Preventing violent extremism

Graffiti as an appeal for peace during Nairobi rioting © Frederic Courbet/Panos

Prevention of violent extremism belongs among the priorities of Swiss foreign policy. It is part of peace policy and of the commitment for human security and prevention of violence. The FDFA wants to support its partners with a foreign policy action plan to remove the breeding grounds from violent extremism.

Switzerland is assessing the direct and structural causes for violent extremism. It wants to help design the social setting so that people will not be enraptured by political, social, or economic violence – and not be enlisted by violent extremists. Youth particularly should gain perspectives and alternatives. 

Human security and prevention of violence

Prevention of violent extremism (PVE) means among other things for Switzerland to reinforce its peace and human rights policy. It wants to be active where it has knowledge and experience. This means in countries and regions directly affected by conflicts, which have only weak national structures available or find themselves in a transitional phase. It wants to mediate in conflicts there, prevent conflicts, promote human rights, or support democracy and promote political participation as well as the rule of law and power sharing. 

Switzerland, for instance, supports projects by nongovernmental organizations in Lebanon and Tunisia to promote good governance and respect for human rights. For political, social, and economic exclusion and abuse of human rights belong among the reasons that people turn to violent extremism. 

Youth and women

Switzerland works closely with civil society. Women and youth stand in the foreground. They are not only victims or perpetrators of violent extremism but also important partners in its prevention. Switzerland is engaged in specific projects and programs against social, political, and economic exclusion. Hence it supports a youth project in a deprived suburb of Tunis in which youths are involved in district policy. The goal is to improve their social and political integration. They should gain perspectives and thus see alternatives to extremist violence. 

Working with urban youth in Tunisia’s transition 

The FDFA not only promotes participation of women in local projects but also within the framework of the equality and human rights strategy. The FDFA, for instance, supports the annual PVE Forum of the network Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL). In 2016, for example, it addressed measures within the spheres of education and religion. 

Women's Alliance for Security Leadership 

International cooperation

Switzerland also supports the PVE discussion through various initiatives within the framework of international or regional organizations such as the UN and OSCE, the Organisation de la Francophonie, and the African Union. This also places combatting causes and youth at centre stage. 

At the regional level, Switzerland teamed up during June 2016 in Dakar to launch the initiative Investing in Peace and Prevention of Violence in West Africa and the Sahel-Sahara with the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS). 

Investing in Peace and the Prevention of Violence in West Africa and the Sahel-Sahara

Finally Switzerland works within its action plan efforts to support and expand International Geneva as the skills centre for human rights and the rule of law. Besides housing the UN Human Rights Council, it hosts numerous platforms and organizations that perform an important contribution in preventing conflicts and violent extremism. 

International Geneva