Global Center 2022 Roundtable Series

In 2022, the Global Center is continuing its thematic roundtable series, which promotes interactive, informal discussions on substantive issues and new developments relating to violent extremism, terrorism, and counterterrorism with guest speakers representing the United Nations, national governments, civil society, and the private sector. These roundtables are part of the Global Center’s work on promoting and protecting human rights, safeguarding civic space, and advancing rule-of-law based approaches to countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism. In addition to the events below, the Global Center also hosted a roundtable in March 2022 on the implications of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. More information about this roundtable is available here.

Should you have any questions regarding the roundtable series, please contact Ms. Franziska Praxl-Tabuchi at

14 December 2022: Using Transitional Justice Approaches in Complex Conflict Settings Involving Terrorist Groups: The Iraqi Example
The Global Center, in partnership with the International Peace Institute (IPI), hosted a virtual discussion on using transitional justice approaches in complex conflict settings involving terrorist group, focusing on examples from the Iraqi context. This virtual roundtable brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, including UN representatives, member-states, and civil society experts. The key objectives of this roundtable included: 1) exploring a “One-UN” approach to sustaining peace in contexts where armed groups designated as “terrorist” operate; 2) enhancing a community-based and victim-centered approach to justice and reconciliation efforts in Iraq; and 3) informing the development of the Secretary-General’s note on transitional justice. Participants highlighted the way transitional justice approaches could offer new opportunities that would strike a balance between the demand for justice and accountability on the one hand, and reintegration and reconciliation on the other. During the first session, UNITAD presented on the ongoing justice and reconciliation efforts in Iraq highlighting the challenges and gaps of existing prosecutorial mechanisms at the national level and the impacts on a long-term peace. A civil society representative from Iraq shared concrete examples of reintegration processes of Iraqi foreign fighters and their families at the national and local level. The intervention highlighted the lack of involvement of civil society actors, affected communities and victims in the justice and reconciliation efforts. The second session focused on the role of the UN in supporting a community-based, victim-centered, and rights-based approach to justice and reconciliation in Iraq. Interventions highlighted the opportunities that transitional justice could create for improving accountability and access to justice to victims, contrasting examples from Iraq with experiences from Columbia and other regions.

28 June 2022: Applying a Transitional Justice Approach in Terrorism-Related Contexts to Ensure Sustainable Peace
The Global Center, in partnership with IPI, hosted a virtual discussion on applying a transitional justice approach in terrorism-related contexts to ensure sustainable peace. Panelists highlighted challenges, successes, and possible opportunities of transitional justice approaches in counterterrorism efforts through concrete examples and case studies focusing especially on Iraq and Syria and the Lake Chad Basin. The panel took stock of the current discussions at the international, regional, and national level, highlighting the overarching objectives of transitional justice vis-à-vis counterterrorism measures in conflict, post conflict and peaceful settings. Panelists shared their reflections and highlighted avenues to explore as part of broader reconciliation and reintegration efforts to complement judicial approaches to promote community recognition, acceptance and reduce the chances of stigmatization of people formerly associated with terrorist groups.  They also addressed the challenges of using transitional justice tools including concerns around the potential “mission-creep” of counterterrorism into peacebuilding and the prioritization of terrorism-related offenses over other offenses in the transitional justice process. IPI highlighted their recent report on the risks former combatants face during the reintegration process and how designating an armed group as a terrorist organization can impact these risks. The recording of the event can be found here.
Featured Speakers: Ms. Marsin Alshamary (Harvard Kennedy School), Mr. Roger Duthie (International Center for Transitional Justice), Dr. Siobhan O’Neil (United Nations University), Mara Revkin (Duke University), Professor Issa Saibou (University of Maroua)

03 March 2022: Launch of the 2022 Global Terrorism Index
In its first roundtable of 2022, the Global Center co-organized the launch of the 2022 Global Terrorism Index together with the Institute for Economics & Peace, the United States Institute of Peace, and the RESOLVE Network, in collaboration with the Global Research Network of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED). The report’s key findings, including an increase in terrorist attacks and terrorism-related deaths in the Sahel and an increase in politically-motivated terrorism in the West, informed the discussion. Panelists and participants also discussed the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on terrorism, and the potential impacts of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Please find the recording of the launch here. Recordings from previous Global Terrorism Index events can be found here.
Featured speakers: Mr. Steve Killelea (Institute for Economics and Peace), Ms. Farah Kasim (CTED), Mr. Alastair Reed (United States Institute of Peace and RESOLVE Network)

Prisons around the world have seen an increase in individuals who are involved in violent extremism, presenting new challenges for authorities. In response, we work with several national prison services to develop human rights–based training programs to help staff identify violent extremist radicalization and recruitment in prisons and to support the management, rehabilitation, and reintegration of violent extremist prisoners.

