The Research and Action for Peace (REcAP) Network Consortium organised a regional conference, on “Unifying for Stability: Addressing Violent Extremism amidst Political Uncertainties in West Africa and the Lake Chad Basin,” from the 5th to the 6th of December 2023 in Accra. The Civic Academy for Africa’s Future (CiAAF) contributed to the conference through its représentative, Estelle Djanato.

In light of the mounting political and security challenges in West Africa and the Lake Chad Basin, a conference was recently held with the primary objective of convening experts, policymakers, and international and regional actors to collectively address the growing threat of violent extremism in the region.

Discussions centred on the need for a unified response to the threat of Violent Extremism (VE) in the  aforementioned areas.

Expert panels were convened to examine the factors exacerbating violent extremism and its impacts on the region. A lack of governance and coordination, socioeconomic challenges, and over-reliance on kinetic approaches were identified as key drivers of VE. Geopolitical factors, such as the activities of external groups and strained international relationships, were identified as aggravating factors.

A comprehensive discussion on mapping regional mechanisms revealed existing initiatives such as the Multinational Joint Task Force, states’ responses, and regional responses. Challenges like overlapping security services, donor funding dependence, and a lack of proper coordination were also acknowledged.

The sessions emphasised the importance of non-kinetic approaches and development-oriented solutions, to effectively address the situation. Overall, the conference served as a critical platform for stakeholders to engage in a constructive dialogue and explore viable solutions to address the growing threat of VE in the region.

Preventing and countering VE

The proposed panels have put forth a series of preventive measures aimed at tackling the phenomenon.  These measures include addressing critical aspcets such as governance, economic development, public awareness, domestic and international cooperation, social integration, and inter-faith dialogue. Institutional representatives shared their experiences on existing mechanisms to counter violent extremism and highlighted the need for proactive state responses, community engagement, political commitment, and development of border areas. Overall, the discussions emphasised the importance of a comprehensive and collaborative approach in addressing this complex issue.

Group work and policy recommendations

The conference participants actively participated in group work sessions that aimed to develop policy recommendations for various stakeholders, including international, regional, national entities, CSOs, and community-level authorities. The sessions focused on brainstorming innovative approaches to address the challenges posed by armed conflict, climate change, and resource management. Additionally, experts provided insightful recommendations for countering violent extremism in Cote d’Ivoire and Benin.

Key recommendations included the need to bridge the gap between community-level leaders and their citizens since they are the most affected. This could be achieved through the active involvement of women at every stage of countering violent extremism processes and by engaging all stakeholders at the community level. Furthermore, experts emphasized the importance of designing development projects at the community level to increase state presence and promote inclusivity and sustainability.

Overall, the conference provided an opportunity for experts to share their research findings and best practices in countering violent extremism. The recommendations developed during the group work sessions and presented by the experts have the potential to guide policy decisions and support the implementation of sustainable solutions in the concerned communities.


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