National Workshop on Countering Incitement and Violent Extremism in Kenya

A three-day workshop concluded on 9 May 2014 at the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) that was devoted to the development of an effective and comprehensive strategy in Kenya to counter-terrorism and violent extremism. The workshop, co-organised by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and ICCT, with the assistance of the Human Security Collective (HSC), brought together representatives of the Kenyan government’s security agencies, national civil society and faith-based organisations, and international experts. The event was aimed in part at promoting effective implementation of Security Council Resolution 1624 (2005). It was opened on Wednesday 7th of May by the Under Secretary-Security of the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of the Government of Kenya.

Workshop Goals & Activities

The workshop concluded with the commitment of all present to pursue an action-oriented plan to reduce the threat of violent extremism and terrorism in Kenya. It was agreed that such a plan required full cooperation and partnership between the Government and civil society. Participants noted the already-existing mechanisms for communication and coordination between these stakeholders to work in partnership, but highlighted that there is an urgent need to strengthen these mechanisms.

Participants agreed that it was essential to organise a follow-up consultative meeting to discuss the agenda and need for a task force to ensure regular engagement in the months ahead in order to keep momentum. Participants requested that the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), as the current secretariat of the recently-adopted Accountability and Advocacy Charter on Countering Violent Extremism in Kenya, take the lead in organising the follow-up meeting. Participants also called upon the donor community to consider making available financial resources and to coordinate the funding of long-term projects targeted at countering violent extremism. Participants also called on the international community to exchange experiences and coordinate the initiatives that are developed.

“Kenya has the good fortune to have a dynamic civil-society sector that is committed to countering and resisting the efforts of those engaged in terrorism and violent extremism. It is essential, however, that any strategy to counter terrorism be anchored in mutual respect and trust between the Government and civil society. We are here to support both sectors in their efforts to come up with a comprehensive strategy to defeat the wave of terrorism that is victimising Kenya today,” said Peter Knoope, Director of the ICCT.

The workshop considered several topics that were found to be essential to a successful counter-terrorism and counter-incitement strategy. These included reinforced commitment to peace education and promotion of inter-cultural understanding; effective rehabilitation programs at community level to enable youth who had been co-opted by extremist groups to return to their homes; positive messaging in the media and social networks to counter the terrorist message; strong commitment to human rights, rule of law and non-discrimination in counter-terrorism practices; and development of a national counter-extremism strategy that enjoyed the support of all sectors of society. Special programs needed to be targeted to youth organisations and women groups, in order to create a critical mass to oppose incitement to terrorism.

“The United Nations has declared that terrorism will not be defeated by military force, law enforcement measures, and intelligence operations alone,” said Mr. Weixiong Chen, Deputy Executive Director of CTED, based in New York. “Instead, a comprehensive approach that is based on trust and cooperation between the government and the communities it serves is the best way forward to succeed in this field.”

Workshop Report

You can find the workshop report here.

Additional Information

You read more about our work on countering incitement and violent extremism here.