Seminar on “Radicalization, Violent Extremism and De-radicalization in East Africa and the Horn of Africa “Experiences and Perspectives”

22—24 November 2012 – A seminar on “Radicalization, Violent Extremism and Deradicalization in East Africa and the Horn of Africa: Experiences and Perspectives” was held from 22 to 24 November 2012 in the conference hall of SIYONAT hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The seminar was organized by the African Union (AU) through the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) with the support of the Spanish government and the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC).
Participants included representatives of governments, the civil society and religious leaders from the following countries: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Presenters during the seminar consisted of academics, researchers and practitioners drawn from Algeria, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, African Council of Religious Leaders and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). The Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) was also represented.
The Somali delegation, which was expected to attend, regretted their absence caused by seat unavailability on the aircraft.
Various themes were presented by researchers, academics and practitioners on the following topics:
A. Understanding the concept of radicalization;
B. Understanding de-radicalization: definition and contemporary theories, approaches and experiences in different countries;
C. Understanding the fight against radicalization and the role of religious leaders;
D. National, regional and international efforts undertaken to counter radicalization and violent extremism;
E. Respect of human rights in the fight against radicalization and violent extremism.
The discussions helped clarify a number of concepts, definitions and terminology on terrorism, radicalism, fundamentalism and extremism which facilitated the understanding of the dialect involved in radical discourse and in calls for the commission of violent acts.
The sharing of national experiences helped participants to draw on best practices in the countries represented at the workshop.
Participants unanimously recognized the need to develop a commonly accepted definition of terrorism. They agreed that radicalization may be understood as the process that gradually leads individuals to opt for the use of violence in the definition of their relationships with their social environment and de-radicalization can restore social harmony and ultimately recover those who were recruited in various terrorist movements.
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 against the radical discourse of terrorist groups;
• Work to build resistance among the population and build the capacity of society to counter violent extremism and radicalization;
• Mobilize media in the region to counter extremist rhetoric which incites people to violence and help in the dissemination of awareness messages and speeches against radicalization;
• Involve religious and traditional leaders in the fight against terrorism;
• Establish a communication base to intensify the exchange of information and experience between the institutions involved in the countering of radicalization;
• Promote dialogue amongst religions, and communities as well as amongst religious and community leaders;
• Support inter-governmental mechanisms and instruments that promote inclusiveness, stability, reconciliation and peaceful development at the regional and sub-regional levels;
• 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 which are among the root causes of terrorism, through development measures that take particular account of the initiatives of the civil society;
• Promote cooperation programmes aimed at strengthening the justice systems of the regional Member States.
To the ACSRT:
• Work with the IGAD-SSP and the East Africa Community (EAC)to elaborate guidelines against radicalization;
• Harmonize concepts and notions with a view to developing awareness programmes for the public and religious leaders;
• Develop a catalog of best practices for States in the East Africa and Horn of African region and other regions in Africa in countering radicalization and violent extremism;
• Support Member States in developing strategies for countering radicalization and violent extremism;
• Step up awareness-raising on the need to counter radicalization and violent extremism in other regions of the continent by organizing seminars and other similar activities.