Strategic communication

Using communications to build social cohesion, community reliance and counter terrorist narrative.

Preventing violent extremism through strategic communications

Terrorist and violent extremist groups radicalize and recruit individuals through online propaganda, social media platforms, networking sites and traditional media. Since the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) concerted efforts have been undertaken to identify good practices in using strategic communications to prevent the appeal of violent extremism and terrorism. The Fifth Review of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy stressed the need to address the threat posed by narratives used by terrorists and encouraged Member States to engage local communities and nongovernmental actors in developing “tailored strategies to counter the violent extremist narrative”.  

The Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE, A/70/674; A/70/675) has identified strategic communications, the internet and social media as one of seven priority areas. The plan calls on Member States “to develop and implement national communications strategies” that are tailored to local settings, gender sensitive and based on international human rights standards. Security Council Resolution 2354 (2017) similarly called for the implementation of a comprehensive international framework to counter terrorist narratives. 


This project provides context-specific capacity building support to build awareness, knowledge, and skills in strategic communications for PVE.  

  • The Project is implemented at three different levels: 
  • Raise awareness and enhance the understanding of the use of strategic communications for PVE amongst beneficiaries.
  • Advise Member States on how to develop institutional frameworks to support strategic communications for PVE  
  • Provide technical support on strategic communications focused on tailored training and advice 

Methodology of the project

The project provides context-specific capacity-building support to build awareness, knowledge, and skills at three different levels: 

  • Enhance the understanding and awareness of strategic communications for PVE among Member States and UN entities through StratCom 101 Training 
  • Advise Member States on how to develop an appropriate institutional framework to support strategic communications for PVE (e.g. through a coordinated, inter-ministerial body or a Strategic Planning Unit) 
  • Improve technical strategic communications skills of Member States, UN entities, and others, through tailored training that could include: target audience analysis; strategy concepts and design; designing and conducting assessments through data-driven mechanisms (e.g. surveys, behavioral observation, social media analyses, etc.) 
  • Disseminating content across a wide range of media that includes traditional and social media; and identifying credible messengers.  


The project takes an “All-of-UN” approach to implementation in coordination with relevant entities through the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact. 


UNOCT/UNCCT initiated the project in March 2016. Phase III began in October 2017 and will run until the end of October 2020. The project has so far provided training through a series of workshops gathering over 200 participants in South East Asia, East Africa the Caribbean and the Middle East. In 2020, the project will expand its geographic and capacity building focus.