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The world is becoming less peaceful: global incidents of conflict, homicides, terrorist incidents and violent crime are all rising, some quite significantly. Yet the drivers of this insecurity are becoming increasingly challenging to understand and respond to, as the perpetrators range from internet-enabled virtual attacks, to lone wolves, insurgent conflict, ideology-related violence as well as a return to inter-state conflict. The impact is felt in chronic humanitarian needs, unprecedented levels of migration flows, and growing inequality, which then exacerbate the root causes and drivers of insecurity.
Violent extremist ideologies are gaining an unprecedented level of traction across the globe, taking root in local communities and controlling territory in a number of fragiles tates, as well as attracting a growing number of disenfranchised citizens in other states. Their messages that incite hate, perpetuate violence and invoke terror should have no place in a modern and civilised world.
It is important to emphasise that violent extremism is a global problem, which can manifest itself in all cultures and all religions but with different specific characteristics. Radicalisers work by pointing to social, political and economic injustice around their followers. They promote a belief that these injustices result from a corrupt system of politics or ideology. To be persuasive, many of these arguments are based on facts and truths but are selective and incomplete in the way they employ reality. More importantly, the means by which they seek to redress this injustice is through violence, greater oppression and victimisation.
Thus, the challenge for policy-makers has arguably never been greater as the international community needs to bring all of its tools to the table both to resolve on-going crises and prevent their re-occurrence. The European Union, with its Member States, is the world’s largest development actor, with a comprehensive global reach and a range of instruments that engage on continental, regional and national levels. Our approaches span from long-term preventive engagements on trade, infrastructure and development-orientated service delivery, to short-term stabilisation instruments that can deliver targeted humanitarian relief and recovery measures.
Addressing both the manifestations of violent extremism and the conditions conducive to violent extremism is a developmental challenge. It will require strengthening the fundamental building blocks of equitable development, human rights, governance and the rule of law. A diverse range of stakeholders need to be brought to the table and empowered, including not only state actors and security institutions, but also key members of local communities and civil society who can speak courageously and compellingly about truth, tolerance and acceptance. Thus, while a strong response to violent extremism is required, it should be based on civil liberties and address insecurity, inequality and marginalisation. The EU is committed to working with partners across the globe to achieve this in the interests of all citizens.
Over the last decade, the Commission has invested much in combatting this threat by addressing the conditions conducive to extremism, and building capacity to reinforce the rule of law and promote development. The Commission aims to achieve the strengthening of vulnerable communities through capacity building. This brochure highlights some of the Commission-funded or -supported approaches throughout the world that contribute to this effort.