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Development Debates: Can Aid Help Counter Violent Extremism and Terrorism?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 18:00 to 20:00
Oliver Thompson Theatre at City, University of London

People -especially young people -feel entirely trapped in impoverished communities, where there is no order and no path for advancement, where there are no educational opportunities, where there are no ways to support families, and no escape from injustice and the humiliations of corruption -that feeds instability and disorder, and makes those communities ripe for extremist recruitment. […] So if we’re serious about countering violent extremism, we have to get serious about confronting these economic grievances.’  (Obama, February 2015)

On Tuesday 5th December 2017 the fifth debate of the LIDC & The Guardian Development Debate Series will take place asking 'Can Aid Help Counter Violent Extremism and Terrorism?'

Expect interesting speakers, thought provoking discussions and it was an opportunity to network at a drinks reception afterwards. The event will take place at City, University of London.

LIDC has teamed up with The Guardian Development Network to host a series of panel debates on current key issues in international development. Four speakers, comprised of academics from our member colleges, development practitioners, activists and policy-makers will take questions from the audience and discussions will be guided by a moderator.

Event Overview

Between the 1st January and 9th November 2017, 1,038 terrorist attacks took place across the globe leading to 6,656 fatalities.

Increasingly in recent years, Western Governments have turned to aid as a way to prevent violent extremism and terrorism in low and middle-income countries, but can combatting poverty with aid really help counter violent extremism, or are our expectations of what aid can achieve unrealistic?

In 2016 the UN Secretary-General presented a Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism in which he called for an approach that combines security-based counter-terrorism measures with addressing the underlying drivers of radicalization and violent extremism.

The underlying drivers of radicalization include “push” factors such as a lack of socio-economic opportunities, marginalization and discrimination, poor governance and violations of human rights. The “pull” factors include personal backgrounds and identity, distortion of religious beliefs and political ideologies and ethnic difference.

Violent extremism and terrorism pose a significant threat to national and global security, affecting economic growth and civil stability; but can humanitarian and development aid be used to address of the drivers of violent extremism and terrorism? How can we measure and evaluate impact? And where should aid be directed?


(Imam Sheikh Dr) Usama Hasan. Usama is Head of Islamic Studies at Quilliam and was a founding advisor to the organisation in 2008. As a teenager Usama became a radical salafi activist and, whilst still a Cambridge undergraduate, briefly took part (1990-1) in the ‘Jihad’ against Communist forces in Afghanistan. However following the 7/7 bombings in London, Usama took it upon himself to start campaigning against extremism and for religious reform within Muslim circles. See his profile here.

Dr. Sara Silvestri. Sara is Senior Lecturer in International Politics at City, University of London and is in charge of specialist courses on Islamism, religion and politics, and the EU. Sara has directed the Islam in Europe programme at the European Policy Centre (Brussels) and has been a research consultant to the British Council, Ethnobarometer, the European Commission, and the British Government. As an expert on Islam in Europe, religion, and intercultural relations, Sara serves in the advisory board of the British Council's 'Our Shared Future' programme, the ESRC 'Radicalisation Research' portal, and the EuroMediterranean Foundation Anna Lindh. See her profile here.

Dr Farid Panjwani. Farid is Director of the Centre for Research and Evaluation in Muslim Education (CREME) at UCL Institute of Education. The Centre seeks to strengthen education in Muslim contexts along the lines of a research based, progressive and inclusive educational philosophy and Farid is also a member of the National Commission on Religious Education. His research explores interfaces between religion, citizenship and education; role of imagination in education; teaching about Islam in schools; and contemporary Muslim thought. See his profile here.

Lucy Holdaway. Lucy is Senior Peacebuilding Adviser at International Alert, a London based NGO focused on peacebuilding activities. Lucy has been working on peace and security issues since 2005 and has extensive experience of leading projects, research, training and training design in conflict-affected areas, particularly in south and southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Europe. Lucy leads on the development, research and implementation support on our citizen–state approaches to peacebuilding. This includes leading organisational thinking and approaches to programming on violent extremism as well as within the broader development and peacebuilding sector. She works closely with country teams, NGOs and multilaterals to explore the conflict drivers of violent extremism and to challenge and improve current practice on preventing violent extremism. See her profile here.

Moderator: Bibi van der Zee, Editor of The Guardian Global Development Professionals Network. See her profile here.

Registration is required for this event. Details on how to register will be announced shortly.