In view of the rise and complexity of violent radicalization and extremism and the limits of the security response, there is a growing consensus among experts and public authorities on the importance of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. Following the review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the report of the Action Plan for the Prevention of Violent Extremism, published by the United Nations Secretary General in 2016, reaffirmed the need to strengthen preventive measures. In its 2015 report titled “UNESCO’s role in promoting education as a tool to prevent violent extremism,” UNESCO’s Executive Board also underscored the central role of education, as well as the need for social pedagogy that encourages reflexivity and critical thinking as ways to prevent violent extremism among youth. Finally, during the 16th Summit of the Francophonie in 2016, the Heads of State and Government adopted a resolution on the prevention of violent radicalization and extremism that could lead to terrorism.
In Canada and elsewhere, there are increasing local needs and initiatives for prevention, awareness, training and intervention within the society and the communities of practice. However, there is still often a lack of knowledge, evidence and tools regarding the prevention of violent extremism practices, which raises real questions given the risks associated with counterproductive actions and limited sources of funding. In this context, one of the priority issues is the development of evidence-based research and the exchange of knowledge and best practices at the national and international levels. This will help to better understand the mechanisms and processes that explain the success or failure of interventions, inform public policy, strengthen the capacities of key stakeholders, improve the effectiveness of programs and enhance the resilience of our societies to violent radicalization and extremism.
CHAIR MISSION AND OBJECTIVES
Created in the fall of 2017, the Chair aims to act as a centre of excellence to develop, share and promote research and actions in the context of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of violent radicalization and extremism. It ensures close cooperation among researchers and communities of practice in a comparative, multidisciplinary and north-south perspective. The Chair set the following objectives:
- Identify, network and enhance cooperation between centres, structures of expertise and communities of practice in preventing radicalization, both in Canada and abroad;
- Provide a high level of expertise and develop innovative action research programs, as well as models based on evidence and best practices, to shape not only public policy but also radicalization and violent extremism prevention programs at the local, national and international levels;
- Support the capacity building of key stakeholders, particularly in research, in school and community settings, as well as online;
- Raise awareness, ensure visibility and transfer knowledge to the public and media.