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Saturday 26th of September 2020

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The ‘Extremely Together’ initiative launches a counter-terrorism guide for young people made by young people

Thursday 6th of April 2017
IJJO Day by Day

‘Extremely Together’, an initiative under the Kofi Annan Foundation, the European Commission, One Young World organization and Amersi Foundation,  held a conference in Brussels on the 28th of March called ‘Youth Perspectives on Countering Violent Extremism’. The main objective for this event was to present the world’s first counter-extremism guide for young people made by young people. This guide was designed to promote the mobilisation of young people against violent extremism. 

Additionally, speakers shared their own strategies developed within their countries and organisations. The ‘Extremely Together’ project, managed by the Kofi Annan Foundation, is led by ten youth advocates, who work to provide young people with tools and methods to channel and transform disparaging tendencies into positive action.

The conference constituted an opportunity for those young leaders to present their work. The audience was composed of civil society organisations and representatives of the European Union, particularly from the European Commission General Directorate of International Cooperation and Development.

Eight ‘Extremely Together’ youth advocates presented their own projects, and emphasized the importance of young people to confront violent extremism around the world, highlighting as well the many forms and shapes that it could take. As said by Bjorn Ihler, a youth leader from Norway, “understanding the many faces of violent extremism is the first step towards working on solutions.”  

Kofi Annan, seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, spoke about how young and open-minded people have the best chance towards fighting violent extremism, and the importance of challenging the current politicians to make meaningful change among policies. He said “Youth have been at the receiving end of the problems my generation unloaded onto them. Wars, inequality, and climate change, are all drivers for violent extremism but there are barely any young people at the negotiating tables.”

The European Commission is a strong supporter and funder of this initiative. Neven Mimica, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said “Young people are teaching us every day. It’s really about our personal engagement and initiative with civil societies, NGOs, and so on. No corner of the globe and no lives are untouched by violent extremism and terrorism.”

‘Extremely Together’ also works closely with the One Young World organisation, which is the preeminent global forum for young leaders aged 18-30, and gathers the brightest young leaders from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections and develop solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues, bridging the gaps between youth voices and leadership around the world. Kate Robertson, co-founder of One Young World, said during her panel discussion that extremism was about “denying diversity. The message needs to be simple and clear, what is right and what is wrong, what is a counter-narrative.”

The Kofi Annan Foundation developed this initiative in response to the lack of youth engaged in these types of conversations. Young people are the most vulnerable to joining violent extremist movements, and the goal is to have young people more involved in preventative solutions for their peers.

The International Juvenile Justice Observatory currently has two projects focused on radicalisation research. The first is called ‘PRALT - The Prevention of Juvenile Radicalisation: Promoting the use of alternatives to detention through judicial training’. The project is focused on three different themes: the prevention of radicalisation in detention, tertiary prevention and reinsertion, and de-radicalisation processes through alternatives to detention, including community and family based approaches to de-radicalisation.

The second project is called ‘Strengthening Juvenile Justice Systems in the counter-terrorism context: Capacity-building and peer learning among stakeholders’. The objectives of this project are to identify, promote and strengthen juvenile justice systems’ policy responses and specialized programming to face terrorism and violent extremism in juveniles.

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  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

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  • Head Office: Rue Armand Campenhout, nº 72 bte 10. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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