Global incidents of conflict, terrorism and violent crime are all rising, some quite significantly. Yet understanding and responding to the drivers of this insecurity is becoming increasingly challenging, whether in relation to insurgencies, violence related to ideology or a return to inter-state conflict. The impact is felt in the form of chronic humanitarian needs, unprecedented migration flows and growing inequality, which can in turn exacerbate the root causes and drivers of insecurity.
Violent extremism is a global problem, which can manifest itself in all places, amidst all cultures and ideologies, but with different, localised characteristics. Recruiters work by pointing to social, political and economic injustices and playing on the grievances, real or perceived, of their followers.
The challenge for policymakers has arguably never been greater; the international community needs to bring all its tools to the table both to resolve ongoing crises and to prevent their reoccurrence. The European Union (EU), with its member states, is the world’s largest development actor, with a comprehensive global reach and a range of instruments to allow it to engage on continental, regional and national levels. These cover a range of different approaches, from long-term preventive engagements on trade, infrastructure and development-orientated service delivery, to short-term stabilisation, targeted humanitarian relief and recovery measures.
Terms associated with terrorism, including violent extremism and radicalisation are complex and controversial because of their political implications. What constitutes a terrorist offence has developed over time. A recent definition, provided by the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism, is: attacks against a person’s life, as intentional acts that can qualify as terrorist offences when and insofar as committed with a specific terrorist aim, namely to seriously intimidate a population, to unduly compel a government or an international organisation to perform or abstain from performing any act, or to seriously destabilise or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organisation.
Over the last decade, the European Commission has invested heavily in combating this threat by addressing conditions conducive to violent extremism, building capacity to reinforce the rule of law, promote development and strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities. This brochure (2019) highlights projects funded or supported by the European Commission worldwide that contribute to this effort.