This work began in 2017 in Morocco, where we trained the entirety of its prison system staff—approximately 9,000 individuals—across all prison facilities in the country. We also lead a unique program for all prison psychologists in Morocco, who can serve as critical agents in addressing the psychological risks and needs of violent extremist prisoners. Building on these successes, we have replicated the model in Indonesia, Kenya, and Trinidad and Tobago. Our program Kenya is underway to train all 30,000 prison staff around the country, delivered by Kenyan officers through a training-of-trainers framework designed to maximize institutional ownership and sustainability. In Indonesia, we implement a unique program for female prison officers managing violent extremist prisoners as well as an advanced training that has become the standard training program for prison staff posted to high security prisons. In Trinidad and Tobago, we supported the development of a national strategy to prevent violent extremism in prisons and designed and institutionalized a new curriculum for recruits.

In April 2022, Chania Lackey, Global Center Regional Programs Coordinator for Eastern Africa, addressed the Joint Open Briefing of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee on the issue of ISIL in Africa. Chania briefed the Security Council on the issues regarding the financing of ISIL-affiliated terrorist groups in Africa, especially through the trade of minerals and other extractives.

Drawing on the Global Center’s expertise in countering the financing of terrorism and our programming across the African continent, we have observed that ISIL cells and affiliates are largely self-financing, relying on both legal and illicit activities and using formal as well as informal channels to raise money. Notably, there are avenues for detection and disruption at each financing stage—raising, storing, and moving funds. However, doing so requires the private sector to be meaningfully and effectively engaged, a salient barrier in stemming terrorism financing in the region.

While the exploitation of oil and gas by ISIL has attracted significant attention over the last years, terrorist groups on the African context face significant barriers in obtaining the resources and honing the skills required to exploit oil or gas in territories where they are active. On the other hand, we have observed strategic exploits of precious metals and stones—in particular gold, which is present in at least 34 out of 54 African countries. Gold is attractive given its high and stable value, portability, and the cash intensive nature of the gold trade.

Artisanal gold mining has boomed since 2012, producing up to 2 billion US dollars’ worth annually. More recently, gold has drawn attention as a source of terrorism financing, with considerable activity reported in Central and West Africa. Gold poses particular vulnerabilities given the limited anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures and controls in place across the continent. As such, ISIL affiliates are able to extort artisanal miners, mine gold themselves, and refine, sell, or tax gold that is traded both legally and illegally.

Chania illustrated a theoretical trajectory of how ISIL might extract, transport, and sell gold. She identified key points in the process where authorities might disrupt the process, again emphasizing that such interventions require coordinated engagement by across the public and private sector.   In sum, ISIL’s self-financing model presents challenges to the existing CFT architecture, requiring collaboration from private sector entities on the frontlines of detecting and preventing terrorism financing.

In recent years, the growth of digital financial services, and more particularly mobile money, has been at the center of financial inclusion initiatives in various countries, notably in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Financial inclusion is featured as a prominent enabler of the Sustainable Development Goals, yet various constraints and barriers prevent eligible adults from accessing digital financial services. Policy and regulatory factors affect the environment in which these services are provided, practical barriers affect an individual’s ability to access and utilize digital financial services, and social and cultural factors affect the customer’s adoption and usage of and trust in digital financial services or its providers. This brief explores the barriers and constraints that hinder digital financial inclusion efforts in jurisdictions that have unbanked populations. It offers recommendations to policymakers and financial sector supervisors on adopting a risk-based approach that overcomes these challenges and enables expanded provision of mobile money and other digital financial services to realize financial inclusion objectives.

Through our work around the world, we witness how young people are primary targets of armed groups of all stripes. This is notably true for violent extremist networks, which tend to focus their recruitment on individuals between 15 and 30 years old. This is evident among al-Shabaab and Boko Haram in Kenya and Nigeria, respectively, which capitalize on young people’s sense of economic, social, and political marginalization and despair.

Young people also play pivotal roles as leaders for positive change. Both Kenya and Nigeria have a vibrant, youth-led civil society landscape, which has proven critical to building and sustaining resilient communities. Yet civil society—particularly youth people—working in communities impacted by violent extremism often struggle to secure and sustain the funding required to maintain long-term programming and establish formal organizations. Many civic and nonprofit leaders are not connected to regional or national communities of practice, much less international networks—hindering their ability to contribute to and capitalize on peer expertise and resource-sharing.

