VOX-Pol participated in the Youth Against Violent Extremism conference in Oslo on 4 June. The conference, organised by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was attended by 150 civil society organisations from across Europe who were invited to share their concerns, sentiments and suggestions regarding violent extremism with each other, and with policymakers and politicians.
On Day 1 o f the two-day event, which was inaugurated by Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, civil society activists from various EU Member States shared their experiences working against violent extremism in their communities. In addition to civil society leaders, the participants also included former extremists and victims of various terrorist attacks in the UK, and the July 2011 attack in Norway.
The first day also included breakout sessions on counter extremism work within communities; activism and campaigning online; the role of faith in countering violent extremism; and the role of gender in countering violent extremism.
Event organisers set up an online network to enable participants of the conference to stay connected, creating a space in which they can share their activities and receive advice to aid their activism. It is hoped the new space will pave the way for a Europe-wide network that convenes in regional innovations labs.
On Day 2, the ideas, suggestions and recommendations put forward by activists on the first day were put to policymakers and politicians from across Europe. VOX-Pol coordinator, Dr Maura Conway, addressed the gathering. Dr Conway spoke of the importance of, and necessity for, rigorous research into violent political extremism in order to appropriately meet the many challenges that it poses to societies today.