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Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism: The “Uzbek Model”

On June 11-12, 2018, an International Conference on “Role of Youth in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism” was organised by the Government of Uzbekistan along with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Tashkent and Samarkand. 164 experts from 22 countries and international organisations such as United Nations (UN), OSCE, European Union (EU), and about 50 members from the Youth Union of Uzbekistan participated in the conference. The Conference was dedicated to understanding youth policies, sharing of experiences, and formulating a common understanding on the issue of preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalisation that leads to terrorism.

The conference deliberated on issues such as the strengthening of legal and political frameworks for preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalisation amongst youth, augmenting international and national efforts, cooperation between government and civil society, modern challenges facing the youth and role of youth organisations, impact of mass media and internet, and the role of religious actors. The key objective of the conference was to look at best practices and develop a holistic approach to preventing and countering the spread of violent extremism and terrorism among the youth.

There was general consensus among the participants that in order to attain the goals of sustainable development and the creation of an inclusive and prosperous world, it is essential for governments, parliaments and international organisations to undertake active youth policies and enhance the role of youth in decision making at local and international levels. Major suggestions that emerged from the two-day deliberation were:

  • Countering the spread of the ideology of violent extremism among the youth, leading to radicalisation, must include institutional, legal, political, socioeconomic and information measures embodying genuine democratic reforms for human rights, economic liberalisation and modern education.
  • International organisations, governments and politicians must focus on greater engagement with the youth. Focus should be on creating a conducive/positive environment for self-realisation of the youth, their education and enlightenment as well as nurturing tolerant consciousness and behaviour.
  • Effective response to the challenge of violent extremism should not be based entirely on enforcement. Implementation of preventive mechanism and prophylaxis are most effective in mitigating this growing challenge.
  • No single country can tackle this challenge alone. Radicalisation and terrorism being a transnational/trans-boundary challenge, it demands adequate multilateral efforts and strengthening of international cooperation.
  • In this context, it is important to formulate international standards of youth policies, promote multilateral cooperation in social support of young generation, protection of their rights and interests. In this regard, there is a relevant initiative of Uzbekistan to adopt, namely, the International Convention on the Rights of the Youth.
  • Youth organisations must play an active role in implementation of the youth policy. In fact, a sustainable mechanism should be created for their involvement in making decisions and their implementation, inter alia, internationally. It is also important to empower the youth, enhancing their legal awareness and social engagement and promoting job creation.
  • Cooperation amongst the Central Asian states and their adjacent areas must be enhanced as they are comparatively young. It is expedient to set up Forums of the Youth of Central Asian countries as a platform for interaction and sharing of experience in countering the influence of radical groups, conduct joint cultural and sports activities as well as business forums.
  • Terrorism and violent extremism can’t be linked to any specific religion. Promoting tolerance and harmony among the religious groups, and fighting stereotypes, biases and prejudices should be a common cause.
  • While it is true that in most of the extremist activities youth have been involved, it is e