Lessons for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism: An Evidence-Based Approach

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As the conclusion to the Prevention Project series, this paper identifies cross-cutting findings and recommendations.

This Occasional Paper is part of RUSI’s Prevention Project, a multi-year effort to collate, assess and strengthen the existing knowledge base for preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) interventions across different thematic and geographic areas. The research for this project found that the evidence base for programme efficacy remains limited, with little information sharing, weak monitoring and evaluation regimes, a reliance on the same relatively small cluster of case studies, and a general lack of longitudinal analysis hampering collective understandings of P/CVE outcomes.

As the conclusion to the Prevention Project series, the paper identifies cross-cutting findings and recommendations, highlighting key lessons and themes reflected in both the available literature and data collected from the research team’s fieldwork in Kenya and Lebanon. Key findings include:

  1. Securitising other types of intervention, such as development programming, by conflating them with P/CVE could undermine their purpose while failing to achieve P/CVE objectives.
  2. Integrated interventions can help mitigate harmful outcomes and increase the efficacy of P/CVE programmes.
  3. Identifying intervention target groups should be guided by evidence-based risk and protective factors rather than assumptions when designing programmes.
  4. Those in the wider social environments of ‘at-risk’ individuals are often well placed to identify signs of radicalisation and warning behaviours, but it should not be assumed that they are always able to spot or will report such concerns.
  5. Relatability and access to target populations should guide decisions on who to involve and support in P/CVE programme implementation.
  6. The process of engaging in P/CVE interventions and the trust built between intervention providers and participants play an important role in the impact an intervention can have on participants.

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Prevention Project

A comprehensive research programme on the effectiveness of preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) projects.


Michael Jones

Research Fellow

Terrorism and Conflict

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Claudia Wallner

Research Fellow

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Emily Winterbotham

Director, Terrorism and Conflict

Terrorism and Conflict

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