Preventing violent extremism (PVE)

Graffiti as an appeal for peace during Nairobi rioting © Frederic Courbet/Panos

Preventing violent extremism (PVE) is a priority of Switzerland's foreign policy. It is part of Switzerland's engagement for peace and human security. Under Switzerland's Foreign Policy Action Plan on Preventing Violent Extremism, the HSD is working with its partners to deprive violent extremism of its breeding ground and promote a global response that aims to build more peaceful societies. To do this it places dialogue at the heart of prevention.

Human security and the prevention of violence

Prevention means accepting that violence is born within our societies. We must understand why and act on that understanding.

Switzerland is working to eradicate the direct and structural causes of violent extremism. Exclusion (political, social, economic and cultural) and human rights abuse are some of the reasons why young people in particular turn to violent extremism.

For Switzerland, preventing violent extremism means continuing to step up its efforts in favour of peace and human rights and to promote inclusive dialogue as the key to prevention. To do so, it draws on the experience of the Human Security Division, acting as the FDFA’s competence centre, and its experts in conflict management, mediation, democratisation and political participation.

Rather than responding to violent extremism with security measures, we must foster the necessary inclusion and peaceful coexistence to establish human security within our societies. 

Working with all stakeholders to promote inclusive dialogue

Switzerland cooperates bilaterally with states such as Lebanon, Senegal, Tunisia and Togo in their efforts to develop public policy on PVE. It promotes working methods that cultivate an environment for multi-stakeholder dialogue.

Working closely with civil society, Switzerland puts women and young people at the centre of this approach. While they are often the victims or perpetrators of violent extremism, they are also important partners in prevention. Through projects and programmes in Lebanon and Tunisia, for example, Switzerland takes part in practical efforts to combat social, political and economic exclusion and promote inclusive dialogue and respect for human rights.

Between 2017 and 2020, through partnerships in Tunisia with International Alert and the local organisation Beder, Switzerland supported projects to promote the participation of young people in local politics in the disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Ettadhamen and Douar Hicher and in the municipality of Jendouba. 

Project for integrating young people in local politics – International Alert

The FDFA promotes women's participation both in local projects and in relation to equality and human rights strategies. For example, the FDFA supports the annual PVE forum of the Women's Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL). 

International Civil Society Action Network – ICAN - For Women's Rights, Peace and Security

Women's Alliance for Security Leadership

'Regional Conversations on the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Africa' and international cooperation

In 2016, Switzerland joined with various partners to launch the initiative 'Regional Conversations on the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Africa'. The Conversations provide a space for dialogue on the prevention approach, strengthen bridges between an array of actors, and highlight successful initiatives representing concrete alternatives to combat violent extremism in North Africa, West Africa, the Sahel and Central Africa. The conversations have already brought together more than 1,000 figures from many sectors in regional meetings in Dakar, N'Djamena, Algiers, Ouagadougou, Bangui, Yaoundé and Abidjan, and public panel discussions in New York, Geneva and Dakar.

In partnership with the African Centre for the Study & Research on Terrorism of the African Union, Switzerland developed a course on the prevention of violent extremism for AU member states. 

Regional Conversations on the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Africa (2016–present) (fr, en) (PDF, 827.2 kB, multilingual: French, English)

Finally, Switzerland supports discussion on PVE in organisations such as the UN, the OSCE, the International Organisation of La Francophonie and the African Union. International Geneva, which plays an important role in strengthening human rights and the rule of law, conflict prevention and the prevention of violent extremism, is an additional resource in Switzerland's efforts to prevent violent extremism.