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Engaging Civil Society in Rehabilitation

(Pour le synopsis en français cliquez ici)

Promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders (VEOs) is a critical component of addressing the full lifecycle of violent extremist radicalisation and recruitment. Amid growing numbers of returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and the active prosecution of suspected terrorists in general, the need to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of VEOs to optimise the chance that societies accept reintegratees and minimise the risk of recidivism has gained further significance and international traction. Such rehabilitation and reinterring efforts not only concern those associated with, but also those affected by violent extremism, for example victims, families and communities.

In recognition of the invaluable contributions that civil society organisations (CSOs) and community actors offer to programs aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE), as reinforced in the UN Secretary-General’s “Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism” of December 2015, it is vital that government agencies, international organisations and frontline practitioners engage these stakeholders in effective rehabilitation and reintegration efforts. Non-governmental organisations, actors at the community level (such as religious leaders, family members, social workers, victims organised in groups, students, teachers, etc.), the private sector, and the media can and should play key roles in different stages of the rehabilitation and reintegration process. Despite early efforts to include such actors into comprehensive and holistic rehabilitation and reintegration processes, the experience and capacity of such actors, as well as governments’ willingness to integrate this group of stakeholders, varies across and between different countries and regions.


Pilot Projects

July 1, 2017

A series of pilot activities across the three sub-regions were implemented with the aim of informing the action agenda in the early stages of the project, and further disseminating and implementing several of its recommendations in the later stages. Through the provision of small grants, a range of local organisations were supported to enhance their capacity and technical expertise in order to translate the recommendations into concrete actions. In total, 15 pilot projects were supported by this project: seven in the Sahel, two in the Greater Horn of Africa, and six in Southeast Asia.

Action Agenda

August 1, 2018

The two phases of the project cumulated in an agenda for action with recommendations for CSOs, governments, and international and donor organisations. The Action Agenda described the rehabilitation and reintegration landscape across the three geographic sub-regions, provides guiding principles and specific recommendations on involving CSOs in rehabilitation and reintegration efforts. Throughout the last section, specific case studies and examples gleaned from both the funding of pilot projects and the regional consultations are included to provide readers with concrete lessons learned.

The full Action Agenda is entitled: “It takes a Village: The Role of Civil Society in the Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremist Offenders and Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters”.

About this Project

(The full project synopsis is available on our website in English or in French)

This two-and-a-half year initiative was implemented between 2016 and 2018 by ICCT together with the Global Center on Cooperative Security and several sub-regional partners. The initiative aimed at strengthening the networks, capacity, and readiness of CSOs to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of those associated with or affected by terrorism. Funded by the US Department of State, the project focussed on three sub-regions: The Sahel-Maghreb, the Greater Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia.

The initiative consists of two core components: sub-regional processes and awarding of small grants for CSOs to pilot innovative ideas.

The first component focused on three concurrent sub-regional processes that brought together key government, law enforcement, and civil society stakeholders to:

  • Conduct national and sub-regional assessments of relevant existing policies, programs, and actors, as well as gaps and obstacles in relation to the role of civil society actors in the rehabilitation and reintegration of VEOs and returning FTFs; and
  • Develop an action agenda with concrete programming ideas and policy recommendations tailored to each sub-region, building on both local and international good practices including the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s “Rome Memorandum on Good Practices for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremist Offenders” and the work of its Detention and Reintegration Working Group.

Several workshops took place to (1.) network civil society organisations; (2.) increase knowledge as well as capacity to engage on rehabilitation and reintegration; and (3.) validate the policy and programmatic recommendations drafted by the project team following consultations. The first workshop took place in Lagos (Nigeria) in 2016, followed by a second workshop in Djibouti and a third one in Jakarta (Indonesia), both in 2017.

The consultation process and development of the action agenda was conducted concurrently to the second key component of this initiative: the awarding of pilot projects.