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Appropriate International Development Responses to Address Violent and Hateful Extremism

Appropriate International Development Responses to Address Violent and Hateful Extremism

This project is a partnership between Plan International Australia and Deakin University investigating how violent and hateful extremism (VHE) can be best addressed at the community level, through development and humanitarian activities.

Through the project we are collaborating with Plan’s country offices in Mozambique, Kenya, Indonesia, and the Philippines to examine the amelioration of VHE in those case study contexts. The project is also developing collaborations with academic colleagues in each country, as we investigate the situation and application in each local context. 

The project is funded through an Australian Research Council Linkage Project Grant ($540,377) with substantial additional funding and in-kind support from Plan International Australia ($620,940) and Deakin University ($546,242). The project commenced in September 2021 and will run until late 2025.  

Project Aims

  1. Understand the impact of VHE on communities in which Plan International works in the four countries, as well as on Plan’s programmes and projects. 
  2. Examine the efficacy of various existing non-Plan programmes in addressing VHE. 
  3. Develop and test VHE context analysis tools suitable for mainstreaming into all project planning and baseline data collection. 
  4. Develop and test indicators for measuring effectiveness in addressing VHE. 
  5. Develop recommendations for Plan country offices, including new project ideas specific to each country context. 

Project Period: 1 September 2021 to 30 August 2025 

Project Background

Awareness of the need for more holistic approaches to Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) has grown steadily over the past decade. Authorities now increasingly seek to engage the problem both upstream (to prevent radicalisation into violent behaviour) and downstream (to disengage individuals from violent extremist social networks and reintegrate them into healthy social relationships). Both approaches recognise that underlying grievances and conflict drivers can crush legitimate aspirations and contribute to some people/groups radicalising. Both require working in partnership with communities and civil society agencies, to build resilience and engage young people, in particular.  

At the same time, many international development actors have come to recognise that violent extremism (VE) is a widespread problem in many communities in which they work, and that development programs can influence the dynamics of extremism (positively or negatively). This recognition has led to recent moves to integrate P/CVE into foreign aid strategies and funding.  

Many P/CVE interventions could theoretically be a natural fit for international development/humanitarian NGOs. NGOs already implement programs aimed at addressing inequality, deprivation, marginalisation and human rights violations, and seek to enhance social cohesion, community resilience, freedoms and capabilities. Nevertheless, being seen to be working in P/CVE is often problematic. The environments within which extremism flourishes, characterised by violence and fragility, already present many challenges to building trust and providing assistance. Because public attention has focussed primarily on the security aspects of P/CVE, especially counter-terrorism (where most funding has gone), NGO engagement in P/CVE risks them being perceived as aligning closely with state security interests. Thus, aligning with P/CVE agendas risks eroding the independence at the heart of NGO strategies. Moreover, perceptions of such alignment increase direct risk to staff and recipients, and complicate their commitment to ‘do no harm’ principles. 

This ARC Linkage project will focus on developing knowledge, tools and elements of interventions, to enable the planning and implementation of appropriate programmes at individual, household and community levels, and ways to wisely and effectively engage government agencies, security forces or religious leaders that either implicitly support violent and hateful extremism (VHE), or directly propagate narratives or violence themselves. Of particular need are tools to enable NGOs like Plan to conduct robust, context-specific VHE situation analysis, and then integrate this analysis into their project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. A central contribution of this project will be the development of such analytical tools for NGO programming, more along the lines of the ‘do no harm’/conflict-sensitivity and gender analysis tools widely adopted across the sector.  

This project defines a new concept, violent and hateful extremism (VHE), as: the incitement of hatred, hate speech and hate acts, and the use or threat of violence by extremist social movements seeking to bring about political and societal change in the name of certain ideological ends, sometimes framed in terms of religion and/or identity, by means that dehumanise and bring harm to others. In the vast majority of cases, this involves significant elements of misogyny. Around the globe, both local and international VHE movements tend to frame their justifying grievances in terms that focus not just on perceived general threats to group rights and status, but also on specific threats to male authority and status. Using this justifying narrative VHE movements are characterised by the channelling of toxic masculinity towards hatred and violence. 

