Media Center

Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) in Lebanon: Research priorities and policy solutions

< Back to News
22 October 2018
Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) in Lebanon: Research priorities and policy solutions
Lebanon is living nowadays amidst a regional and international environment tormented by conflicts and intra-state wars that pose the risk of national state collapse and the disintegration and dismantling of societies. Due to the geographical and strategic location of Lebanon, its presence in a regional environment where violent extremism is proliferating, the Lebanese government sought to develop a national strategy for the Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) with the aim of maintaining security and social peace and safeguarding Lebanon’s social diversity.
Against this backdrop, UNESCO Beirut and the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development partnered in a project titled “Enhancing Research Linkage for a State of Knowledge in Lebanon” (2018-2019), which aims to strengthen the role of universities as key educational and knowledge production institutions, backing up decision making at the national level and in all fields contributing to country’s growth and development.

The project implements tools and mechanisms to contribute to the UNESCO’s inter-governmental programme on Management of Social Transformations (MOST) which works with governments, social and human science communities and civil societies to improve connections between knowledge and action, connections that are one key to positive social change and to promote a culture of evidence-informed decision-making. This will improve policymaking processes through a strengthened research-policy interface, which uses knowledge focused on human needs from the social and human sciences to promote a culture of evidence-informed decision-making. One key component of the “Enhancing Research Linkage for a State of Knowledge in Lebanon” project is capacity development of university students and researchers on emerging development issues, through a series of interlinked trainings, research and dialogues.

In April 2018, the MOST school on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially #5 on Gender Equality and #16 on Social Inclusion and Peace, including Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) in Lebanon, was organized and produced a set of recommendations including further policy research questions and methodologies.

As part of the project “Enhancing Policy research linkage for a state of Knowledge in Lebanon” and as follow up to the MOST School, UNESCO Beirut, in partnership with the Hariri Foundation and the national unit of the Prevention of Violent Extremism at the Office of the Prime Minister, and in cooperation with the Institute of Social Sciences of the Lebanese University, organized on 18-19 October 2018 a research meeting on “Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) in Lebanon: Research priorities and policy solutions”.

The meeting that was hosted at the Grand Serail aimed to further share research methodologies, findings and further propose policy solutions among researchers and civil society activists.

At the opening session, Mrs Bahia al-Hariri, said: "Our meeting coincides with the celebration of the 73rd anniversary of the United Nations and UNESCO, and the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the 75th anniversary of the independence of Lebanon. We have high hopes that this meeting lead to efficient brainstorming on the ways to prevent violent extremism and safeguard the security and social cohesion of our country". 

Ms Rubina Abi Zainab, coordinator the national PVE strategy and head of the PVE unit at the Office of the Prime Minister, said: "Our national strategy for PVE highlights the role of universities, research institutes, international organizations and NGOs in producing a scientific knowledge to understand social transformations. This meeting is important in this regard as it offers a platform for various stakeholders to brainstorm on efficient ways to implement the PVE strategy". 

Dr Seiko Sugita, Programme Specialist of the Social and Human Sciences Programme at UNESCO Beirut, said: “Violent extremism can be defined as the use of violence, in line with an ideological commitment to achieve political, religious, or social goals. Violent extremists promote fear and division, preach exclusion and hatred. Violent extremists breed on mistrust and fear of others, on lack of confidence in the future. There is no single cause for the rise of violent extremism – nor is there a single trajectory leading someone to extremist violence. Therefore, we need to have a deeper and nuanced understanding of socio-economic factors that contribute to impoverishment, marginalization and exclusion, as well as personal motivations (such as distortion and misuse of beliefs) that may contribute to radicalization”. She added: “UNESCO’s Constitution- to build the defences of peace in the minds of women and men- is more relevant than ever. Our vision is clear. It is not enough to counter violent extremism – we need to prevent it. Our forward looking should explore preventive measures aiming to create an environment where people, especially the young people can be in control of their own lives, free from manipulation by violence, propaganda, and hate speech”. She concluded: “Violent extremism is a fundamental social problem, which calls for social solutions where everyone is a stakeholder”.

As to Dr Marline Haidar, from the Lebanese University, she commented: "Universities, government, and NGOS, should work together to build a social protection against violent extremism. Education, health, and socio-cultural policies should be developed at the national level to counter and prevent this phenomenon". 

For two days, participants listened to speakers’ and experts’ presentations, and attended interactive workshops where they shared their research findings and brainstormed on possible paths to prevent violent extremism in Lebanon. The sessions covered a wide variety of topics, including: Social institutions, their role in combating violent extremism; Educational institutions (official, private, religious, civic) and their role in reducing violent extremism; Financial policies and the role of banks to contribute to the reduction of violent extremism; Sectarianism and its relationship to violent extremism.