It is in this context that we recognized the opportunity to invest in the next generation of change-makers and peacebuilders in Nigeria and Kenya. With a focus on organizations in regions with high levels of violent extremist activity, we made a multi-year commitment to twenty grassroots violence prevention initiatives, including through the provision of small grants, capacity development, and networking and mentoring opportunities. Our partnership effectively equipped youth Nigerian and Kenyan leaders with the skills, networks, and resources to address community grievances, stand up localized communities of practice, and ultimately stem the growth of extremist violence.

Our capacity development and training programs draw heavily on train-the-trainer and other peer-to-peer models to help ensure ownership by participants as well as the sustainability of these programs after our role formally ends. These workshops included an innovative peer exchange: Kenyan facilitators traveled to Nigeria and Nigerian facilitators traveled to Kenya, with both leading workshops to share their insight into combatting the strategies and methods used by al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, ISIS, and al-Qaeda. The program presents a successful new model for grantmaking that foregrounds hyper-local community and youth engagement as requisites in preventing violent extremism. Further, the framework for pairing regions and countries on the basis of shared experiences is easily replicable.

Over the past decade, security actors in Kenya and the international community have increasingly viewed young people in Kenya’s Muslim communities as vectors for radicalization to violent extremism. A number of large scale economic development assistance programs in the country, even as they promote the intense free market entrepreneurialism that continues to leave the vast majority of Kenyans behind, are also increasingly taking on preventing violent extremism objectives. Against the backdrop of heightened international and domestic concerns over the vulnerability of Kenyan youth to violent extremism, this policy brief focuses on the hardships and priorities of youth in Kenya through the voices of young people themselves. Drawing on a series of focus group discussions conducted by the Kenya Community Support Centre in September 2018, the paper explores the daily challenges confronting young people in Mombasa County as they struggle to make ends meet in the face of joblessness, wage theft, nepotism, and political corruption. While the serious threat posed by al-Shabaab cannot be ignored, the paper argues that the overriding drive to prevent violent extremism among Kenyan youth, especially in Muslim and Somali communities, is not only disproportionate but also counterproductive, threatening to overshadow the overwhelming need for economic justice, governance accountability, and reform.

In 2018, the Global Center marked its sixth year of partnership with the Ethiopian Financial Intelligence Center (EFIC), Federal Attorney General (AG), and other stakeholders under two phases of technical assistance programming supported by the government of Denmark.

Ethiopia has made substantial progress in strengthening its anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime. The Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group recognized this progress in November 2018 when it increased Ethiopia’s compliance rating on nine Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations. Further, Ethiopia has demonstrated its ability to effectively utilize AML/CFT frameworks to detect and investigate financial crimes, as evidenced by the high profile arrests of intelligence, military, and business officials over alleged corruption and human rights abuses in November 2018.

The Global Center has been honored to support Ethiopia in these efforts and commends the EFIC, AG, and all its partners on their achievements. Key highlights from the second phase of programming (2016-2018) include:

Trainings and Capacity Development: In collaboration with the EFIC and AG, the Global Center facilitated 27 trainings for 624 participants representing 51 different institutions, organizations, and businesses in Ethiopia from 2016-2018. These efforts have contributed to the capacity development of individuals and institutions and fostered stronger relationships and information sharing pathways between institutions.

National Risk Assessment: Ethiopia finalized its national risk assessment in 2016, a critical element of compliance with the FATF standards. The findings of the national risk assessment are instrumental in advancing Ethiopia’s risk-based approach (RBA) to AML/CFT and to deepening the understanding of Ethiopia’s unique threat and vulnerability profile. Building off this process, the EFIC is leading a sectoral risk assessment for non-profit institutions and real estate as identified areas of higher risk.

Risk-Based Approach to Supervision: To advance effective compliance procedures in line with the findings of the national risk assessment, the Global Center supported the EFIC in establishing an intra-agency drafting committee to develop policy guidance on implementing a RBA to supervision. The EFIC collaborated with the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) to develop a manual on RBA supervision for financial institutions, and with other regulatory authorities to develop a similar manual for RBA supervision for designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs). To date, the EFIC and NBE have conducted joint on-site inspections of six financial institutions and are prioritizing supervisory mechanisms among identified risk-risk DNFBPs.

AML/CFT Manual and Practitioner’s Guide for Investigators and Prosecutors: In order to facilitate sustainable institutional development, a committee of local experts collaborated with the Global Center to draft an AML/CFT manual for investigators and prosecutors in an Ethiopian context. The manual provides an overview of international and domestic legal frameworks for AML/CFT, including an overview of the relevant actors, compliance obligations and processes, and sources of information that may be useful in conducting money laundering and terrorist financing investigations and prosecutions. The manual is augmented by a practitioner’s guide that offers practical guidance for conducting financial crime investigations in line with Ethiopian legal frameworks.

