Stop Violent Extremism MADRID +10: The Global Policy Dialogue
On October 27 and 28, 2015 TRENDS Research & Advisory organised a two-day workshop as a “Knowledge Partner” of the Club de Madrid Policy Dialogue “Madrid +10: Stop Violent Extremism” in Madrid, Spain; a global event, organized by the World Leadership Alliance in collaboration with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), King’s College, London.
Over both days, the TRENDS workshop addressed the subject of
“Online Radicalisation” as one of the newest and pressing challenges in countering violent extremism: the radicalisation and recruitment of individuals through social media and the internet. It also highlighted successful grassroots initiatives that have mobilised communities to engage in “counter-speech”, that is to say, standing up to, and challenging violent extremism through innovative projects and messages.
The workshop was launched by the President of TRENDS Research & Advisory, Dr. Ahmed Al Hamli, who presented his views on the topic. Dr. Al Hamli outlined how online sources and mechanisms are being used to further radicalisation around the world. Furthermore, Dr. Al Hamli delved into the role of governments and private companies in this area as well as exploring practical measures being used in society for attempting to counter the forces and factors being used through online sources that lead to radicalisation.
The TRENDS workshop was chaired by Dr. Richard Burchill, Director of Research and Engagement, at TRENDS Research &
Advisory. Experts and policy makers were brought together to discuss the latest approaches and solutions to the subject from their particular perspectives. The participants in the workshop included – Nick Pickles, Head of Policy, Twitter UK, Chema Alonso, Head of Security for Telefonica (Spain), Hanif Qadir, Head of Active Change Foundation (UK), Maura Conway of VOX-POL (European Union), Shahmahmood Miakhel, Head of Operations, and Eliza Urwin, Senior Programme Officer,United States Institute for Peace –Afghanistan, Abdulaziz Al Hamza, co-founder Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (Syria), Peter Neumann,
Director and Nick Kaderbhari, Research Fellow, ICSR (London, UK). Mr. Pickles and Mr. Alonso who are experts in the industry organisations and research institutions emphasised that we need to understand explained that social media and communications systems are only platforms and that providers cannot always prevent radicalisation. The other specialists from grass-roots that for young people today there is very little difference between the “online world” and “the real world”. Evidence from their efforts showed that action needs to be taken through a variety of channels and the best methods for countering extremism needs to come from the community itself to be most effective.
Along with the participants, the TRENDS workshop also had a panel of contributors from Club de Madrid Member, which included – Ricardo Lagos, President of Chile 2000-2006; Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico 2006-2012; and Carlos Mesa, President of Bolivia 2003-2005. The former Presidents, drawing on their extensive experiences in this field, explained that the government alone cannot be responsible for countering radicalisation. They explained it is imperative for all parts
of society to work together to counter the extremist messages and ideas being found online. The further emphasised the importance of addressing the underlying causes of radicalisation, and that efforts in this respect cannot be underestimated. They recognised that there are many challenges facing states and societies, but offered a positive perspective that through co-ordinated efforts we can work together to counter the growth of extremism online.
The outcomes reached, with the two-day workshop along with the other workshops, provided further insight into the “Global Consensus” document which provided a comprehensive framework for states and societies to address violent extremism throughout the world through common values, assumptions, and principles that stand as the best way forward for achieving real progress in countering violent extremism.
The Global Consensus document is hosted on a dedicated website www.stoppingviolentextremism.org where governments, international organisations, civil society groups and individuals can sign up in support of the Global Consensus. It also contains 10 specific benchmarks against which future efforts to counter violent extremism can be measured:
1) All leaders to have a genuine commitment to open and accountable government, and respecting the rights of minorities.
(2) Political leaders to ensure that every individual, group and community has equal access to opportunity.
(3) Religious leaders to serve as role models and engage with disenfranchised youth.
(4) Educators to promote meaningful employment, human wellbeing, the empowerment of women, as well as tolerance and pluralism.
(5) Governments, civil society and the private sector to adopt online strategies that encourage free expression while challenging extremist ideologies.
(6) Governments to introduce well-funded national prevention strategies and collaborate internationally.
(7) All leaders to renew their commitment to conflict resolution.
(8) All leaders to engage in genuine regional dialogue and cooperation.
(9) Political leaders to make sure that security measures are lawful, balanced, and foster peaceful and cohesive societies in the long-term.
(10) All leaders to act with courage and credibility, and practise what they preach.
TRENDS will be working to support the dissemination and understanding of the Global Consensus document through further research, engagement, and projects designed to further realise the objectives of the Global Consensus.