Violent extremism in South-East Asia continues to threaten peace and stability. To effectively address this threat, a wide range of actors across society are needed to help inform whole-of-society approaches to prevent and counter terrorism. In parallel, adopting measures to ensure community engagement and youth empowerment to address this challenge is key. Therefore, developing and implementing a network to foster coordination among stakeholders is not only effective, but imperative in helping build resilience.
As highlighted in the UN Secretary-General's Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, a whole-of-society approach is essential to developing effective and sustainable PVE strategies including to address threats online. In line with these recommendations, UNODC is working closely with Member States in South-East Asia to establish a regional network of PVE practitioners. This initiative is being carried out through a preparatory working group of PVE practitioners of South-East Asia which focuses on the development of a common understanding of PVE challenges, the identification of priority areas for intervention and fostering collaboration among stakeholders.
Recognizing the need for tailored PVE responses and promoting effective multi-agency and multi-disciplinary approaches, the network is comprised of seven thematic working groups. The groups address matters related to empowering youth and enhancing their involvement in PVE, strategic communications, the Internet and social media, among others.
As part of these efforts, UNODC and the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia launched the first meeting of two working groups in Kuala Lumpur on 28-29 March 2023. With a focus on empowering youth in PVE and strategic communications, the event offered a platform to discuss effective prevention policies and strategies. The discussions during the events helped to identify key working guidelines, address challenges and needs related to the respective thematic areas which provide a valuable resource for PVE practitioners in the region.
The participants emphasized the benefits of the network, particularly the exchange of knowledge and learning from their peers’ first-hand experiences. Other participants also stressed the need to empower PVE practitioners to serve their communities better and enhance resilience against violent extremism.
The activity was funded by the Government of Japan and SEARCCT.