Develop Non-Military Options to Empower Communities Against Violent Extremism and Its Drivers
There should be much greater investment in the development and implementation of “non-military options”, to include targeted resources and technology-enabled capacity-building support to local communities. The PeaceTech Lab, a new entity affiliated with the U.S. Institute of Peace, is involved in such efforts. The goal would be to help local communities analyze armed groups’ sources of power in their area, plan strategies, amplify the voices of nonviolent resistance (without putting activists at undue risk), and support self-organization to counter the violent actors. Sensible investments should target alternative media in these conflict zones, women’s leadership, and artistic efforts to de-legitimize violent activity and encourage nonviolent mobilization. There is no silver bullet in any of this, of course. But helping local communities stay strong and mobilize in the midst of violence may be one of the best short and long-term ways to advance security and development.