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Pedralbes Meeting on Preventing Violent Extremism Important Step Forward for Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation

ARDD

On 27 June 2018, ARDD attended a "Multi-Stakeholder seminar on Preventing Violent Extremism in the Euro-Med Region" at the Palacio de Pedralbes in Barcelona, hosted by the Union for the Mediterranean.  The goals of the seminar focused on sharing the primary lessons from adopting National Action Plans (NAPs) for preventing violent extremism (PVE) in the Euro-Mediterranean region as well as progress made, how to use the current body of research on PVE and to understand related programming and initiatives, and to make recommendations for the NAPs in terms of comprehensive approaches.

Panel topics involved discussing implementing PVE frameworks and bringing in civil society organizations (CSOs) and think tanks as stakeholders.  The Observatory to Prevent Extremist Violence (Observatoire pour la Prévention de l'Extrémisme Violent, or OPEV) was represented by panelists from its Spanish and Tunisian branches, and ARDD is a founding member of its Jordanian branch.

ARDD was excited at the chance to help found the Jordanian chapter of OPEV because ARDD understands how crucial it is to raise an aware and engaged generation of youth in promoting the idea of a second Arab Renaissance.  The first Arab Renaissance from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries helped spur an era of intellectual development, political reform, and civic engagement on the part of the people.  ARDD seeks to economically, socially, and legally empower vulnerable members of Arab societies regardless of religion, ethnicity, or country of origin, and helping shape a generation of young people to subscribe to this ideology and to be willing to work towards these shared goals is integral to ARDD”s vision of the future.  Equally as important to this vision and to empowering youth is preventing violent extremism (PVE) that threatens to undermine every one of our values, and, since violent extremism often ensnares youth, empowering youth and PVE go hand-in-hand.  As such, ARDD has recently expanded its programming into Tunisia and Lebanon in this spirit, seeking to reach youth in both nations.

It was in January, 2017, during a seminal meeting in Barcelona, that OPEV was established, after the issuing of the Barcelona Declaration, in which ARDD, OPEV, and many other civil society organizations (CSOs) from the Euro-Mediterranean region formulated and laid out in detail their vision for combating and preventing violent extremism (CPVE) embraced by ARDD, OPEV, and their partners.  The conference that produced the Declaration was co-organized by NOVACT (International Institute for Nonviolent Action) and the CMODH (Coordination Maghrébine des Organisations des Droits Humains).

The Barcelona Declaration explained that the “conditions and the structural context conducive to violent extremism” included “lack of socioeconomic opportunities, marginalization and discriminate, political terror, violations of human rights and the rule of law, prolonged and unresolved conflicts, and indoctrination in prisons.”

It further described a unified action plan that the signatories pledged to implement to address violent extremism in the Euro-Mediterranean region, one consisting of 10 main goals as listed below, emphasizing that “ALL” types of violent extremism be addressed, education, resilience, a responsibility to protect, the preservation of rights amid legal reforms pertaining to terrorism, gender, youth, democracy, civil society, alternative narratives, and establishing NAPs and OPEV.

The “ALL” in the first goal is important because it expands the focus to include domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and violence against women and girls (VAWG) in addition to the more commonly discussed issue of terrorism.

As part of this effort to coordinate action, the Union for the Mediterranean helped organize the aforementioned seminar to help move the Barcelona agenda forward, a summit that included ARDD, OPEV, and other leading organizations committed to addressing violent extremism in the Mediterranean region.  The meeting was a key step forward in bringing together experts from many CSOs, NGOs, and institutions in order to have an integrated Mediterranean-wide approach to combating and preventing violent extremism (CPVE).

After the seminar on the first day, the next two days focused on closed-door meetings to develop specific strategies for the local, national, regional, and international levels in ways that would strengthen participants’ joint work and solidify their mandate.

While the post-Barcelona Declaration movement is still in its formative stages, more and more progress and details can be expected in the future. But what happened at the Palacio de Pedralbes represents a major step forward and the ongoing commitment of these many different organizations to being the whole of the Mediterranean together in working against extremist violence through a common framework. 

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