Experts and Researchers Examine The Future of Counter Violent Extremism in The Covid-19 Era and Other Emerging Threats at The International CVE Research Conference 2022

GRANADA, May 26, 2022 – In response to ever-evolving violent extremist and terrorist threats, the Government of Spain in cooperation with Hedayah, the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) held the Seventh Annual International CVE Research Conference in Granada, Spain during 23-25 May 2022.   Over a hundred researchers, government officials, academics, and development experts from around the world convened for the Conference.

Hedayah Executive Director H.E. Ahmed AlQasimi highlighted,

“The nature of terrorism and extremism is highly versatile and adaptive. Our current approaches in countering violent extremism are not enough to address future challenges that can affect various members of society, most importantly youth and women. We can address these challenges through different platforms, new technology and other innovative means.”

With the increasing borderless movement of violent extremist ideologies online, research showed that gendered discourses are used by radical right actors to radicalize and mobilize others for their cause. This shows the need for policymakers and practitioners to better understand the phenomena to develop effective and ethical intervention.

“This Conference aims to guide the international community around the latest threats and existing challenges, while presenting innovative ways and recommendations to deal with them in a proactive manner. Terrorism and extremism are not only limited to religious motivations, but are also dominated by social, educational and developmental influences. This requires our collective efforts to create strong societies to address this grave issue,” H.E. AlQasimi adds.

Top researchers also shared their findings around the implications of COVID-19 on radicalization and recruitment efforts and the impact of extreme positions on climate change among other topics.

With the UAE soon to host COP28, the UAE Minister, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the U.N. H.E. Lana Nusseibeh stressed during her opening remarks at the Conference that

“the UAE considers [the relationship between climate change and violent extremism] an emerging threat to international peace and security that exacerbates pre-existing challenges such as conflict and displacement and requires the international community to equip itself for a more robust response”.

In recognition of the significance of the International CVE Research Conference, an official from the Government of Spain expressed that they had sought to host this Conference because addressing the threats posed by terrorism is one of the most important national priorities. They also support Hedayah in the implementation of various CVE projects globally.

During her opening remarks, Bahrain’s Chief of Strategic Affairs H.E. Ambassador Nancy Jamal notes,

“To home in on regional perspectives, Hedayah has managed over the years to combine perceptions from East and West, to build resilience where it is needed. Such a mandate that has succeeded in engaging the intellectual voices of the region within the scope of global peace, prosperity and stability is one we wholeheartedly encourage.”

H.E. AlQasimi also announced the launch of two key Hedayah initiatives during his remarks. The first is a web platform that present global trends on violent extremism, terrorism, and the pandemic. This project was funded by the UAE. The second is a research project on “Countering Extremism and Violent Extremism in the Middle East and North Africa”, which showcases the MENA countries’ efforts, experiences and best practices in addressing violent extremism over recent years. The participating countries shared their successful experiences with the international community and provided Hedayah with its most prominent efforts and practices in this regard. H.E. AlQasimi also noted that the participating countries have had a longstanding cooperation with Hedayah through previous programs.

Other key research findings presented at the Conference showed that the pandemic produced a hybridized threat to public safety between conspiracy movements and extremism. This requires a new generation of approaches beyond existing counter violent extremism paradigms. Researchers at the Conference also showed the positive effects of sports intervention to prevent radicalization and the role of video games and new technologies in recruitment.

Finally, the Conference was co-hosted with the Euro-Arab Foundation, the European Institute for Counter Terrorism and Conflict Prevention, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, Moonshot, United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the University of Granada along with the strategic partnership of the Royal United Services Institute, the Cyber Threats Research Centre at Swansea University and Tech against Terrorism.

About Hedayah

Hedayah is the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism. The organization works towards building a world without violent extremism through evidence-based and innovative programs, strategic communications and world-class research.

Hedayah was created in response to a growing desire from the international community and members of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF), representing 29 countries and the European Union, to establish an independent, multilateral ‘think and do’ tank devoted to countering violent extremism. The organization is dedicated to technical excellence and delivers groundbreaking research, innovative methodologies and programs across 48 countries. It delivers real and sustainable impact to governments, civil society and people impacted by extremism by prioritizing local ownership.