Skip to main content



Prevention of Violent Extremism



A joint project of DCAF and the Human Security Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), in collaboration with the Centre for Advanced Defence and Security Studies (CHEDS) in Senegal

In recent years, Africa has witnessed new waves of violent extremism that have taken the lives of many people. While violent extremism requires interventions to protect the security of people and assets, prevention of violent extremism (PVE) needs to look beyond strict security concerns to political, economic, social and cultural causes of the violence, and provide solutions along the lines of a human-centred security, whilst addressing grievances and public governance deficit at the heart of the phenomenon. Defence and Security Forces (DSF) have a central role to play in the State response, both in the repressive dimension and in the preventive dimension. The latter is however far less developed and needs sound bases to be strengthened.

This challenge has been part of the initiative of the "Regional Conversations for the Prevention of Violent Extremism"1  launched in 2016 by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). Together with the Centre for Advanced Defence and Security Studies (CHEDS) in Senegal, the Swiss FDFA has undertaken to facilitate a dialogue with DSF from West and Central Africa on how to approach this challenge, from the point of view of their mandate, preparedness and relation to public policies as designed by political decision makers.

The present project builds on that process and intends to bring a more systematic knowledge basis on which to pursue that on-going dialogue. A unique and innovative aspect of this project is the tripartite, joint venture between the Swiss Human Security Division of the FDFA, CHEDS in Senegal, and DCAF, as a way to enlarge and consolidate this effort.

Project objectives:

The project specifically aims to review and assess the conceptual, political, legislative and operational frameworks for the engagement of DSF in PVE in nine countries in West and Central Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Central Africa Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Togo and Senegal. Based on a comparative analysis, it will also draw key lessons and recommendations for the continuation of the dialogue with DSF facilitated by the Swiss FDFA and CHEDS. Through an extensive and inclusive consultative process, this project helps improving the knowledge about how much this prevention approach is a reality in the DSF mandates and actions, and helps identifying the existing policy, operational and capabilities gaps for DSF to undertake that role. It is helping to develop targeted political prevention strategies and a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon, through the comparative analysis of approaches and experiences in particular. This serves to foster the on-going dialogue on reviewing and adapting policies, standards and good practices to ensure they firmly establish that preventative dimension and are effectively implemented by DSF.

The project contributes to West and Central African DSF enhancing their role and responsibility in PVE, to learn from the experiences of individual countries under consideration and to take stock of the needs, obstacles or useful practices brought to light by policies or texts underpinning their engagement to PVE. This analytic and comparative approach stimulates exchanges through the organisation of roundtables at the national level, and the future CHEDS and HSD/FDFA meetings as part the a.m. Regional Conversations for PVE initiative.

Project financed by: the Human Security Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), with a contribution of the DCAF and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Project implementation dates: November 2019 - April 2021.

Biographies: a team of regional and national consultants is mobilised and working alongside the core team of DCAF, Swiss HSD/FDFA and CHEDS experts. Read their biographies here


The Regional Conversations for PVE are an initiative launched in 2016 by Switzerland, with currently about ten partners. More than 20 meetings (Dakar, N’Djamena, Algiers, Abidjan, Ouagadougou, Yaoundé, Bangui, but also New York and Geneva) have taken place so far, involving more than 1,000 personalities from North, West and Central Africa, mobilised for strengthening the prevention agenda. It functions as a regional and informal dialogue space to strengthen the appropriation of prevention tools, the links between political decision-makers and other actors, and to promote good practices in the region in terms of PVE.

Key Resources

Prevention of violent extremism in West and Central Africa (EN) (FR)

PVE project presentation factsheet (EN) (FR

Regional conversations compilation (FR/EN)