Workshop on “Radicalization, Violent Extremism, De-radicalization, Counter Radicalization, Counter Violent Extremism in ECCAS Region”, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

A workshop on “Radicalisation, Violent Extremism, Deradicalisation, Counter radicalization and Counter Violent Extremism in ECCAS Region was held from 1st to 3rd December 2014 in the conference hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.

The workshop was organized by the African Union (AU) through the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in cooperation with the ECCAS General Secretariat, the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) and the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC).

In 2012 and 2013, the ACSRT organized 3 CVE workshops. Two for North Africa, SAHEL and West African Regions, and one for EAST Africa and the Horn of Africa Region. The third CVE workshop was jointly organized by the ACSRT and UNICRI in Algiers and dealt with radicalization and de-radicalization in prison settings. In April 2013, the ACSRT was actively involved in the Symposium on Countering Violent Extremism in West Africa and the SAHEL organized in cooperation with GCTF in Ouagadougou, from 18 to 19 April 2013.

Participants included representatives of governments, the civil society and religious leaders from the following countries: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Rwanda.

Presenters during the seminar consisted of academics, researchers and practitioners drawn from Algeria, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Nations Organization on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), African Council of Religious Leaders, ARIGATOU International and the League of Imams, Preachers and Ulemas of the Sahel Region.

The opening ceremony was led by the Acting Secretary General of the Congolese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, HE Ambassador Jacques OMBINDZA, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Counterterrorism Cooperation and Director of ACSRT, H.E. Ambassador Francisco MADEIRA and the Representative of the Executive Secretary of CISSA, Mr. Benoit NIYONZIMA.

The workshop agenda consisted of 8 sessions dedicated to different themes related to the prevention and combating of radicalization and violent extremism. During the sessions, researchers, academics and practitioners made presentations on the following topics:
Terrorism and Violent Extremism threat assessment in Africa and, more specifically, in the ECCAS Region.
Understanding the concepts of radicalization, violent extremism, de-radicalization, counter radicalization and counter violent extremism: processes, causes, effects, psychological and sociological approaches to the understanding of the concept and addressing that phenomenon.
Understanding the fight against radicalization and the role of religious leaders and faith communities in preventing the pre-violence phase of radicalization.
National, regional and international efforts undertaken to counter radicalization and violent extremism; as well as challenges thereof;
Respect of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the fight against radicalization and violent extremism.
The workshop helped clarify a number of concepts, definitions and terminology on terrorism, radicalism, fundamentalism and extremism which assisted in understanding the dialects involved in the radical discourse which lead to the commission of violent acts.
The following factors were identified as those on which efficient counter radicalization action should be based: Education, good governance (political, economic, cultural, social), Tolerance, mutual respect, inclusion, Rule of law and Human Rights and Justice.
At the end of the workshop, participants made the following recommendations:

To governments:

  • Implement the recommendations of Resolution 1624 (2005) of the UN Security Council on incitement to violence.
    Make provisions for prevention of radicalization a priority in national programmes;
  • Involve the civil society, media and religious associations in public awareness campaigns;
  • create National Committees for the Implementation of Counter Radicalisation and Counter Violent Extremism Programmes (NC-CVEP);
  • Mobilize media in the region, including community and neighbourhood radios, to help in the dissemination of awareness messages and speeches against radicalization;
  • Train religious and traditional leaders in the fight against terrorism on the general concepts contained in the fundamental religious books, on which the extremists and terrorists base their actions;
  • Establish a communication base to intensify the exchange of information and experience between the institutions involved in countering radicalization;
  • Promote inter-faith dialogue amongst communities and their leaders;
  • Strengthen democracy, respect human rights, promote peaceful conflict resolution mechanisms as effective ways to prevent terrorism;
  • Strive to eliminate injustice, social inequality, exclusion and marginalization ;
  • Promote cooperation programmes aimed at strengthening the justice systems of the regional Member States.
    • To ECCAS in cooperation with regional and international partners

    • Consider the Central African Early Warning Mechanism (MARAC) as the focal point of the ACSRT for the prevention and combating of terrorism;
    • Include an item on the agenda of the sessions of decision-making bodies titled “Implementation Report on ACSRT recommendations on the prevention and combating of terrorism in Central Africa”;
    • Work with the ACSRT to set up a regional strategy for countering radicalization and violent extremism;
    • Establish regional center for counter radicalization and violent extremism;
    • Work with other RECs in countering radicalization and violent extremism;
    • Sensitize ECCAS Member States on establishing the NC-CVEPs.

      To the ACSRT in cooperation with regional and international partners

    • Work with the RECs to help establishing the NC-CVEP and make the follow-up of their activities;
    • Help develop awareness programmes for the public and communities covering radicalization, de-radicalization, counter radicalization as well as inter-religious affairs;
    • Develop a catalog of best practices of States in the ECCAS and other RECs in preventing and countering radicalization and violent extremism;
    • Support RECs and individual States in developing strategies for countering terrorism, radicalization and violent extremism;
    • Step up awareness-raising of the need to counter radicalization and violent extremism in other regions of the continent by organizing seminars and other similar activities.