Why Preventing Violent Extremism Needs Sustaining Peace

The dual “sustaining peace” resolutions adopted by the Security Council and General Assembly in April 2016 did not mention how this concept might be applied to responses to violent extremism. Nonetheless, given the failure of existing responses and the constantly evolving, multi-faceted nature of the problem, there is a clear need to examine the issue from this perspective.

This issue brief examines how the sustaining peace agenda is well-positioned to recalibrate responses to violent extremism. It can help to mobilize political will for meaningful change among actors within the multilateral system while also encouraging civil society, the private sector, women’s and youth groups, and other sectors to be agents for change in their own countries and communities. In order to achieve this change, proponents of sustaining peace will need to:

  • Advocate moving away from reactive, security-focused responses to violent extremism in isolation from other approaches;
  • Acknowledge that countering and preventing violent extremism (CVE/PVE) are broadly compatible with sustaining peace;
  • Increase awareness of the state-centric nature of CVE/PVE and work to make these efforts more inclusive;
  • Compel policymakers and practitioners to consider the broader range of causes of instability and conflict beyond just violent extremism; and
  • Encourage actors within the UN system and its member states to focus more on factors that contribute to peaceful societies rather than only on those that contribute to conflict.