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Screen shot of participants in the CVE webinar

Commonwealth launches webinar series to counter violent extremism

22 June 2020

A webinar series has been launched by the Commonwealth Secretariat to help counter violent extremism and hate speech online.

Fighting violent extremism

The series, launched by the Secretariat’s Countering Violent Extremism unit, explores the role online communication, social media and cyber security can play in both enabling and fighting violent extremism.

The webinar was attended by peace activists and CVE experts from across the Commonwealth.

The session discussed how to use social media for social change; utilise online communication for social action, and how applying good cyber security can help us more safely combat hate speech and violent extremism online.

Staying connected during COVID-19

The CVE unit’s deputy head, Anna Sherburn, said: "With the onset of the COVID-19 virus we are seeing an unprecedented movement towards the Internet and the virtual as a way of staying connected, learning and carrying out events.

"In many ways this has been hugely beneficial in driving up accessibility and demonstrating that life can go on, albeit virtually.

"But with possibility also comes risk, and now would be the perfect time to consider the salient relationship between violent extremism and the Internet: how it enables violent extremism; but how it can also be a tool to combat it."

Building the capacity of young people

The series is part of the Commonwealth's continuing efforts to build the capacity of young people to facilitate and lead campaigns for social change within their communities and to promote:

  • peacebuilding
  • social cohesion
  • technological understanding

Jesline Simubala, from Lennard Lane Partners and the Visionary Students Initiative Zambia urged young people to use the internet for good, as they are the age group most at risk from malign influences online.

Prithvi Iyer, a participant from India’s Observer Research Foundation said: “The webinar helped me situate my localised observations on CVE in a broader context.

“It highlighted the subjective nature of reporting hate and how cultural outlook may shape it.

“The webinar reiterated a global commitment to CVE in times where inward looking protectionism has forged negativity about cooperation and I am really grateful to have been part of this dialogue.”