IMPACT Europe news digest [#10]

Welcome to the tenth instalment of the IMPACT Europe news digest. Through this series, the IMPACT Europe team will endeavour to present you with a selection of news, commentaries, journals articles and web materials relating to research and policy developments touching on the subject matters underpinning IMPACT Europe’s project’s mission. To receive the latest updates on IMPACT Europe’s research, dissemination and outreach activities you can follow our Twitter account (@impacteurope) or sign up to our quarterly newsletter through our homepage.




Launch of the Counter Narrative Library


Hedayah launched the Counter Narrative Library, a portal through which members of government, practitioners and civil society can access a variety of materials designed to help better understand and design programmes to counter the narratives of violent extremist groups. Materials available through the portal include content, toolkits and examples of good practice in the form of TV shows, cartoons, books, websites, magazines, blogs, social media campaigns, articles and reports. Currently, the library houses two collections. The first, the Daesh Defector Collection, offers narratives from returning foreign fighters that have defected from Daesh. The second, the South East Asia Collection, features counter-narratives from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. These are available in multiple regional languages and have been compiled as part of a follow-on project from Australia’s Regional Summit to Counter Violent Extremism. Users may search the library by keywords, tags or category, and may also upload new content to the library and rate existing resources.



Policy developments from the European Union (EU)

Various sources

On 20 September, the European Council adopted a legal framework which will allow the EU to apply sanctions autonomously to any person or entity associated with or found to be supporting the so-called Islamic State or al-Qa’ida. Sanctions to be applied could include travel bans and asset freezes. Until now, such measures could only be applied to persons and entities listed either by the United Nations, or by EU member states acting individually [source].

Better co-operation among EU member states and with third countries remains a high priority on the European agenda on terrorism and violent extremism. In light of this, at the Global Counter Terrorism Forum Ministerial Meeting held in New York on 21 September, the EU High-Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, spoke about the EU’s efforts to foster cross-border collaborations, especially with third country partners, and build capacity in various key fields (e.g. law enforcement, criminal justice, countering financing of terrorism). On this occasion, Mogherini also highlighted the importance of community-level prevention activities and emphasised the need to ensure that good and promising practices are shared among relevant actors [see speech here].

The issues of co-ordination mechanisms and emerging practices to tackle violent extremism also featured heavily in discussions between the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, and members of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament, which was held on 26 September. On this occasion, Mr de Kerchove discussed his plans for co-operation with the newly-appointed EU Security Commissioner, Sir Julian King, and took questions on issues of information exchange, prevention strategies – especially in the context of smaller European towns –, the possibility of training Imams in Europe, as well as on the implementation of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) directive, which was approved earlier this year [source].


European Research in social sciences and the humanities in support to policies for inclusion and security : A policy review

Prof. Gilles Kepel and Prof. Bernard Rougier

The European Commission recently published a policy review of European Research in social sciences and the humanities in support to policies for inclusion and security. This report, authored by Prof. Gilles Kepel and Prof. Bernard Rougier, takes stock of the available scientific literature on the phenomena of terrorism and violent extremism that have affected European societies in recent years.  The review provides an overview of recent research trends, discussing in particular works that have focussed on the concept of radicalisation with a view to better understand, anticipate and combat its dynamics. In particular, the review features an analysis of the contributions made by EU-funded research programmes in this area. The second part of the report discusses the nature of jihadism in Europe, providing an overview of its history, social and psychological elements, and the way that these have been presented in the media. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for future research and policy to help inform the design of effective security and inclusion policies addressing terrorism and violent extremism.



Juvenile Violent Extremist Offenders: Peer Pressure or Seasoned Soldiers?  

International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT)

This article by Liesbeth van der Heide and Eva Entenmann focusses on a recent, growing trend in the field of violent extremism: the recruitment of young children to terrorist and violent extremist organisations. Juvenile violent extremist offenders (VEOs) pose significant challenges for policymakers and criminal justice systems because of the particular ways in which they are both different and similar to other types of offender. For example, juvenile VEOs may be more responsive to rehabilitative treatment than their adult counterparts, but treating them alongside other types of juvenile offenders may facilitate the radicalisation of others. The article outlines three possible approaches that criminal justice systems may adopt: a) treating juvenile VEOs as adult offenders; b) treating juvenile VEOs alongside other juvenile offenders; or c) providing specialised treatment for juvenile VEOs. The authors recognise that all three options have significant drawbacks and argue for greater consideration of the particular characteristics and needs of the growing number of very young violent extremist offenders.



MENA Economic Monitor: Economic and social inclusion to prevent violent extremism

World Bank

The latest issue of the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Economic Monitor discusses the slowing economic growth of the MENA region, focusing in particular on the effects of declining oil prices. Suggesting a relationship between economic performance and the spread of violent extremism across the MENA region, the research team seek to investigate economic drivers of radicalisation through an analysis of a leaked dataset on 3,803 Islamic State foreign recruits. These personnel files include information on age, education levels, skills, self-reported knowledge of religious teachings and country of residence of foreign fighters, and give insights into country-level risk factors that may be driving terrorist recruitment. The research team found that while poverty and low education levels do not characterise foreign recruits, economic and social exclusion in their home country, measured in terms of unemployment, may be an important factor driving individuals’ decisions to join the so-called Islamic State. The report therefore suggests that policies which promote jobs creation may help to curb the growth of violent extremism, and in turn limit the disruptive effects of violent extremism on regional and national economic growth.




  • Summit of Mayors – “Alliance of European Cities Against Violent Extremism”
    European Forum for Urban Security
    Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 9 November 2016


  • Who determines the security (research) agenda
    The Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) Conference
    The Hague, the Netherlands, 9 -10 November 2016


[Image shared by Comité des Régions / Committee of the Regions via Flickr; CC BY 2.0]