In response to this gap in knowledge and activity around violent extremism in the South African context, ALPS began its “Preventing Violent Extremism” workshop series in 2017. The 2017 series focused largely on building a network of committed individuals, defining terms, and laying out a needs-based plan for future activities.
In 2018, ALPS built on this foundation with a continuation of the workshop series. Our workshops this year focused on law enforcement’s role in PVE and methods of measuring community resilience to violent extremism. Our aim was to improve participants’ understanding of extremist threats and domestic vulnerabilities through keynote speaker presentations, breakaway group discussions, and scenario planning exercises.
The workshops allowed ALPS to expand its network of subject-matter experts and solidify working relationships with government and key research institutions. Sustained engagement between key stakeholders is critical at this juncture, where we can prevent violent extremism instead of countering it. ALPS Resilience proposes to continue its extremism and resilience workshop series in 2019.
Preventing Violent Extremism Workshop Series
In 2018, ALPS played a key role in driving conversations on violent extremism in South Africa and the region by continuing its PVE workshop series with support from the British High Commission and the Australian High Commission. The objective of the annual workshop series is to provide a platform for sustained engagement, learning, dialogue and problem-solving on fostering resilience to violent extremism, in all forms, in South Africa. The series was attended by a total of 180 participants representing civil society, national government, law enforcement, and academia.
Today, it is impossible to discuss international peace and security without considering extremist groups and the threats they pose. Experts agree that South Africa is not immune to an attack; however, few organisations are focusing on how global extremism is affecting domestic security. Citing its non-interventionist foreign policy, the government and other key stakeholders have been cautious about developing a robust response. Regional security issues and domestic challenges, including massive inequality, low social cohesion and corruption, are well researched but not understood as potential drivers or indicators of extremism.