Our project thus expands the conceptual and theoretical understandings of P/CVE, to also incorporate responses to ‘hateful extremism’ (HE). Importantly, this expansion came from Plan local field staff, through our initial collaboration, and is thus the result of incorporating bottom-up voices and co-design into the conceptual framework. 

VHE represents an important theoretical development, in that it also better aligns with the immediate daily needs of most people around the world. Whilst the manifestation of VE in forms such as international terrorism remains a global threat, outside conflict zones it does not generally constitute an existential threat. Nonetheless, VE continues to receive a disproportionate investment in intelligence and policing, often resulting in perverse outcomes—such as high levels of securitisation and the targeting of certain communities in ways that undermine social cohesion, trust and respect. By contrast, HE is a day-to-day issue. For the majority of people, HE, including misogyny, race hate and the enabling environment of hyper-nationalist political actors, all constitute a more immediate threat and greater problem than VE. As a result, there exists both great need and great opportunity to partner with such communities, and civil society actors serving them, in countering HE. Framing P/CVE more broadly as countering VHE presents a better foundation for cooperation based on trust and mutual interest. Finally, and most importantly, while by definition VE excludes the state and state actors as perpetrators, HE explicitly includes the possibility the state and state actors may be perpetrators of hate acts or speech, and threats of violence against minorities. This is a significant theoretical expansion, with important policy and practice implications to be explored in this project. 

This project will contribute significant conceptual innovation to Plan’s work in these contexts, to improve project planning. The new analytical tools and planning processes that it will develop, as well as contextual indicators of effectiveness, will facilitate significantly improved programme outcomes. This has significant potential to benefit not only the individuals and families/communities participating in the programs, but also the societies in those countries, by extension, regional stability. The project will develop concrete recommendations for interventions by Plan in contexts affected by VHE in Asia and Africa. Beyond PIA, these findings have the potential to benefit the entire sector. 

Project Team

Associate Professor Anthony Ware 

A/Prof Anthony Ware is an Associate Professor in International and Community Development at Deakin University. His research focusses on humanitarian/international development approaches in conflict-affected situations, with particular interests in Myanmar, the Rohingya conflict, everyday peace, conflict sensitivity/do no harm, and participatory or community-led development. He completed his PhD at Deakin in 2012, and since then has secured $1.178 million in research funding, and has published 5 books, 2 special issues, and 55 papers/book chapters. His 2018 book Myanmar’s Rohingya Conflict with Oxford Uni Press has been cited 123 times, and received excellent reviews in Q1 journals from very senior academics and policy makers. In 2017 he was a visiting professor at Manchester University’s Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI), and in 2018 a keynote at London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)’s Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre’s annual flagship event, Southeast Asia Forum. He was awarded a Faculty Excellence in Engagement, Collaboration and Impact through Research award in 2021, and is lead CI on this ARC Linkage project.

Professor Greg Barton 

Prof Greg Barton is a Research Professor in Global Islamic Politics at Deakin University. His research looks at Islam, civil society and democratisation, religion and modernity, and countering violent extremism, with a particular focus on Indonesia, Turkey and Asia in general. From 2007 to 2015 he was the Herb Feith Professor at Monash University, where he led research on radicalisation in the Global Terrorism Research Centre (GTReC). He taught at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu from 2006 to 2007, and at Deakin from 1992 to 2006. He is a Senior Fellow with the UAE-based Hedayah Center in Abu Dhabi, working on P/CVE. His work with Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police led to the development of a break-through risk assessment tool to identify early warning of radicalisation through recognising simultaneous cross-sectoral changes in behaviour. This tool is now used widely across Australia by police, government agencies, and (in a modified form) by community groups and civil society organisations in Australia and Indonesia. This work laid the foundation for ongoing collaboration with government agencies, and led to him forming and leading a capacity-building and collaboration network on CVE, the Southeast Asian Network of Civil Society Organisations (SEAN-CSO). 

