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The GCTF’s Good Practices on Strengthening National-Local Cooperation in P/CVE: Mapping the Implementation, Progress, Gaps, Needs and Priorities in Uganda

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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.

Key Findings

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.