Community Cohesion Projects to Prevent Violent Extremism
This review looks at the use of community cohesion projects to prevent or counter violent extremism (P/CVE). It finds that such initiatives can be helpful in conflict-affected societies, but there are limited evaluations in the literature, and these generally do not make a direct causal link between interventions to promote social (community) cohesion and P/CVE. The retreat of Daesh from territories under its control, notably in Iraq and Syria, has created a massive challenge of bringing about integration between divided communities, notably populations seen as having collaborated with the group, former combatants, and those who suffered persecution or were displaced because of Daesh. Failure to bring about social cohesion carries the real risk of renewed extremism, violence and conflict. Social cohesion can help prevent/counter violent extremism (P/CVE) by building relationships and reducing the marginalisation that is a potential driver of extremism. The review identified a diverse range of projects being carried out to promote social cohesion in conflict-affected regions, notably those formerly controlled by Daesh. Projects in Iraq include: brokering of reconciliation agreements between different communities to reduce violence; support to local civil society organisations to conduct local dialogues on divisions and how to overcome them; establishment of youth centres open to all communities, and collective community development projects. However, as noted above, few evaluation documents for such projects were found, and the literature generally failed to establish a causal link between community cohesion interventions and P/CVE.