Director of Africa Programs at the Auschwitz Institute
for Peace and Reconciliation
About the Report
The report assesses capacities, challenges, policies, programmes and activities taking place in Uganda in relation to P/CVE-related national-local co-operation (NLC), using the GCTF’s NLC Good Practices as a point of reference. It then provides recommendations for strengthening national-local and broader P/CVE-related cooperation throughout the country. The recommendations are illustrative rather than comprehensive and are aimed at providing entry points for discussions to enhance NLC as part of a wider effort to operationalise and sustain a whole-of-society approach to P/CVE in Uganda.
This report was commissioned by SCN's Management Unit, with support from Australia’s DFAT. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the interviewees, workshop articipants, SCN, its members, Management Unit or donors, including DFAT.
1. Uganda recently elaborated a national P/CVE strategy and an accompanying 11-point plan of action. However, the document is not publicly available, leaving few Ugandans aware of its existence, let alone its content. Moreover, although there is an office – the National Technical Committee (NTC) within the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) – responsible for overseeing strategy implementation, it is under-resourced, particularly when compared with the agencies involved in overseeing the implementation of Ugandan counter-terrorism (CT) efforts. Moreover, the national government does not allocate funding for locally led P/CVE activities. As a result, all such activities are funded by international donors and development partners, with the projects often being driven by the interests of external stakeholders rather than those of local communities.
2. Uganda’s elaborate decentralisation structures offer advantages for facilitating and strengthening NLC. However, the national government’s centralised and securitised approach to countering terrorism has increasingly limited the mandate and ability of local authorities to respond to the needs of their communities or address local conflicts. This has impeded their ability to contribute to P/CVE efforts, reinforcing the notion the mandate for P/CVE rests exclusively with the national government.
3. The state-centric approach to P/CVE fuels perceptions of the threat of violent extremism (VE) as a national problem. This in turn undermines NLC and diminishes chances of a structured dialogue involving national and local actors. Instead, P/CVE is perceived by some as a ploy for the security sector to justify it being given the largest share of the national budget.
4. Security agencies often apply CT policies and tools against (non-violent) extremist groups, Muslim communities and political opposition leaders. This has eroded trust, particularly between local communities and security forces, undermining NLC efforts. Because P/CVE is largely seen through a security paradigm, there is a perception that any form of collaboration with national actors is contributing to a further securitisation of the approach.
5. Cross-cutting structural problems, including poverty, poor management of natural resources, and corruption, have both helped fuel extremist violence and hindered nationwide collaborative efforts to address the conditions conducive to its spread.
6. Nearly everyone interviewed for this report believe that P/CVE-related cooperation between national and local actors is either limited or non-existent. One of the major hurdles to NLC remains the absence of an institutionalised framework – let alone mechanism(s) to implement it – for dialogue and cooperation between national and local actors to be able to develop and implement coherent and complementary local P/CVE programmes. In the absence of a co-ordination mechanism, national and local institutions and organisations working on P/CVE-related activities largely operate independently of each other, often competing and acting in self-interest to be prominent and seen as active.
7. Community policing activities of the Uganda Police Force (UPF) can provide opportunities for inclusive dialogue to strengthen P/CVE-related NLC – including through town hall meetings and community watch teams. However, the UPF and other security actors lack the necessary P/CVE knowledge and skills to leverage these opportunities.
8. No sustained P/CVE capacity-building programmes are reported in Uganda, and the few short-term training seminars and workshops intended to advance P/CVE efforts in the country are not seen as having contributed to P/CVE or related policy discussions or changes in the public or private sectors.
9. Political will at the national level to prevent and counter VE appears to be increasing, as evidenced, for example, by the recent elaboration of a national P/CVE strategy in Uganda. However, there is limited focus on prevention in practice, whether through dialogue, resilience building or social-economic interventions in marginalised or affected communities. Moreover, because of the heavy involvement of national security agencies and actors in P/CVE, information about relevant activities is often classified and thus not shared with local government and civil society actors.
10. Civil society organisations (CSOs) in Uganda are involved in implementing local P/CVE activities. They are well versed in local-level drivers of and dynamics surrounding VE and are well placed to cultivate local partnerships and ownership of local P/CVE efforts. However, competition for limited funding opportunities has created few incentives for strengthening intra-CSO cooperation and communication. This contributes to a lack of clarity among CSOs as to their appropriate role(s) in P/CVE efforts.
11. The NTC appears committed to expanding and deepening engagement with local governments and CSOs across the country. However, these interactions seem so far to be largely limited to creating awareness about the national P/CVE strategy and have yet to include essential local actors, such as cultural and religious leaders, and representatives from political parties and informal sector groups. Where such interaction exists, it is not formally organised or recorded, and in other cases it is security or intelligence-led, especially when threats or incidents have been reported.
Summary of Recommendations
1. Conduct inclusive dialogues
- Conduct inclusive dialogues that involve NTC, NCTC and non-security national actors, as well as representatives from local government and CSOs, to integrate the national P/CVE and CT frameworks into an integrated and comprehensive strategy based on a shared understanding of the threat that should inform related programmes and activities towards a whole-of-society approach to P/CVE.
