The Strong Cities Network invited four experts to discuss the findings of a three-month long investigation into the barriers to national-local cooperation.
National-Local Cooperation (NLC) is as an essential component of global efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism (P/CVE). Many such efforts are traditionally top-down, securitised and the domain of law enforcement. But this approach often excludes or overlooks local governments and civil society – stakeholders with critical knowledge and understanding of local dynamics, who have the means to access communities and to address their grievances. To assess the state of play of NLC, the Strong Cities Network, with support from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the EU, led four targeted deep dives which analysed efforts in East and West Africa, Indonesia and Uganda.
In September, we invited the four local experts who led these deep dives to present their findings and discuss ways to help improve NLC. With 107 registrations from policymakers, practitioners and other key stakeholders, the event was an important and timely discussion on what needs to change across the four regions and globally for more effective NLC integration in P/CVE efforts.
Crucial barriers to NLC that the experts identified included the lack of trust and information sharing between security forces and local communities, which Christopher Hockey, Research Fellow at RUSI Nairobi, found to be among the most prevalent and entrenched barriers across all four contexts. According to Francis Ansong, an independent researcher based in Ghana, found that overly centralised government and the lack of local autonomy mean P/CVE efforts have largely neglected local authorities and other non-security actors. Mohamad Rizki Maulana, Managing Director at the Institute for International Peacebuilding in Indonesia, found that limited coordination between national and local actors mean P/CVE approaches often compete with rather than complement other services and structures. Dr. Ashad Sentongo, Director of Africa Programs at the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation in Uganda, found that the securitisation of P/CVE and its conflation with counterterrorism means P/CVE is seen as the domain of national government and security forces, stifling the role that local actors can play.
Preliminary findings and a select number of recommendations from these deep-dives have been condensed into a Strong Cities Network Policy Brief on the implementation of the GCTF NLC good practices.
The findings from these deep dives will inform a user-friendly toolkit, funded by DFAT, to facilitate the tailored implementation of the good practices in diverse contexts. It will include case studies from different regions, implementation checklists and context-tailored guidance. The toolkit is expected to launch in September 2023.
About the GCTF Good Practices for Strengthening National-Local Cooperation
Released in September 2020, the GCTF Memorandum of NLC Good Practices was designed with the understanding that national-local cooperation is an essential component of preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) conducive to terrorism. The Memorandum articulates thirteen good practices for P/CVE actors to consider as they look to enhance coordination and cooperation between national and local government, civil society organisations and the private sector.
Independent Researcher, Ghana
Research Fellow, RUSI Nairobi, Kenya