Recently, IACP staff had the opportunity to attend several side events in New York City in conjunction with the United Nations Leaders’ Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. The events were organized in part by the U.S. Department of State and numerous non-profit organizations, including the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and Countering Extremism Project. The key themes from each event were community engagement, youth initiated programs, equality for women, and building community and international networks to confront extremism in communities around the world.
At the all-day Global Youth Summit Against Violent Extremism, participants browsed the “marketplace of ideas” where more than 40 different youth-run countering extremism programs were showcased. IACP staff gathered information on these programs and asked questions about how these programs engaged with law enforcement. Many of these programs coupled community engagement with law enforcement through town halls and educational programs with youth in rural communities.
The second day included a trip to the UN and the Strong Cities Network Launch. This international endeavor links cities around the world to share information and ideas on how to counter extremism within communities. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke about how the best way to combat extremism is by fostering strong communities with the public and by supporting the public. The Strong Cities Network works with city authorities around the world to exchange ideas on how to build stronger communities. The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, and Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, also spoke at the network launch.
Following the Strong Cities Network Launch, staff attended a follow-on panel, Linkages between Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and CVE. Panelists included representatives from the European Union, International Crisis Group, the World Bank, African Union, and Mercy Corps. Many panelists emphasized the need to create more inclusive communities which extend educational, economic, and civic opportunities to women and youth in order to counter extremism.
The final event, Countering Violent Extremism: Understanding the Role of Former Extremists, featured panelists who were former extremists. The discussion focused the question of whether former extremists could or should be used by governments to combat extremism as well as how they may be used. The panel also featured online media produced by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue targeting various extremist audiences. Representatives from Facebook, Google Ideas, and Gen Next also participated in the panel. They discussed how the private-sector can be used to provide a platform for former extremists, who are in a better position to respond to and counter the rhetoric of extremism.
Each event highlighted the need and importance of the community in combating extremism. Participating in the summit afforded IACP staff the opportunity to see how other communities are working together against extremism and to learn about new developments in countering extremism.