On 21 September 2017, on the margins of the 72nd UN General Assembly, the Global Solutions Exchange (GSX) marked its first year of activity by hosting #GSX2017 – Innovations in Civil Society and Other Locally-Led Efforts to Prevent Violent Extremism. The all-day event brought dozens of civil society practitioners— many at the helm of women’s and youth organizations including members of the global networks such as the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL)—from around the globe together with representatives from national and local authorities and multilateral institutions, to highlight their unique contributions to reducing recruitment and radicalization into violence in their communities. More than 180 policymakers, practitioners, diplomats, and experts attended the event.
Participants underlined the innovative approaches that each sector brings to PVE and the necessity of ensuring diversity in the planning, design, implementation, and monitoring of national and local strategies. Despite their contributions, however, the representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) reminded the audience of the ways in which the legal and political space for CSOs is shrinking in certain contexts, often in the name of counterterrorism (CT), and stressed that governments and multilateral institutions must recognize and support independent civil society as a strong partner in PVE.
The discussions also emphasized the need for greater attention to structural factors and direct actions that actors can take in the realms of education, economic empowerment, security, religion, and culture to prevent violent extremism.