Recent News

Why Do Cities Matter? 10 Steps That Cities Can Take to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism

Whether urban or rural, cities and other local authorities from Mumbai to Mogadishu, New York to Nice, and Paris to Pittsburgh have typically borne the brunt of violent extremist attacks. They are often the first to respond and, in the long-term, suffer from the fallout of intercommunal tensions, collective trauma of affected communities and economic slowdowns. These can last for years and spread beyond the target city. They are often the unit of government closest to local populations. They are therefore uniquely positioned to contribute to “whole of society” efforts to identify, understand and facilitate the prevention of violent extremism in their communities, contributions which should increasingly be recognized in national, regional, and global conversations about how best to address the threat in an effective and sustainable way that is sensitive to the needs and concerns of local communities. Here are 10 steps cities can take to prevent and counter violent extremism.

North Macedonia: Local Ownership of Global Challenges

While the media is rightly commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks this month, in North Macedonia the year is remembered for different reasons. It marks 20 years since an insurgency of Albanian guerrillas waged war against state security forces for more than six months. It was the culmination of a decade of civil unrest and division that can be traced back to the country’s declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. In this piece from Sefer Selimi, Founder and Executive Director of Democracy Lab, and Emir Hasanovic, Coordinator on the Strong Cities Network, they describe the steps that the country has taken to address this division, and argue for the need for local ownership and participation in North Macedonia’s prevention efforts.

How 9/11 and Its Aftermath Continues to Frustrate Local Intervention Efforts in Kenya

In the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks, Kenya became a key ally to US counter-terrorism efforts in the Horn of Africa region. However, it became clear that the country was using counter-terrorism as justification to clamp down on opposition, suppress freedoms of expression and exert force on ethnic and religious minorities, causing deep rifts between the population and Kenyan security forces. Naturally, this has made many Kenyans suspicious of counter-terrorism agendas and hindered genuine efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism efforts on the ground which depend in many respects on the existence of a modicum of trust between national and local, and security and non-security actors. Dominic Pkalya, Senior Programme Manager on the Strong Cities Network, and Akyar Maalim, an Associate on the Strong Cities Network, argue that the country’s County Action Plans need greater support and investment if they are to address these issues.

Between Countering and Preventing: Lebanon and the Legacy of 9/11

The U.S. military-led response to 9/11 and the beginning of the ‘Global War on Terror’ in 2001 became a flashpoint for counter-terrorism efforts around the world, perhaps nowhere more so than in the wider Middle East. The interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq had inevitable and intractable consequences for the region and became a rallying call for Islamist jihadist movements in the 2000s whose shockwaves continue to shape the political and security landscape today. Lebanon’s position in the region has always been precarious, and the country has frequently fallen victim to its seemingly constant political upheavals. Despite, and perhaps because of these challenges therefore, Lebanon has always remained especially sensitive to the limitations of an overly-securitized response to violence and the need for robust and sustainable initiatives that seek to address its root causes. The SCN’s Beirut Office, Lama Awad, Ghida El-Assaad, and Nicolas Gholam, examine the country’s approach to P/CVE and the many challenges it now faces in light of recent events.

Change is Coming to Lebanon, and it is Being Driven at the Local Level

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the Beirut Port explosion. In recent years, the country has been brought to the brink of economic and political collapse, which the explosion and the pandemic have only exacerbated. Since the Lebanese government has been unable to effect change, it has fallen to local alliances of civil society groups, communities and local actors to drive it from the bottom-up. Nicolas Gholam, a Coordinator on the Strong Cities Network based in Beirut, explains.

Improving Education is Key to Countering Polarisation and Violence in Nigeria

Recently, the Strong Cities Network (SCN) conducted a series of virtual city consultations in the four north-western Nigerian states of Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara, which provided a window into the challenges of preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) subnationally, and where efforts could be further supported and developed.