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Youth work fight back the Violent Extremism, 15-16. 2018.

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Forum MNE organized regional conference „Youth work fight back the Violent Extremism“ on 15-16th February in Podgorica. The conference was organized in partnership with DamaD from Serbia; PRONI Center for Youth Work from Bosnia and Herzegovina; IDM Institute for Democracy and Mediation from Albania; FIQ Forum for Civic Initiatives from Kosovo and SEGA Coalition of youth organizations from Macedonia.

The aim of the conference was to identify effective practices in youth work that would contribute to the prevention of violent extremism among young people in the region.  The conference gathered representatives from public administration, civil society and media from six Western Balkan countries.

The first panel was dedicated to the concept of violent extremis, its historical development and modern forms present today. Representatives of the academic community emphasized the importance of engaging  a number of disciplines to combat this problem.  According to Mrs. Svetlana Stanarevic from the Faculty of Security BU, University of Belgrade, it is necessary to gather data from disciplines like sociology, psychology, communication studies, as well as history and many others, and that only an interdisciplinary approach can contribute to solving the problem of violent extremis.  According to the Mr. Alexander Van Leuven from KULeuven University from Belgium, institutions are the factor that contributes to the rebuilding of broken social trust and thus a the starting point for building an effective system for combating violent extremism. After the theoretical concept of the violent extremism and its prevention, the rest of the day was dedicated to identifying drivers of the VE as well as the discussion about existing national and regional initiatives for combating and preventing VE.

The last session of the first day was dedicated to the testimony of Esad Kundakovic from Novi Pazar, whose son died on the battlefield in Syria.  He talked about  the importance of direct work with young people and how important it is to be there for our children and for the youth in our community in general. According to him, listening to the needs and thoughts of our youth are crucial in the process of not making our youth feel neglected which is a good base for early identification of radical ideas and development of violent practices.

During the second day of the conference, participants continued to discuss about the role of youth work in the fight against violent extremism, about the role that civil society organizations, and especially youth workers, have in this process. The last session of the conference was dedicated to the process of designing joint recommendations towards national institutions, civil society and international organizations. The recommendations are to be forwarded to the relevant institutions and advocated within the future period. 

The regional conference “Youth work fights back violent extremism” is part of the project Youth Resilience to Radical and Extreme Behaviors financially supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.