Terminology around violent extremism is confusing and problematic. Terms are politicised, used interchangeably and often without a clear definition, resulting in the same terms being used to describe different approaches and interventions with different objectives.
Because of the risks inherent in the terminology of violent extremism, it is important to be able to work to clear and agreed-upon definitions when programming around this issue, even if this can only be achieved at a programmatic level.
This toolkit does not attempt to offer a definitive set of definitions, but sets out examples of working definitions for key terminology. It is strongly recommended that this is developed further with terms being defined and agreed at least at a programming level. This should take place at the outset of a programme to set clear objectives and place boundaries around what violent extremism is and whom it involves in any given context.
Violent extremism – a problematic premise?
In Mali focusing efforts around preventing and countering violent extremism and counterterrorism have glossed over pre-existing conflicts, divisions between and within communities and between state and citizens, identity and ethnic divisions, and justified aggressive tactics of security forces that have exacerbated the feelings of grievance and exclusion.
Source: International Alert, They treat us all like jihadis,
London: International Alert, 2016