Network to Participate in Tony Blair Institute for Global Change Insights Forum

The Network will bring together several religious actors for a panel discussion focusing on reality versus perceptions in order to understand the complexity of drivers of violent extremism and role of religion, during the Insights Forum in Nairobi.  This two-day Forum, organized by Network Partner, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, will convene organizations working with religious actors in preventing and countering violent extremism and peacebuilding sectors across the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa to further provide, “evidence of the impact of working with religious actors to build peaceful and sustainable societies to practitioners and policymakers.”    Ambassador Pekka Metso from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Finland will provide a keynote speech on the first day of the event.

Violent extremist groups in Africa define themselves primarily in religious terms, yet the drivers of violent extremism are much more multifaceted. The research on root causes and push and pull factors of violent extremism shows that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to violent extremism. There is also a notable gap between the perceptions on drivers of violent extremism and the actual drivers identified by the members or former members of violent extremist groups, especially when it comes to the role of religion and the role of religion. Religious identity is often neglected by the western designed PVE interventions and responses to conflicts.

The Network’s session will unveil the misconceptions surrounding the role of religion in violent extremism to identify best strategies to use religion as a positive power to transform violent extremism. It will also explore the ways of overcoming the disconnection between the PVE interventions and the actual drivers of violent extremism.

Utilizing multiple different studies conducted by the Network, evidence shows that the role of religion as a driver of violent extremism cannot be simplified or generalized and needs context specific analysis and responses. While religion is misused by the violent extremist groups to incite violence, it can also be utilized as a positive force to prevent violent extremism through enhancement of religious literacy and tolerance, protection of religious minorities, provision of alternative narratives, theological trainings and religious education.

Click here to view Network studies to be referenced throughout the presentation.


The Insights Forum focuses on collaborating with religious actors to build peaceful and stable societies. It aims to explore shared challenges and recommendations for effective working with religious actors and groups across the P/CVE and peacebuilding and conflict resolution sectors, share best practices, lessons learned, results, and evidence of impact across the spectrum of M&E activities.  In addition, it will gather evidence to inform advocacy, policy and practice across the P/CVE, Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB), and peacebuilding and conflict resolution communities. For more information, please visit: https://institute.global/insights-forum

12 November 2019