IGF 2018 WS #185 Preventing Youth from Online Violent Radicalization

Format: 

Panel - 90 Min

Organizer 1: Boyan Radoykov, UNESCO

Speaker 1: Chafica Haddad, Intergovernmental Organization, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Lillian Nalwoga, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Ross LaJeunesse, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Nacira Salvan, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Marc Hecker, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Additional Speakers: 

Final speakers:

  • Ms. Chafica Haddad Immediate past IFAP Chair, Grenada
  • Mr. Marc Hecker, Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI), France
  • Ms. Lillian Nalwoga, Internet Society (ISOC), Uganda
  • Mr. Saddem Jebali, Net MED, Tunisia
  • Ms. Divina Frau-Meigs, Universite la Sorbonne, France
Relevance: 

The United Nations System acknowledges that violent extremism has reached a level of threat and sophistication that requires concerted action beyond law enforcement, military or security measures to address development, good governance, human rights and humanitarian concerns.  In 2013, the UNESCO General Conference passed already a resolution on Internet-related issues, which encouraged international and interdisciplinary reflection and debate on the ethical challenges of emerging technologies.

While there is a growing concern of the dissemination of violent extremist ideas through new means of communication, which are exploited for the purposes of extremist propaganda, recruitment by radical groups and incitement to commit violent acts motivated by hate and intolerance, the Québec’s Call for Action encourages all stakeholders to facilitate access to and use of the Internet and new communication technologies as tools and platforms that help prevent radicalization and violent extremism, condemn violence and hate speech, and promote inclusion, equality and intercultural dialogue. 

Access to and use of the Internet and new communication technologies can only be guaranteed if the concept of Internet Universality, based on the R.O.A.M. principles are applied.  It is important to ensure that Internet Governance activities are human Rights-based, Open, Accessible to all, and nurtured by Multi-stakeholder participation. 

The R.O.A.M. principles developed by UNESCO in cooperation with a range of stakeholders, also advocate for considering legal and ethical implications of the internet as it adversely affects individual users or potentially trust and confidence in the Internet.  UNESCO is leading, through its Information for All Programme (IFAP), a range of initiatives to address the ethical, legal and societal aspects of the applications of ICT and promotes the ethical dimensions of the information society, which is one of the priorities of the Organization in its overall effort to implement the decisions of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Preventing violent extremism is a commitment and obligation under the principles and values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments. The panel will look at policies, strategies and practices in a range of countries to ensure “peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development”.

Session Content: 

The panel entitled “Preventing Youth from Online Radicalization leading to Violent Extremism” will look at the measures in place to ensure an Internet of Trust in the wake of violent extremism that is becoming a major challenge for many societies and is threatening the security and fundamental rights of citizens all over the world. 

The panel will build on prior UNESCO conferences such as the:

  • 2015 Conference “Youth and the Internet: Fighting Radicalization and Extremism”;
  • 2016 International Conference “Internet and the Radicalization of Youth: Preventing, Acting and Living Together’’;
  • 2017 third International Conference on “Youth and Information and Communication Technologies: Preventing Violent Extremism in Cyberspace“;
  • 2018 World Congress on Justice for Children: “The challenges of child protection on the darknet”.

The panel will also draw on a number of studies and reports published by UNESCO such as:

  • The CONNECTing the Dots Outcome Document;
  • “Policy Options and Regulatory Mechanisms for Managing Radicalization on the Internet”;
  • Youth and violent extremism on social media”;
  • UNESCO World Trends Report in Freedom of Expression and Media Development 2017.

Ongoing initiatives will also be used as case studies and tools such as:

  • 2011 Code of Ethics for the Information Society;
  • The project “Prevention of Violent Extremism through Youth Empowerment in Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia”.

Ms. Chafika Haddad Immediate past IFAP Chair, will provide an overview of IFAP engagement with the international community to cooperate and strengthen efforts to prevent youth radicalization and fight against violent extremism in all its forms.

Mr. Marc Hecker will provide case studies of profiles of individuals sentenced in France for cases related to jihadism in providing insight on the narratives and ideas on which extremist groups are founded.

Ms. Lillian Nalwoga will provide examples of policies or action plans in Africa to address the prevention of radicalization.

Mr. Saddem Jebali and Ms Divina Frau-Meigs will provide a youth perspective on questioning the narratives and ideas on which extremist groups are founded through the development of consistent counter narratives and through education on information and communication technologies.

Interventions: 

Each speaker will provide a presentation followed by a short question and answer session by audience members and online participants. After all four presentations the floor will be opened for discussions for participants and equally for online participants. In responding to the questions/comments the speakers will deepen their views/perspectives/expertise.

