Efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism have increasingly sought to engage youth, communities, and marginalized groups, including women, with the intent to address some of the underlying grievances and conditions that can create an enabling environment for extremist groups to generate support and recruits. Sports, arts, and culture offer much-underutilized platforms to address some of these conditions and help develop resonant and effective counternarratives to reflect local and regional dynamics. As the 2015 U.S. National Security Strategy notes, in the long term, such efforts “will be more important than our capacity to remove terrorists from the battlefield.”

This brief explores the history of cultural diplomacy and use of sports in conflict situations; examines relevant lessons learned and good practices that can inform the integration of sports, arts, and culture into countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts; and offers practical recommendations for policymakers and practitioners in the CVE field. The brief draws on desk research, discussions with practitioners and policymakers, and discussions at a workshop on the topic co-hosted by the Global Center and Hedayah in May 2014.

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