CVE Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion on "Exploring Approaches to Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in Post-Conflict Prison Settings" held on January 11, 2016 at the United Nations.

The event, organized by the Group of Friends of Corrections and hosted by the Government of Canada, the Group's chair at the time, attracted approximately 80 participants from Member States, United Nations offices and non-governmental organizations.

A panel of representatives from the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, the Department of Peace Operations, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Correctional Service of Canada, and Penal Reform International, all led by moderator Ms. Naureen Chowdhury Fink of the Global Center on Cooperative Security discussed how typical challenges in post-conflict prison systems, such as overcrowding, the lack of good management practices, disregard for prisoners' rights and poor conditions of detention can contribute to prisoners engaging with violent groups.

Panellists highlighted the following points:

Potential Gains: The contained and controlled environment of prisons with access to at-risk prisoners can present an opportunity for CVE interventions.  If managed appropriately, prisons can play a central role in preventing violent extremism.

Link CVE to Broader Reform Agenda: CVE measures cannot be designed and implemented in isolation, but need to embedded in broader strategies to strengthen the capacity of prison services in post-conflict countries.  Basic prison security, sound prison management and respect for international standards, such as the Nelson Mandela Rules are key to reducing the "push factors" for association with violent groups.

Integration is Key:  Integrated approaches to CVE that encompass the work of United Nations and non-United Nations partners in the areas of police; justice; corrections; disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration; and human rights are more likely to yield results.

Focus on Prevention:  The focus of CVE activities in prisons needs to include the prevention of recruitment and prisoner association with violent groups.

Women Matter:  There is a need for further attention to the role of women as victims, perpetrators and partners in the prevention of violent extremism.

Promote Information Exchange: Considering the current lack of research on CVE in prisons, particularly in post-conflict settings, there is a need for increased sharing of national best practices on the issue.