Author: Lena Slachmuijlder
Full Citation: Slachmuijlder, L. (2017). Transforming violent extremism: A peacebuilder’s guide, 1st ed. Washington DC: Search for Common Ground.
Overview: Understanding the root causes behind the support of violent extremist movements is critical to designing responses. Much like a peacebuilder’s need for a conflict analysis, it is important to understand what tools and frameworks are most relevant to understanding the drivers and root causes of violent extremism. In some cases, these frameworks are very similar to the tools that peacebuilders have used to understand dividers and connectors, social cohesion, or resilience. And similar to peacebuilding, the factors contributing to an individual or a group deciding to join or support a violent extremist movement are firstly local, making the profiling of potential recruits nearly impossible from one context to the next. This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive list of factors that influence violent extremism; instead, we offer a set of questions and frameworks that may be useful in understanding extremism. By unpacking the drivers of violent extremism, we have the opportunity to enable those who are moving into violent extremism to be pulled back into safety, dignity, and respect within their communities. Through an appreciative inquiry process, we asked ourselves what we have learned from our years of work in transforming violent conflict and responding to violent extremism. This guide captures those insights and offers guiding principles for peacebuilders and on-the-ground practitioners as they navigate this important yet high-risk area of work around violent extremism.