can be prevented in the Arab states region. The workshop, co-hosted by the Government of Tunisia and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was the first meeting on preventing violent extremism (often abbreviated PVE) held in the region. National action plans for preventing violent extremism – developing and implementing them - was one of the topics discussed.
UNDPs Resident Representative of Tunisia, Mr. El Kebir Alaoui, was one of the opening speakers. He addressed the participants sharing UNDPs preventive and peacebuilding work in this country, congratulating the Government of Tunisia for its efforts in preventing violent extremism, but also highlighting the need for regional discussions to refine and learn from other countries.
The Director of UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States, Khaled Abdel Shafi, focused on UNDPs role more broadly and the actions needed. Preventing violent extremism lies at the heart of UNDPs mandate, and whilst states have the primary responsibility for preventing and responding to violent extremism within their borders, UNDP and the UN system at large provides proactive support.
The two-day talks focused on solutions and lessons learned, to which Civil Society organizations and academic experts provided valuable inputs. Several Civil Society participants stressed contextualized resilience building approaches, youth-led and community based PVE programmes, as well as the importance of monitoring and evaluating plans, programmes and projects to learn what works and what does not in the Arab states region.
Tunisia’s National Counter-Terrorism Commission, represented by its President, Senior Colonel of the Army Mr Mokhtar Ben Nasr was the last speaker, and he highlighted that whilst the government has an important role to play, all parts of society must be involved: schools, universities, houses of worship… He also stressed that we must try to understand the attraction of IS and other violent extremist groups, and provide alternatives. “Knowing what young people need, let us give them what they yearn for – dignity and positive role models.” This way we can halt and reverse the trend of violent extremist group.
Press release in French
Eduardo Lopez-Mancisidor, Rule of Law Programme Specialist, UNDP Tunisia: firstname.lastname@example.org
Noeman Alsyyad, Regional Communications Advisor/Press Focal Point, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States: email@example.com
The hashtag for the event was: #PVEArabStates2019