DeradicalizationDeradicalization and countering violent extremism

Published 25 February 2019

Since the early 2000s, more than fifty countries have developed initiatives to counter violent extremism (CVE). Despite this, there still remains a lack of strong evidence on which interventions are effective. Researchers have reviewed the literature on CVE programs to give examples of what good CVE practice should look like.

Proud boys 2017 rally in Seattle // Source:

Countering violent extremism (CVE) takes many different forms, from government-led programs such as those included in the U.K.’s counter-terrorism (CT) strategy to grassroots initiatives (see Ben Lee, Grassroots counter messaging in the UK [CREST, 2017])

Because the factors which lead to violent extremism are complex and wide-ranging, the content of programs to counter it are diverse. Consequently, the scope and definition of CVE initiatives can be unwieldy. For example, the European Commission, in 2015, defined CVE as ‘all actions that strengthen the resilience of individuals and communities to the appeal of radicalizers and extremism’. With such broad definitions, it can often be unclear how some programs, categorized as “CVE-relevant,” can be seen to impact on violent extremism.

Despite this, after over a decade of CVE initiatives a useful picture has begun to emerge, and while there is a strong need for research and evaluation on the impact of CVE programs, the Center for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) says it begins to point towards evidence of good practice relating to the design, delivery and assessment of some initiatives.

Program design
There is increasing awareness of the need to carefully target CVE programs, which can be directed at different stages of the journey into and out of extremism.

·  Primary interventions have the broadest scope. These target whole sections of a community in an effort to raise awareness about extremism and try to address its ‘root causes’.

·  Secondary interventions engage with those considered at risk of involvement in extremism, aiming to disrupt the process of radicalization.

·  Tertiary interventions are concerned with individuals already involved in extremism and seek to support disengagement, deradicalization, and reintegration.