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RUSI has significant international expertise in countering violent extremism (CVE) – researching radicalisation, implementing CVE programmes, and understanding what works and what doesn’t. 

Threats from terrorism and violent extremism are a top priority for governments and multilateral bodies such as the UN and the EU. There is a growing recognition that counter-terrorism, with its dependence on military, law enforcement and intelligence responses, cannot manage the problem alone. CVE has emerged as a field of theory and practice that seeks to complement counter-terrorism with non-coercive measures, particularly using preventative approaches which seek to address the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism.

The Institute’s expertise in countering violent extremism spans research, policy analysis, programme implementation, and training and education. RUSI’s CVE work reaches across the world, with particular emphasis on the UK and Europe, the Middle East, East Africa, and Central Asia. 

Current Activities

STRIVE Horn of Africa

RUSI is partnering with the European Commission to increase societal and individual resilience to violent extremism in Kenya and Somalia. The project was the European Union’s first CVE programme outside Europe. The project involves research into drivers of radicalisation and pilot CVE interventions with law enforcement agencies, civil society organisations, and vulnerable youths in Kenya and Somalia. Read more >

The Prevention Project: Organising Against Violent Extremism

The Prevention Project, led by former senior State Department official Eric Rosand, is a partnership between the Global Center on Cooperative Security, the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth, the Brookings Institute, and RUSI. The project aims to identify how a better ‘whole of society’ approach can deal with violent extremism. A series of workshops and papers have been completed, leading to a major paper incorporating practical recommendations for governments, NGOs and multilateral bodies at the end of 2016. Read more >

CVE Training

With the French agency CiviPol, RUSI is leading on the delivery of CVE training for the European Union. The training aims to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the successful design, delivery and evaluation of CVE programmes.  The training, targeted primarily at EU delegations, is being delivered in the Middle East, East Asia, Central Asia, the Western Balkans, and East Africa, as well as in Brussels for EU officials.

ISIS in the Khorasan

In conjunction with Associate Fellow Dr Antonio Giustozzi, RUSI is working on an evaluation of the reality and extent of IS in Khorasan (Central and South Asia). With the support of the Smith Richardson Foundation and drawing heavily on on-the-ground research supplemented with workshops in London, the project will culminate in a book and workshops offering a research based understanding of the of IS in the region.

Building sustainable peace in Pakistan

Funded by the EU Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) this project aims to ‘Build sustainable peace by strengthening women and youth’s capacity in prevention of violence and transformation of conflicts through Internal Community Mechanisms and advocating for inclusion of women in the field of CVE. The project aims to provide information and real evidence about women and youth’s roles in CVE and in peacebuilding more generally in Pakistan, which will create knowledge and identify best practice, specifically in relation to an Islamic context. Read more >

EU Funded Research into Community Tensions and Youth Radicalisation in Selected areas of Iraq

The aim of the research is to inform and complement ongoing and future community stabilisation and CVE programming implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and facilitate, where appropriate, the delivery of targeted interventions by IOM to mitigate the push and pull factors pertaining to radicalisation and extremism among the youth in specific Iraqi communities that have been affected by displacement and conflict.

Recent Activities

In 2016, the Institute conducted a five-country study of the capacity for CVE programmes in five countries (Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Kosovo, Bangladesh) for the Global Community Engagement Resilience Fund. RUSI also completed two studies for the UK Department for International Development: ‘Drivers of Violent Extremism’ and ‘Conflict and Countering Violent Extremism’. The study concluded that Islamist violent extremists were nurtured and sustained by conflict, and so seek to prolong and aggravate the wars in which they are involved. This work has led to the commissioning by Palgrave Macmillan of a forthcoming monograph, Conflict, Violent Extremism and Development: New Challenges, New Responses.

In 2015 and 2016, the Institute conducted a five-country study including over 250 people to better understand Islamist and extreme-right in movements in Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, their relations with one another, and the roles women - and men - play within them, and against them.  The research concluded that while men and women may radicalise for the same complex reasons, gender dynamics in radicalisation (mechanisms of female ‘radicalisation’) were sometimes different. It also urged caution regarding the focus on women as a natural ally in CVE interventions and suggested that current approaches to CVE could be counter-productive. The results of the research will be published in a series of articles in the RUSI journal.


Countering Violent Extremism and Risk Reduction: A Guide to Programme Design and Evaluation by James Khalil and Martine Zeuthen (2106) aims to assist policy-makers and implementers by examining approaches through which to understand the drivers of violent extremism and the wider context in which this violence occurs.

Learning and Adapting: The Use of Monitoring and Evaluation in Countering Violent Extremism by Laura Dawson, Charlie Edwards and Calum Jeffray (2014) provides professionals with guidance on different aspects of undertaking monitoring and evaluation in CVE programming for the purpose of measuring effectiveness and impact.

RUSI’s published work on counter-terrorism also has significant implications for CVE practitioners. A major RUSI-led  study it led on lone-actor terrorism analysed comprehensive data on cases from across Europe. The report’s finding that the terrorist threat from the far-right was particularly picked up by media around the world.  In Nigeria, RUSI published a report in 2015  offering policy proposals for the new Nigerian government as they pursued their fight against Boko Haram.


Emily Winterbotham
Senior Research Fellow

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