Can violent extremists be demobilized?
Conflict is on the rise worldwide, and it is becoming more deadly. The United Nations and other international organizations increasingly find themselves to be not guarantors of a hard-won peace, but objects for devastating attack. In such difficult operational contexts, what is the relevance do the lessons of past efforts to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate (DDR) armed groups? Is there any real prospect that violent extremists can be demobilized?
These were the questions that Dr Siobhan O'Neil and I set out to answer with a small group of scholar-practitioners - Dr Vanda Felbab-Brown, Naureen Chowdhury Fink and Dr Bruce 'Ossie' Oswald CSC - in an edited volume published through UNU in June 2015. What we found surprised us - and it described here.
As a result of our research, Dr O'Neil is now leading a new programme at UN University, devoted to understanding children's pathways into and out of extreme violence - and to develop policy and practice guidance for those at the UN and beyond charged with addressing it.