The EU research project PAVE (Preventing and Addressing Violent Extremism through Community Resilience in the Western Balkans and the MENA) aims to tackle the global issue of radicalisation by examining its root causes and driving factors. Based on a comparative assessment of local communities with features of vulnerability or resilience to violent extremism across seven case study countries, the 13 international partner institutions will develop concrete policy recommendations to inform citizens and stakeholders within and beyond the regions under study. Over the next three years, the consortium will receive EUR 3 million funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.
In the light of an increase in radicalism and violent extremism in Europe and worldwide, there is a growing need for a common political strategy and effective prevention measures. It seems especially relevant to look into the local, regional and national contexts and transnational dynamics of violent extremism in the European neighbourhood and to draw concrete lessons for the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy and the expanding scope of its external engagement.
While the phenomenon of violent extremism has received increased attention from the research community within and beyond the EU, preventive strategies have been neglected as an object of study, and most analysis so far has been directed towards its transnational effects (such as the phenomenon of foreign fighters) and securitised counter-terrorism approaches. When it comes to examining the various ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors of radicalisation and violent extremism, scholars have predominantly adopted a macro-level perspective (e.g. structural drivers) or a micro-level perspective (e.g. profiling radicalised individuals). There is, however, a significant knowledge gap regarding the impact of socio-political interactions at the meso-level, which this project will address.
By generating new knowledge about the role of local communities in fuelling and/or preventing radicalisation dynamics, we will provide valuable insights into the tools and mechanisms that EU and other stakeholders can use in addressing factors and contexts of violent extremisms.
A particular focus will be laid on the assessment of existing preventive initiatives and measures to enhance community resilience in the following four thematic areas:
- The interface between religious, political and ethnic/sectarian extremisms
- The interaction between religious and state institutions
- On- and offline narratives and (de-)radicalisation
- Transnational interactions, including impact on and from Europe
Within the three-year project lifetime, the interdisciplinary research team will develop innovative training tools and guidelines to support agents of community resilience (including religious leaders, mayors, educators, civil society organisations, women and youth), and will support mutual learning on best practices engaging stakeholders, community leaders, policy-makers and the wider public in the EU, MENA and Western Balkans.