PREVENTING VIOLENT EXTREMISM THROUGH EDUCATION


 

There is no internationally accepted definition of violent extremism. The most common understanding of the term is that it refers to the beliefs and actions of people who support or use violence to achieve ideological, religious or political objectives. This includes terrorism and other forms of political and sectarian violence. Typically “violent extremism” is also defined as the targeting of an enemy, or enemies, with the intent to espouse or commit acts of hatred or violence”. The conceptual core of violent extremism is that it is an ideological use of violence, usually based on conspiracy theories.

Risk factors: these are structural and cyclical elements that are conducive to violent extremism, including the absence of socio-economic opportunities, food insecurity, socio-economic marginalization, tensions over the management of natural resources, and the absence of effective border controls.

Motivationnal factors: these are understood as individual motivations that attract potential recruits and justifications that can be used to legitimize violence. Examples include individual background; identification with collective grievances; distortion and misuse of beliefs and ideologies; and attraction of charismatic leaders.
The French-speaking world is facing many conflicts and new transnational phenomena, such as piracy, terrorism and organized crime, which are all threats to peace and security. To address these challenges, in 2006, the states and governments of La Francophonie adopted another fundamental normative text, the Saint-Boniface Declaration on Conflict Prevention and Human Security, in addition to the Bamako Declaration.

Stability issues are particularly crucial in transition periods after conflict, which are often characterized by political, social, economic and institutional fragility of the state.
In addition, the mobilization of actors and groups that master the French language within the French-speaking world is an important condition for the success of peace missions. In particular, French language proficiency facilitates communication between authorities, military personnel and local populations. The participation of Francophone states in these operations and the use of French by non-French-speaking military and police stakeholders are factors of operational effectiveness.

Violent extremism in Africa

Many "push" factors are present in West Africa and the Sahel, particularly in countries with fragile central governments, high rates of corruption and crime and underdeveloped education systems. Extremist groups operating in the region also use "pull" factors in their messages, particularly among vulnerable populations such as children and youth, to radicalize youth and recruit new members (Davies, 2008).
In West Africa and the Sahel, the work of the prevention of violent extremism through education (PVE-E) is particularly important as education levels remain low, climate change and environmental degradation threaten traditional livelihoods and human development remains limited, increasing vulnerabilities to radicalization.

In recent years, the landscape of violent extremism in West Africa and the Sahel has become increasingly fractured and complex. Extremist activities have spread throughout the region in terms of frequency, severity of attacks and number of countries affected (Beri, 2017).
Attacks by extremist groups in West Africa and the Sahel increased by 200% and deaths by 750% from 2009 to 2015 (Cummings, 2017). As a result of the spread of violence, an "arc of instability" has spread in West Africa and the Sahel, encompassing vast areas of Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Cameroon (Cooke et al., 2016).

Between 2000 and 2014, there were 37 insurgencies, transnational jihadist groups and liberation movements operating in the Sahel (United Nations Support Plan for the Sahel).
A handful of violent groups claimed responsibility for the majority of the attacks, including Boko Haram and Al Qaeda-affiliated groups in the Sahel. The Boko Haram insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon left 10.7 million people in urgent need of assistance and displaced more than 2.5 million people (including 1.5 million children). More than 205,000 people, mainly women and children, live in refugee camps in the region (United Nations Support Plan for the Sahel).

To effectively combat the impact of these forces in West Africa and the Sahel, the PVE-E aims to equip young people with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to strengthen their resilience and to reaffirm their commitment to peace and non-violence.