Civil society organizations represent a bulwark against violent extremism. Within South and Central Asia, a vibrant and independent civil society has been working to tackle many of the ongoing development, political, and socioeconomic challenges that often give rise to an environment conducive to violent extremism. Civil society’s role in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) will become even more critical as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant continues to lose territory in Iraq and Syria.
Civil society organizations across South and Central Asia, many of which focus on development, conflict prevention, peace-building, and human rights, have leveraged their experience in these areas to develop innovative P/CVE programs targeting a broad spectrum of issues confronting their communities. These initiatives include producing educational entertainment that challenges extremist narratives, improving relationships between communities and local government, and promoting research and understanding to better recognize local factors contributing to the spread of violent radicalization.
To help advance these efforts, the Global Center with support from the U.S. Department of State, undertook a two-year program to support civil society organizations in South and Central Asia in the development of contextually tailored and locally relevant responses to violent extremism. This report highlights the initiatives undertaken by these organizations and captures the key lessons, good practices, and insights gained throughout the program. It concludes with key recommendations for policymakers, practitioners, and donors to consider as they look to initiate or increase support for P/CVE initiatives in South and Central Asia.