UNGA 2017: GSX event on Preventing Violent Extremism through Civil Society Innovation

On the margins of the 72nd UN General Assembly, the Global Solutions Exchange (GSX) hosted #GSX2017 – Innovations in Civil Society and Other Locally-Led Efforts to Prevent Violent Extremism, marking GSX’s first year of activity.

The all-day event brought civil society practitioners from around the globe together with representatives from national and local authorities and multilateral institutions, to highlight their unique contributions to reducing recruitment and radicalization to violence in their communities. #GSX2017 emphasized that local actors are at the frontlines of pioneering diverse, innovative, positive, and sustainable efforts aimed at preventing violent extremism (PVE) and promoting pluralism and inclusivity.

The event was opened by H. E. Anders Samuelson, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, highlighting the need for more international cooperation. Sessions thereafter showcased the value of stronger collaboration between national and local actors on PVE and how an inclusive process of developing and delivering national PVE action plans and strategies can support this effort.

The Strong Cities Network hosted a session on “Engaging Cities, Local Authorities, and Grassroots Prevention Networks”. Representatives, including Prevention Network Focal points from Jordan and Lebanon, discussed examples of effective local and municipal-led PVE efforts focusing on cities in different regions, which have built local risk profiles, set up civil society partnerships, and delivered effective mitigation efforts at the local level. The important contribution that multi-disciplinary, local networks can make to PVE and build social cohesion more broadly was emphasized.

Conference participants also underlined the innovative approaches that youth bring to PVE and the necessity of youth being an integral partner of governments in PVE efforts. Despite the important role that civil society organizations (CSOs) play in PVE efforts, speakers reminded the audience of the ways in which the legal and political space for CSOs is shrinking in some contexts and the need to reverse this troubling trend. Throughout the day, participants stressed how imperative it is for more governments and multilateral institutions to recognize and support civil society as a strong partner in PVE. This sentiment was reiterated by Norwegian State Secretary Tone Skogen’s closing remarks.

#GSX2017 marked a significant step forward in solidifying the participation of local actors and networks in policy conversations around PVE. During the event, the GSX released a number of important policy documents, reflecting the views of a diverse group of local and international civil society actors, which provide governments and other PVE stakeholders with practical recommendations for enhancing the impact that local actors have in addressing the global phenomenon of violent extremism. You can find the GSX’s policy documents also on the SCN Online Library.

In the weeks ahead, a summary of #GSX2017 and its outcomes and next steps will be made available.
For questions or more information concerning the GSX please contact [email protected]

Written by: Franziska Praxl (GSX) 

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