Dr Leanne Kelly 

Dr Leanne Kelly is the Postdoctoral Research Fellow on this ARC Linkage project on violent and hateful extremism at Deakin University. She has 20 years’ experience working in development and humanitarian NGOs across five continents with a focus on research and evaluation. Her work centres on crises including conflict, violence, extremism, and disasters. She completed her doctorate at Deakin in 2020, and has 39 peer-reviewed academic papers and two books on evaluation in development NGOs. She is also the National Evaluation Advisor at the Australian Red Cross. 

Dr Dave Husy 

Dr Dave Husy is the Deputy CEO of Plan International Australia, one of Australia’s larger international development and humanitarian NGOs, and a member of the Plan International global federation. Plan International Australia manage a $A67 million program portfolio comprising 73 projects across 17 countries, on behalf of 13 major international donors. PIA’s primary client is DFAT, although they have extensive experience managing grants and projects on behalf of donors including UN agencies, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank. Dr Dave Husy is an international development professional with 25 years experience in development and human rights, and has managed development NGOs and consultancies. He completed his doctorate in 2021 at The University of Melbourne, and is the key person at the ARC Linkage partner organisation, and a Partner Investigator on the ARC project.  

Collaborations

Research Partnership with the School of Strategic & Global Studies, Universitas Indonesia

August 2023 – December 2025 – Jakarta, Indonesia 

This project is partnering with Universitas Indonesia, exploring a series of joint research sub-topics, including: community understandings of the risks of radicalisation and how to counter them locally; youth radicalisation; reintegration of returnees from Syria and after release from prison terms, and; the use of arts and music in promoting tolerance, diversity and equality. To facilitate this, the Deakin members of the ARC Linkage project team have been invited to be visiting researchers at Universitas Indonesia. This fellowship facilitates our joint research projects and provides us with office space, logistical support, and academic expertise from the UI scholars involved. The collaborative research, to be conducted over 2.5 years from August 2023, will entail multiple visits to Indonesia over this time period. During the fellowship, we will work closely with UI’s esteemed faculty members, who share a strong interest in this area of research. We envision this collaboration leading to joint publications that will significantly contribute to the advancement of knowledge and practices in countering violent extremism. 


The 8th Annual International CVE Conference, Hedayah: Countering Extremism and Violent Extremism 

11-13 October 2023 – The Hague, Netherlands 

Our Deakin ARC project team have supported Hedayah with this conference; thus, Deakin is recognised as a strategic partner. Each of the three Deakin project team members have been invited to present individual papers at the conference. 

The main objectives Hedayah aims to achieve through the conference include: 

1. Provide researchers and practitioners with a platform to present new research, exchange ideas, engage in productive discussions, and expand their professional networks. 

2. Allow participants to jointly identify trends and needs for on-the-ground implementation, create foundations for further research, and collaborate on emerging areas of work. 

3. Identify existing gaps in research and encourage interdisciplinary collaborations. 

4. Explore new and innovative ways to address radicalization. 

5. Produce recommendations drawing from research on P/CVE to inform effective implementation. 


 Democracy, Development, and Digital Culture: Building Resilience After the Pandemic, the 7th International Conference on Strategic & Global Studies Conference, Universitas Indonesia 

24-25 July 2023 – Deakin Downtown, Melbourne 

This conference was conducted by Universitas Indonesia in collaboration with our ARC Linkage Project team. The conference focused on global problems, including violent and hateful extremism, and sought engender cooperation between delegates noting that we can no longer work alone in empty spaces far from global challenges. The organisers outlined that the aim of the conference was to be a bridge for delegates to contribute and devise solutions for wicked problems.


