The Commonwealth has pledged to work with member countries to identify best practices and tools to counter violent extremism. These include making it more difficult to use the internet for terrorist purposes and challenging hate speech online with positive narratives.
Speaking at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) conference in Delhi in India this week, the Commonwealth’s countering violent extremism (CVE) expert, Assan Ali, said the 53-member intergovernmental organisation is exploring a number of collaborations and partnerships that will underscore the efforts of member countries to address this key security issue.
Currently the Commonwealth’s CVE unit, set up within the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2017, is helping countries to develop and strengthen national strategies to prevent and counter violent extremism as well as providing technical support and training for both government and civil society partners.
Mr Ali added that the conference, which was co-hosted by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy under the theme “Tackling Insurgent Ideologies”, was a golden opportunity for the Commonwealth to make valuable connections and to contribute its growing experience in the field.
He said, “The Foundation is India’s leading independent think-tank, so it’s a great privilege to be invited to speak at this conference. I think it demonstrates the global recognition of the Commonwealth’s efforts on preventing and countering violent extremism.
“We certainly benefited from the opportunity to network, participate in the frank discussions and the chance to share and learn from others’ experiences, challenges and successes. The experience will no doubt strengthen our work on this issue.”
The conference focussed on understanding how extremists make use of the gaps in digital platforms for recruitment, how to address the pressing need to find a balance between hate speech and freedom of expression, and how to build innovative campaigns to check online extremism.
The event was attended by a wide range of think-tanks, practitioners, governments and NGOs. It included key note speeches from India’s minister for external affairs, MJ Akbar, and the UK's minister of state for countering extremism, Baroness Williams.