Transforming violent extremism recognizes that while violent extremism exists, the reasons and motivators leading to an individual being drawn to violent extremist movements can be transformed into a different type of agency or engagement. This is distinct from countering violent extremism which is reactive to extremist violence rather than aimed at altering the dynamics that motivate it.
In developing this guide, Search for Common Ground has drawn on three decades of experience in transforming violent conflict in communities plagued by many of the same dynamics underlying violent extremism: frustration with weak, corrupt, or illegitimate governance, marginalization, fractured relationships, lack of voice and opportunity, and struggles with diversity. This experience gives us tangible insight into building communities that are resilient to the pull of violent extremist groups. They also aid in early detection, thus helping to prevent violent extremism before it happens. Our goal is to offer questions, insights, and general guidance to peacebuilders and policy-makers who are stepping into this nuanced space while highlighting the value of peacebuilding practices in what has become an overly security-driven and militarized field.