 International Development-Humanitarian NGO Responses to Address Violent and Hateful Extremism (VHE) Roundtable Symposium 

28-29 April 2022 – Deakin Downtown, Melbourne 

This roundtable symposium brought 48 invited participants together, split between in-person and online videoconference attendance (due to uncertainties at the time around COVID-19). A majority of participants were practitioners from NGOs, policy-makers with government agencies, or from industry thinktanks, with a minority being university academics.  

Sixteen papers were presented, of new case study and theoretical research, interspersed with 4 pertinent roundtable discussions between all participants on key questions. These roundtable discussions explored: how could international development-humanitarian NGOs bring development and ways to address violent extremism together in the same programmes? How might agencies analysis a context for VHE and assess VHE risk? Whose voices should be heard in VHE analysis and risk assessment, and how? And, what indicators might be adopted for monitoring and evaluating for responses to address VHE by international development-humanitarian NGOs? The result was vibrant discussion around both the presented research papers and these industry-inspired practical questions, extending the thinking and frameworks of all involved. This collaboration has resulted in a special issue in the Q1 journal Conflict, Security, and Development, which will be published in late 2023 and has been guest edited by the project team.  

Publications

Sonrexa, J., Kelly, L., Barton, G. & Ware, A. (2023) Perspectives on violent extremism from development–humanitarian NGO staff in Southeast Asia, Third World Quarterly, 44(1), 170-189. 10.1080/01436597.2022.2141220 Q1 

Barton, G., Husy, D., Kelly, L., Sonrexa, J., Vergani, M. & Ware, A. (2019) Violent extremism and the work of Plan International in Myanmar, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Plan International & Deakin University. 

Ware, A., Barton,G., Husy, D., & Kelly, L. (2023) Violent and Hateful Extremism in Mindanao: A contextual analysis of the situation and development NGO responses, Plan International & Deakin University.

Kelly, L., Ware, A., & Barton,G. (2023) Evaluation of Wahid Foundation’s Peace Village Program, Deakin University.

Ware, A., Kelly, L., & Barton. (2023) Development NGO responses to countering violent extremism and hate, Deakin University.

Presentations

Barton, G. (2023) Rehabilitation and reintegration of Syrian returnees and ex-VE prisoners in Indonesia, The 8th Annual International CVE Conference, Hedayah, The Hague. 11 October 2023. 

Barton, G. (2022) Violent and hateful extremism in Indonesia, AVERT Network Research Symposium, Deakin University, 22 November 2022. 

Kelly, L. (2023) The findings of a systematic literature review on P/CVE programs implemented by development NGOs/CSOs, The 8th Annual International CVE Conference, Hedayah, The Hague. 11 October 2023. 

Kelly, L. (2022) Critical issues for development NGOs regarding interventions for preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE), AVERT Network Research Symposium, Deakin University, 22 November 2022. 

Ware, A., Barton, G., & Kelly. (2023) Appropriate Development Responses to Violent & Hateful Extremism, POLIS Research Group, Deakin University. 28 July 2023. 

Ware, A. (2023) Comparative analysis of the evolving Violent and Hateful Extremism (VHE) situation in the Philippines, Indonesia and Kenya, The 8th Annual International CVE Conference, Hedayah, The Hague. 11 October 2023. 

Ware, A. (2023) Three Key Security Concerns in SE Asia: Myanmar, Rohingya and Violent/ Hateful Extremism, 7th International Conference on Strategic & Global Studies of the University of Indonesia, hosted at Deakin University, 25 July 2023. 

Ware, A. (2023) ‘Localisation/Standardisation’, UNDP: M&E for Peace: Giving Voice & Visibility to All, UNDP Bangkok. 16 March 2023. 

Ware, A. (2023) Appropriate International Development Responses to Address Violent & Hateful Extremism, UNDP: M&E for Peace: Giving Voice & Visibility to All, UNDP Bangkok. 15 March 2023. 

Ware, A. (2022) Violent and hateful extremism in Mindanao: Implications for conflict sensitive development programming by international NGOs Addressing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation to Terrorism (AVERT) Network Research Symposium, Deakin University, 22 November 2022. 

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