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




The London International Development Centre (LIDC) has teamed up with The Guardian Global 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. Discussions will be guided by a moderator,and there will be a chance to continue the discussion after the debate at a networking and drinks reception.

City, University of London is delighted to host this debate. City staff and students can become members of LIDC for free and will then gain access to this event for free as well.

Can Aid Help Counter Violent Extremism and Terrorism?

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 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. 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. Lucy leads on the development, research and implementation support on our citizen–state approaches to peacebuilding. 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.

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When & where

6.00pm - 7.30pmTuesday 5th December 2017

Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre Tait Building City, University of London Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB United Kingdom