Kenya workshop examines strategies to counter incitement and violent extremism
A national workshop on the effective implementation of Security Council resolution 1624, focusing on preventing incitement to commit terrorist acts and countering violent extremism, took place in Nairobi from 7 to 9 May 2014. CTED and the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) co-organized the workshop with the assistance of the Human Security Collective.
The resolution adopted in 2005 urges Member States to prevent terrorism by tackling emerging trends, such as the increased use of the Internet and other technologies to incite to commit terrorist acts, and conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.
Terrorists take advantage of conflicts, ethnic and religious tensions, weak governments, poverty, and lack of options for young people.
"They are willing to go anywhere and do anything to recruit people and carry out their deadly plans," said Mr. Weixiong Chen, Deputy Executive Director of CTED. "Terrorist groups operate like criminal multinational organizations and have a strong marketing plan."
The Security Council calls on States to prevent and criminalize incitement, strengthen international cooperation and border control, and enhance dialogue and understanding among civilizations.
"To be successful, counter-terrorism strategies must involve different social actors and be grounded in the rule of law and human rights," said Mr. Edward Flynn, Senior Human Rights Adviser at CTED, who added that communities should be involved in finding solutions. Members of the community that could add value to discussions on counter-terrorism include women, youth and religious leaders.
The Executive Director of the ICCT, Peter Knoope, said Kenya has the "good fortune to have a dynamic civil society sector" that can face the challenges that terrorism and violent extremism pose. Working together, the Government and civil society are in a position to "defeat the wave of terrorism that is victimizing Kenya."
The workshop in Kenya brought together Government officials, representatives of civil society and international organizations. A key aim was to promote mutual cooperation, respect, trust and support among all sectors towards the common purpose of preventing acts of terrorism and countering violent extremism.
Mr. Chen said: "We at the UN recommend a comprehensive approach that gives equal weight to prevention of and prosecution for terrorist offences, and takes into consideration what communities are going through. At the same time, the approach should counter the philosophy of violent extremism."
Education is one way in which a culture of tolerance and respect can be promoted. The media, along with communities and religious groups, could also have an impact in countering the hateful narratives of violent extremists with messages of peace and tolerance.
Development and employment are additional elements to consider integrating into Kenya's national counter-terrorism strategy. In order to prevent young vulnerable people from being radicalized, it is important to present to them a viable alternative to violence.
"We must offer people a reason for hope and give them the feeling that their voices are being heard," Mr. Flynn said.
Civil society groups participating in the event indicated they wanted to work with youth. As one representative put it, "We want them to turn 50, not die before 25." Families, groups and peers could help by identifying early signs of trouble, establishing mentoring programmes, and empowering young people in a variety of ways.
Participants agreed that it was essential to organize a follow-up meeting, with the Accountability and Advocacy Charter on Countering Violent Extremism in Kenya taking the lead. Participants also called on the donor community to support long-term projects, and the international community to exchange experiences and coordinate the initiatives that are developed.