Three Multi-Course Training Programs on Effective Financial Crime Investigations and Prosecutions: One of the key areas highlighted in Ethiopia’s mutual evaluation and subsequent follow-up reports has been low levels of technical capacity among investigators and prosecutors pursuant to AML/CFT and financial crime investigations. Many provisions of Ethiopia’s AML/CFT law have yet to be tested in court, resulting in variances in interpretation and application. To address these challenges, the project supported three multi-training certification programs on effective financial crime investigations and prosecutions for over 110 representatives from the AG, Ethiopian Police University College (EPUC), Federal Police, Addis Ababa Police Commission, Regional Police Commissions, and Federal Investigation Bureau. Graduates of this program have been engaged by the AG in facilitating local trainings at the sub-city level, with EPUC graduates implementing an AML/CFT module into the training curriculum.

Regional Training Series on AML/CFT: In order to deepen capacities outside of the capital, a series of regional trainings were facilitated for police, investigators, and prosecutors in each of Ethiopia’s nine regions. Demonstrating its strong institutional capacity and role as experts on AML/CFT issues, trainings were led by EFIC and AG staff with the support of the Global Center consultant Mr. Biniam Shiferaw Ayalew. Trainings were conducted in Bahir Dar (Amhara region), Adama (Oromia region), Hawassa (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ region), Jijiga (Somali region), Mekelle (Tigray region), Semera (Afar region), Gambela (Gambela region), Assosa (Benishangul region), and Hara (Harai region), as well as in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa for over 300 participants.

Asset Freezing and Non-Proliferation Legislation: Building upon prior trainings and gap analysis, the AG established an intra-agency committee to conduct research and draft new legislation related to the financing of weapons of mass destruction as well as legislation and procedures to strengthen asset freezing, confiscation, and management. Draft legislation on proliferation financing is awaiting approval from Parliament, and will address the final major technical gap identified by the FATF during Ethiopia’s mutual evaluation.

For more information about this program, please contact Ms. Tracey Durner at

As governments consider effective responses to violent extremism, they must also decide how best to deal with those who have committed acts of violent extremism, particularly with regard to their rehabilitation and reintegration. Though it is their mandate, governments cannot undertake the rehabilitation and reintegration challenge alone. Civil society organizations can be well-placed to assist with or lead on various components and should be involved in planning and implementation. This action agenda builds on a 30 month project funded by the U.S. Department of State to explore the role of civil society organizations in rehabilitation and reintegration in three broad regions: the Sahel, the Greater Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia. The action agenda offers guiding principles, recommendations, and examples to help stakeholders shape rehabilitation and reintegration practices and better incorporate the experiences and knowledge of civil society organizations.

Violent extremism is a key issue on the regional security agenda in East Africa. However, our review of the relevant literature, complemented by original primary research, suggests that the evidentiary baseline regarding violent extremism in East Africa is modest. The existing literature focuses largely on Somalia and Kenya and serves to underscore that mobilization to extremist violence in the region is diverse. These findings have important implications for development actors seeking to advance “countering violent extremism” (or sometimes “preventing violent extremism”) measures in East Africa. Those measures should be variegated across the states in the region. More generally, development actors seeking to advance countering violent extremism measures in East Africa or elsewhere should ensure that their approaches are evidence-based, responsive to the problems they are designed to address, proportional in light of existing development and security priorities, and effective.

The research for this article was conducted as part of the Global Center’s program to produce a rigorous literature review of drivers of radicalization and extremism in Eastern Africa under the East Africa Research Fund of the UK Department for International Development.

This article was published in African Security Volume 11, Issue 2 (2018) pp. 160-180.

Multilateral development actors have recently embraced the ‘PVE’ (preventing violent extremism) agenda. This includes consideration of PVE measures in countries like Uganda, where interpretations of non-state violence are contested and where the government has a history of strategic rent-seeking behavior regarding counter-terrorism assistance. This article assesses the threat of terrorism and violent extremism in Uganda. We argue against a strategic reorientation towards PVE among development actors. Current and emerging threats do not justify a departure from existing development priorities. Importantly, consideration of the political context pertaining to PVE in Uganda commends a cautious approach.

The research for this article was conducted as part of the Global Center’s program to produce a rigorous literature review of drivers of radicalization and extremism in Eastern Africa under the East Africa Research Fund of the UK Department for International Development.

This article was published in Conflict, Security & Development Volume 18, Issues 2 (2018) pp. 159-179.