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LPHM - Expert Meeting on Understanding the Underlying Philosophies and Psychological Causes of Extremism

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LPHM - Expert Meeting on Understanding the Underlying Philosophies and Psychological Causes of Extremism

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Antwerp, Belgium
21 Oct 2013 to 22 Oct 2013
Duration of event:
2 Days
Programme Area:
Local Development, Migration
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Due to isolated incidents within Europe and abroad, there is a growing concern in most countries and cities concerning polarization, radicalization and extremism. Governments and other relevant groups are looking at how to prevent this spectrum of phenomena through raising awareness, improving communication, strengthening coordination and collective understanding of how such processes unfold.

Local and regional authorities (LRAs) play a vital role in countering radicalization and extremism, in addition to “working to avoid a culture of fear” (Antwerp Expert Meeting, 9-10 July 2012). Not least as federal authorities increasingly depend on LRAs and more frequently rely on them, there is a need to both understand how LRAs prevent radicalization and extremism, and what support they require to pursue this goal.
Among others, it is evident that a multi-stakeholder approach is required involving: first-line practitioners (youth workers, police, teachers, etc.); relatives; community networks; social networks including virtual ones; and civil society. Nevertheless, inherent challenges exist such as obstacles to information sharing amongst security sectors and between security and other sectors such as academia. Moreover, much work is required to both understand and translate into policy actions, the role of religion in the radicalization process.

On 19 April 2013, the Government of Belgium passed its first national strategy on “the prevention of violent radicalism”. Main axes of the law include:
  • a better understanding and collective sensitization regarding polarization and violent radicalization;
  • a plan of action to counter frustrations which may lead to radicalization including concrete steps to fight racism and xenophobia, and reducing unemployment levels in particular of young persons; increasing “moral resistance” of individuals, groups and relevant communities;
  • support to specific support networks in their efforts to counter radicalism including: local actors, police, parents, youth representatives, medical sector, religious communities, etc.;
  • countering calls to radicalization over the Internet; and
  • prevention and de-radicalization in prisons.
    Underlying these axes are a commitment to: voluntary participation; confidence and mutual respect; and priority to local actors and/or civil society including religious entities.
A number of Belgian cities, including the City of Antwerp, have recently developed a local strategy to prevent and counter the radicalization of young people. Moreover, on 23-24 September 2013, the Government of Belgium will convene an international conference in Brussels on the subject of preventing violent radicalization. The Antwerp-based Expert Meeting on “Understanding the Underlying Philosophies and Psychological Causes of Radicalism” will draw from the findings of this international conference, bringing international perspectives with both experts and practitioners from other corners of the world to share specific case studies and preventive approaches.
It will be hosted in the context of the Learning Platform on Human Mobility (LPHM). Established in 2012, the LPHM is a global platform for learning on all aspects of human mobility dedicated to sharing of good practices and lessons learned from and between local and regional government. In addition, in 2013, the LPHM covers: addressing public perceptions, mastering communication strategies, and partnering with the media (May 2013); and fostering migrant entrepreneurship and diaspora investment (December 2013). 

The main objectives of this LPHM Expert Meeting are the following:

  • Build on the findings of a Belgian Conference on preventing violent radicalization, taking place on 23-24 September, by taking the findings further with an international team of experts and field practitioners;
  • Outline the principal factors leading to radicalization (building on the above Meeting);
  • Share available evidence/data from different cities and regions, globally;
  • Draw out early warning signals from specific incidents across different cities and regions;
  • Share experiences on how LRAs can mitigate related factors through timely examples;
  • Map out existing and required support roles in Belgium, of: community leaders; non-governmental sector; and public services. 


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