Sarah Lazare – How Draconian Programs to ‘Counter Violent Extremism’ Are Eroding Human Freedoms Across the World

A United Nations official is warning that worldwide programs to counter and prevent violent extremism rely on discredited theories of radicalization, and elusive definitions of terrorism, to implement intrusive state measures that stigmatize entire ethnic, religious and indigenous groups.

Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, concluded in a recent report [3] to the Human Rights Council that such strategies threaten the most fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Despite these dangers, preventing violent extremism initiatives have proliferated across the globe, “often characterized as the ‘soft’ cousin of counter-terrorism initiatives,” notes Emmerson. In January, the UN Secretary-General released a plan of action, following a resolution passed in 2014 by the Security Council. The European Union has a region-wide strategy, and numerous states have taken up such programs.

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