Violent extremism expresses itself in different ways, depending on the context, and can manifest itself at every level and across every dimension of societies. In order to be innovative and context-specific, therefore, efforts to prevent violent extremism and invest in peace need to be grounded in joint and collaborative action between communities and local, national, regional, and international institutions.
To promote regional conversations around such efforts in the Sahel-Sahara, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the United Nations, and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs co-organized a regional seminar in N’Djamena, Chad, on May 31 and June 1, 2017. This meeting brought together more than 100 participants from fourteen countries and dozens of regional and international organizations to discuss the prevention of violent extremism from a regional perspective. This followed similar conversations organized in Dakar in June 2016 and a previous seminar in Tunis in November 2015.
These conversations highlighted the need to reflect on existing efforts to understand what works and what does not to avoid repeating past mistakes. Participants emphasized the importance of:
- Creating more spaces for dialogue among all sectors of society;
- Pursuing small-scale measures without waiting for national and international action;
- Recognizing that governments hold the primary responsibility to invest in prevention;
- Governments investing the same commitment in prevention efforts as in military engagement; and
- Highlighting and sharing previous successes in preventing violent extremism.