Building peace in the minds of men and women

Prevention of Violent Extremism through Youth Empowerment in Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia

The Project


Violence extremism is the use of violence, in line with an ideological commitment to achieve political, religious, or social goals. PVE measures aim to create an environment where people can be in control of their own lives, free from manipulation by violence, propaganda, and hate speech. Violent extremism is a fundamental social problem, which calls for social solutions where everyone is a stakeholder.

While young women and men in the beneficiary countries seek opportunities to invest their potential, they are often negatively affected by poverty, marginalization, unemployment and under-employment, and often find themselves lacking the necessary literacy, capabilities, and skills to overcome these issues. This makes them a vulnerable target of recruitment by violent extremist groups that exploit their frustrations and vulnerability. Paradoxically, the potential, self-confidence and motivation of youth to change the world for the better can also have the strongest impact against violent extremism.

UNESCO takes a proactive approach to preventing violent extremism by placing emphasis on human rights and open communication in order to prevent and combat the hatred and ignorance that fuels violent extremism. By empowering young women and men to be change-makers in their own communities, UNESCO is actively working towards the promotion of understanding, tolerance and peace.



We young people are only called up when it’s time to wave flags or put up posters. When we want to share proposals they don’t take us into account and when we voice criticism we are sidelined.” (Central America)

Progress Study, p. 12

Violent extremism threatens the security and fundamental rights of citizens all over the world, and undermines the attempts of many countries to achieve sustainable peace. Many violent extremists work by recruiting disenfranchised youth and inciting them to commit acts of violence.

This project focuses on youth empowerment because we believe that nurturing their resilience will prevent their involvement in violent extremism and instead transform them into agents of positive change. We will provide a framework for action that will mobilize UNESCO at multiple levels to empower young women and men with the values, knowledge, capacities and skills to hold exchanges, communicate online/offline and cooperate across social and cultural boundaries. In doing so, we hope to enable young women and men to become responsible citizens, resilient to any form of abuse or manipulation, including violent extremism, and to mobilize critical thinking to counter them.



Youth shouldn’t be on the table, but around the table.” (Youth in the West and Central Africa consultation)

- Progress Study, p. 11

Youth are both partners and beneficiaries in this project, particularly young women and men who are actively engaged in peacebuilding activities and working to safeguard cultural heritage, diversity, and human rights.

Other key partners include media institutions, education stakeholders and policymakers, religious entities, and other practitioners trained to facilitate roles for enhancing global citizenship and peace.

The participatory process that the project intends to adopt from the outset, and throughout the process, is crucial to ensuring ownership of the project by key stakeholders and beneficiary groups, including national and local authorities responsible for youth issues, as well as youth-led and youth-focused organizations at local and national levels.



Jordan / Libya / Morocco / Tunisia



This project adopts an inclusive, multi-sectoral approach across youth, education, culture, and communication and information. The objective is to create an environment where young women and men are empowered, heard and engaged as change-makers in their immediate communities to prevent violent extremism by:

  • Equipping youth with values, attitudes, knowledge and skills
  • Promoting exchange, communication and cooperation beyond social, cultural and linguistic boundaries
  • Supporting youth civic engagement
  • Encouraging participation in peacebuilding
  • Promoting human rights and intercultural understanding


  1. Young women and men and key youth stakeholders become key actors in preventing and countering violent extremism
  2. Prevention of violent extremism is mainstreamed through formal, non-formal and informal education, and the education sector and other relevant/related sectors of society contribute fully to national strategies to prevent violent extremism
  3. Mobilization of and cooperation between media professionals and online youth communities are strengthened to combat radicalization and online hate speech
  4. Safeguarding cultural heritage and promotion of cultural diversity to mainstream a culture of citizenship and human rights in communities, and their critical roles as global citizens and contributors to a sustained peace.