The implementation of P/CVE in conflicts: lessons from STRIVE Afghanistan

Think tank: RUSI

Author(s): Emily Winterbotham

May 21, 2024

This report from UK think tank RUSI outlines recommendations for the effective implementation of P/CVE programmes in conflict settings.

Terrorism continues to take place primarily in contexts of violent conflict. According to the 2023 Global Terrorism Index, in 2022, more than 88% of terrorism-related attacks and 98% of terrorism deaths occurred in countries experiencing conflict. Yet there are pronounced risks associated with implementing sensitive P/CVE (preventing and countering violent extremism) activities in active conflicts. The security of staff on the ground is difficult to guarantee, and programme impact may be minimal given the fast-changing environment. Government engagement also depends on the capacities of the state and its proximity to armed conflict.

With conflict unlikely to decline in the foreseeable future, and an increase in the number of countries cut off from regular international political and development cooperation, what does this mean for P/CVE efforts? Can P/CVE be effective in conflict zones or in contexts where the lines between conflict actors, terrorists and the government itself are blurred? There are few quality studies of P/CVE in conflict settings. This partly reflects the difficulty of gathering evidence in such settings, and partly reflects donors’ desire for discretion in sensitive contexts.

This Policy Brief outlines recommendations for the effective implementation of P/CVE programmes in conflict settings that draw on lessons learned from Afghanistan as part of RUSI’s Strengthening Resilience to Violent Extremism (STRIVE) Afghanistan programme. STRIVE Afghanistan was an EU-funded programme (2019–24) focused on reducing the vulnerability of at-risk populations in Afghanistan to recruitment into violent extremist (VE) groups.