The interventions will provide concrete examples of initiatives to implement the Quebec’s call for Action:

  1. CALL ON the international community to cooperate and strengthen efforts to prevent youth radicalization and fight against violent extremism in all its forms;
  2. ENCOURAGE all governments to implement measures for preventing radicalization leading to violence and to elaborate national policies or action plans dedicated to this end;
  3. RECOMMEND questioning the narratives and ideas on which extremist groups are founded through the development of consistent counter narratives and through education on information and communication technologies that is inclusive and that emphasizes the development of critical thinking, tolerance and respect for human rights;
  4. ENCOURAGE all stakeholders to facilitate access to and use of the Internet and new communication technologies as tools and platforms that help prevent radicalization and violent extremism, condemn violence and hate speech, and promote inclusion, equality and intercultural dialogue
  5. URGE governments to engage and empower youth to lead new digital projects that foster peace, tolerance and mutual understanding and to spread the message far and wide

Each speaker will have an opportunity to provide policy perspectives at national and international level as well as practises to prevent Youth from Online Radicalization leading to Violent Extremism.

Diversity: 

In selecting the speakers gender balance was one objective. The origin of the panelists covers the regions of the Caribbean, Europe, the Arab States and Africa. Nevertheless, the presentation of UNESCO/IFAP offers a global perspective. The workshop will include policy perspectives at national and international level.

Online Participation: 

During this panel we will facilitate online participation. Online attendees will have a separate queue and microphone, which will rotate equally with the mics in the room; the panel moderator will have the online participation session open, and will be in close communication with the panel’s trained online moderator, to make any adaptations necessary as they arise.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The panel will be moderated by Mr. Boyan Radoykov (UNESCO) to facilitate discussion among speakers, audience members and online participants with support of the online moderator. Of the 90 min panel 45 min are foreseen for presentations, and 45 min are dedicated to participants’ engagement. During the discussion part per round two questions/comments/contributions are taken from audience members and two from remote participants.

Onsite Moderator: 

Boyan Radoykov (UNESCO)

Online Moderator: 

Xianhong Hu (UNESCO)

Rapporteur: 

Günther Cyranek (UNESCO)

Report: 

Session Type: Workshop

Title: Preventing Youth from Online Radicalization leading to Violent Extremism

Date & Time: Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 15:00 to 16:30

Organizer: UNESCO

Chair/Moderator: Mr. Boyan Radoykov, UNESCO

Rapporteur/Notetaker: Jaco du Toit, UNESCO

List of speakers and their institutional affiliations:

Ms. Chafica Haddad Grenada Immediate past IFAP Chair Female
Mr. Marc Hecker France Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI) Male
Ms. Lillian Nalwoga Uganda Internet Society (ISOC) Female
Mr. Saddem Jebali Tunisia Net MED Male
Ms. Divina Frau-Meigs France Universite la Sorbonne Female

Theme: Human Rights, Gender & Youth

Subtheme: Internet and Societal Challenges

Key messages of the discussion

  1. Studies of cases of terrorists using the internet show that the Internet is used in four ways as a tool for radicalization: as a radical library, as a recruitment platform, as a means of communication and as a tool to plan attacks.
  2. In order to counter the use of the Internet for radicalization, strategies or policies are to be designed, implemented and monitored addressing the phenomena.These strategies or policies can foresee activities related to gather proof about the issue, engaging in counter-messaging, blocking or deleting content and engaging in media and information literacy.
  3. Youth initiatives designed by youth for youth, that give young people the tools that allow them to resist manipulation linked to social media and other digital means are to be developed and rolled out.

The discussion

The discussants highlighted the importance of continued conclusive research and sensitization on the issue of online radicalization and the use of the internet.  The absence of reliable data, the difficulties in reaching targeted audiences, and terminology used, were highlighted as factors that hamper adequate documentation of its causes and effects on society.  While discussants highlighted that some governments implement measures for preventing radicalization leading to violence, more is to be done to develop such strategies and implement these initiatives.  Some countries apply regulation in the field of online violent extremism, but discussions were not conclusive if regulation is the most efficient way to deal with the phenomena.  Participants and discussants highlighted the importance of involving youth, building on existing best practices and empowering women to deal with online radicalization leading to violent extremism. Media and information literacy initiatives were particularly highlighted as an important sustainable strategy to deal with manipulation linked to social media and other digital means.

Policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward

  1. Policy makers should define the problem of online violent extremism in a clear way in order to assure online safety and security but also not intrude on basic rights of citizens;
  2. In designing measures to counter online radicalization leading to violent extremism, young people, civil society and government institutions are to work together in designing, implementing and monitoring sustainable and holistic strategies;
  3. Policy makers are encouraged to engage in a range of media and information literacy initiatives as a sustainable approach to address online violent extremism.

Ideas with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress

The importance of multistakeholderism was underscored during the session, with specific emphasis of youth participation and the delicate relationship between civil society and governments in some countries.

In addressing the question of online violent extremism it is important not to intrude on the privacy of citizens, while at the safe time assuring a safe online environment.  As one panellist remarked, Internet as double-edged sword.

Several policy makers, alongside various stakeholders are engaging in developing approaches to deal with online violent extremism and these best practices can be duplicated in more countries. 

Estimate number of participants: 100

Estimate percentage of women present: 50%

Gender issues

While the panel of representatives represented 3 women and 2 men, the importance of constructing a counter narrative against violent extremism targeting women was highlighted as a good practise in addressing gender issues.

Session Time: 
Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 15:00 to 16:30
Room: 
Salle IV

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678