- The dialogues would help national and local actors to mitigate security and political pressures, and other factors that may undermine NLC; define roles and responsibilities for implementing the national P/CVE framework; develop multi-stakeholder programming
leading to implementation at the local level; and ensure that perspectives of local actors are reflected throughout.
- Undertake national- and community-level dialogues to determine roles and define expectations to inform localised P/CVE programming and facilitate discussions among local leaders and communities to identify and address drivers of VE.
- Facilitate local government-led dialogues to incorporate the national P/CVE strategy into national, district and local government programmes targeting women, youth, education, environment, governance, poverty alleviation, corruption and other livelihood improvement activities. For example, capacity-building programmes implemented by district- and community-level working groups and structures, such as the sub-county and parish local councils, could be leveraged to facilitate multi-stakeholder co-ordination to implement the national P/CVE strategy, and hold regular meetings with communities to identify and address local issues and concerns related to VE.
2. Move beyond a security-led approach to P/CVE
- Expand the mandates of national government forums such as the IPOD and PCF to provide politically inclusive platforms where political leaders and their manifestos can also work to strengthen cooperation with local actors on P/CVE matters.
- Leverage the IPOD to allow political leaders and their respective political parties to discuss and agree on a P/CVE agenda, which can be incorporated into their codes of conduct, to guide stakeholders to avoid the perpetration of extremism and radicalisation of their supporters and to help rally political parties to commit to sharing lessons and expertise around P/CVE.
- Conduct institutional- and community-level P/CVE resilience mapping to help determine VE vulnerabilities, and implement evidence-based strategies towards more effective and sustainable P/CVE interventions. These should, inter alia, support the implementation of tailored programmes to address existing vulnerabilities and increase the recurrence of impactful programmes, while mitigating the risk of further securitisation and exacerbating any existing perceptions of exclusion and marginalisation.
- Increase public awareness of the existence and content of the national P/CVE strategy and its accompanying plan of action, e.g., by making them widely accessible and convening a high-level multi-stakeholder event to launch them.
- Include budget lines dedicated to P/CVE programme development and implementation, particularly at the local level in relevant MDAs, including those outside the security sector.
- Develop and implement multi-stakeholder P/CVE programming linked to the national P/CVE framework to facilitate its implementation at the local level, build partnerships, and allocate roles and resources for implementing the embedded action plan, which contains the 11 priority areas for interventions and other programmes. Hold dialogue sessions to ensure that the action plan implementation approaches incorporate the perspectives of local actors, both governmental and civil society.
- Support implementation of initiatives seeking to build synergy and increase collaboration between formal and informal institutions and sectors, in the form of raising awareness and strengthening co-ordination through dialogue, public outreach, and other relevant and inclusive initiatives around P/CVE. The initiatives should benefit from consultations with and participation of local P/CVE and peacebuilding practitioners concerning what actually works in specific contexts, while avoiding what does not.
4. Raise awareness and build capacity
- Support and build the capacity of CSOs, religious and cultural leaders, and institutions, to be able to participate and otherwise engage in national and local government policymaking discussions and programme development, and facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogues that can contribute to P/CVE. For example, training should build skills for P/CVE advocacy, planning and project implementation; stakeholder engagement to mobilise political will and support; communication; and resource mobilisation and related practices to enhance cooperation between national and local actors.
- Raise awareness of the benefits of a whole-of-society approach to addressing VE, including through workshops, seminars and policy briefs across government MDAs, to help demystify P/CVE as solely a security matter, and promote the benefits of integrating P/CVE approaches into wider national and local government (non-security) programming. Aim integration at mainstreaming P/CVE into projects and activities to redress local grievances and conditions that breed the appeal of VE.
- Build capacity for a P/CVE early warning and early response system, to collect and analyse data on emergent VE risks, threats and vulnerabilities, and to create evidence-based opportunities for early P/CVE responses.
5. Coordinate and share information
- Mandate and resource the NTC to serve as a multi-stakeholder co-ordination mechanism, which includes national and local actors, to guide investment in and oversee the implementation of local P/CVE activities to help ensure alignment between local programmes and the national framework.
- Formalise information sharing through regular multi-stakeholder forums involving national and local security, political, civil society, cultural, religious, women and youth actors concerning P/CVE. A mechanism to facilitate discussions on the dissemination of information related to VE and P/CVE is needed to address existing information gaps – often fuelled by trust deficits between these sectors – which limit the complementarity between programmes and activities.
- Mandate and resource CiSCAVE to coordinate P/CVE activities among CSOs across the regions of the country and to track P/CVE funding patterns. Consider launching a public-private fund that can mobilise contributions from different sources and support local P/CVE activities, including those aimed at strengthening NLC.
6. Research and document
- Given the evolving nature of the threat, sustained research and documentation of conditions, causes, manifestations and opportunities for NLC towards P/CVE is needed to ensure P/CVE policies, programmes and interventions are evidence-based and efforts to enhance P/CVE-related NLC focus on addressing the documented threats and vulnerabilities, supported by research. This can help de-politicise P/CVE conversations, which in turn can help reduce the trust-related barriers to enhancing NLC. Facilitate quality management of NLC towards effective co-ordination and implementation of P/CVE interventions, and their continuous improvement in planning and impact.
- Support the culture of information sharing and exchange across national and local governments, MDAs of government, civil society and local governments.