CVE Strategy in Somalia: the importance of context, coordination and ownership

Violent extremism is at the top of the global agenda today. In 2017, the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, made his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia. On 21st May 2017, the President Trump met leaders from more than 50 nations at the Arab Islamic American Summit to discuss ways to cooperate against the threat of global terrorism and violent extremism. During the visit, the Global Counter Extremism Centre was inaugurated in Riyadh.[1]

Since the 9/11 attacks, various Counter Violence Extremism (CVE) related initiatives have been undertaken at both global and national level. The earliest practical CVE strategy was the United Kingdom’s Prevent programme[2], while the 2016 “UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism” is the most comprehensive global initiative. Regionally, in the Horn of Africa, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has also formulated a CVE strategy for the region and a Centre of Excellence. Within the Horn of Africa, Somalia, given its unique and intractable political and security challenges, is expected to have a special focus and context specific CVE strategy.

As the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), with the support of its international partners, moves towards developing and implementing a comprehensive CVE strategy and program, it is imperative to review the context for a successful strategy and outcome. While there is a dearth of robust outcome studies to identify which interventions are most effective at preventing violent extremism, there is sufficient empirical evidence to start learning and understanding about the effective practices in general activities and how specific interventions can be useful in targeted groups and areas. The purpose of this article is to review the context and key actors, highlight the opportunities for effective CVE in Somalia, and given the delicate nature of the subject, avoid the pitfalls.

Countering Violent Extremism through Social Capital: Anecdote from Jimma, Ethiopia

The idea underpinning Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is that violence should not be dealt exclusively with reactive means. Instead, structural causes of extremism such as intolerance, social marginalisation, and economic inequality must all be tackled to prevent transnational violence, regional instability and community tensions. The CVE framework discussed in this paper focuses on the role of social capital in augmenting community resilience derived from people’s interactions in Jimma, Southwestern Ethiopia. It explains the nexus between social capital and conflict, and examines the roles of social capital and grassroots community dialogue in Jimma during the inter-religious conflicts that erupted since 2006 and continued through 2011. In addition to the damage to property, the violence led to a marked erosion of the social capital fabric of the society as manifested in the erosion of cultural practices such as common greetings, exchanging of household commodities and observing each other’s religious holidays. There was a deterioration of social capital that intensified until respected Muslim and Christian religious figures got involved to rebuild a peaceful co-existence between these communities. The establishment of the Religious Forum for Peace in 2011, as an outcome of longtime friendship between these religious figures was the epitome of the survival of the inter-religious social capital in Jimma. This Forum is now making unreserved efforts in promoting cultural practices and other social activities to promote positive interactions between followers of Islam and Christianity and thereby promoting peace and security in Jimma and Ethiopia at large.

Review article: Community Perceptions of Violent Extremism in Kenya

The “lack of definitional consensus [on violent extremism] often stems from a scarcity of empirical evidence on the assumed root causes and drivers of violent extremism”. Indeed, locally-informed empirical research on violent extremism remains thin, although violent extremism is increasingly put as a priority on the decision-makers’ agenda at the national, regional and international levels, and has become a focus of peacebuilding programming in the Horn of Africa under the emerging Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) approach.

Ambiguities of CVE Theory & Practice

Context Over the past two decades, so-called ‘violent extremism’ is supposed to have assumed an expanding presence and emerged as a critical threat to states and societies…


This report is based on a collaboration between the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, Georgetown University in Washington DC, in consultation with…