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Human (In)-Security and Violent Extremism

The violent extremism - human insecurity nexus in MENA: Drivers and Opportunities

Transnational - Security & Conflict, Women Peace & Security - Format: PDF - Size: 949.79 KB - Date: Jun, 2024 - Pages: 16 - Copyright: NATO Strategic Direction South HUB - Tags: MENA

This report scrutinises the nexus between violent extremism and human insecurity in two main sections. The first concentrates on key drivers of human insecurity across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), while the second focuses on potential long-term opportunities for preventing extremist exploitation of human insecurity hotspots.


Terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, is the most direct asymmetric threat to the security of citizens and to international peace and prosperity. In assessing the root causes of terrorism, human insecurity is among the key underlying factors that facilitates its expansion and regeneration. Although this alone cannot explain the entire phenomenon of radicalization and recruitment, terrorist groups (TGs) and violent extremist organisations (VEOs) have learned to utilize the lack of human security in their propaganda narrative to attract new recruits.

The factors that create human insecurity hotspots across MENA are multifaceted and deeply interconnected. Most of those frequently identified by regional experts, as well as by NSD-S Hub assessments, concern heightened levels of violence, displacement and refugee flows, and humanitarian gaps. These factors not only act as destabilizing elements but also as mechanisms which further facilitate the growth and expansion of various TGs and VEOs.

As violent extremism poses a formidable challenge to global peace and security, a strategic shift towards long-term solutions that focus on improving human security is required, addressing the underlying factors driving it. While immediate security measures remain crucial, the emphasis on long-term solutions to radicalism reflects the growing understanding of such a complex challenge.

Key insights

  • The majority of ongoing human insecurity hotspots are associated with heightened levels of violence which affect local non-combatant/civilian populations in particular. Specifically, the MENA region is experiencing a significant rise in violence and casualties caused by the re-intensification of military clashes and conflicts.
  • Although the provision of immediate emergency humanitarian aid is nuanced and does not appear to have a clear and immediate connection to countering terrorism and violent extremism, humanitarian assistance can be effectively used to tackle certain factors of radicalization, for example poverty and the lack of access to basic services.
  • Understanding the long-term solutions for improving human security is crucial in the ongoing commitment to build a more secure environment. The following elements have the potential to serve as long-term solutions to address this challenge: 
    • Involving young people in decision-making processes in all spheres of civic life;
    • Reducing youth unemployment;
    • Education;
    • Strengthening the role of women in countering radicalisation;
    • Preventing radicalization with the help of religious leaders and preachers;
    • Utilizing traditional and social media.
  • Effective rehabilitation and reintegration programmes are essential for those previously involved in extremist activities. These programmes focus on addressing the psychological and social factors that led individuals to extremism, providing counselling, education and vocational training to facilitate their reintegration into society. To ensure successful reintegration, it is also crucial to prepare the broader community to counteract stigmatization and embrace, accommodate and support released offenders.
The NATO Southern Hub

© Story by NATO Strategic Direction South HUB

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