Preventing violent extremism through education : A guide for policy-makers
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The context – Violent extremism has become a serious threat facing societies across the world. It affects the security, well-being and dignity of many individuals living in both developed and developing countries, as well as their peaceful and sustainable ways of life. It also poses grave challenges to human rights. To date, the challenges presented by violent extremism have been evaluated primarily through military and security lenses. From 2001 to 2017, the United States government alone will have spent approximately US$1.78 trillion to fight terrorism. The European Union’s spending is estimated to have increased from €5.7 million in 2002 to €93.5 million in 2009. Governments are increasingly aware that allocating funds to reinforce security measures is insufficient to protect everyone from terrorist attacks perpetrated by violent extremist individuals. Efforts to prevent violent extremism must be considered within a holistic framework. Global strategy – In this context, the fifth review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (30 June - 1 July 2016) provided the opportunity to reemphasize, among other objectives, the importance of prevention efforts and welcomed the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (released in December 2015). On this occasion the UN General Assembly recommended that countries consider the implementation of its relevant recommendations, as applicable to national contexts, with the support of the United Nations. In the Plan, the UN Secretary-General calls for a comprehensive approach to address the underlying conditions that drive individuals to join violent extremist groups. Among its action priorities is the necessity to support “Education, skills development and employment facilitation” as a means to foster respect for human diversity and prepare young people to enter the workplace. The recommendation also addresses the need to invest in programmes that promote global citizenship and provide comprehensive primary through tertiary education, including technical and vocational education.