Exploring the Relationship between the Rule of Law and Violent Extremism in the Middle East

June 1, 2016

June 3, 2016

Dubai, United Arab Emirates


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Symposium Summary

The discussion on countering violent extremism has gained increasing importance in the public discourse in many countries in recent years. While it is increasingly clear that a state’s lack of adherence to rule of law principles can foment grievances that may contribute to violent extremism, the relationship of violent extremism to the rule of law has not been adequately addressed. Recognizing that many factors contribute to violent extremism of individuals, a state’s robust adherence to the rule of law can help to provide a pathway to defuse grievances and avoid violence. As self-evident as this relationship might seem, few discussions have focused on the relationship between the rule of law and violent extremism and how these affect one another.

This invitation-only, workshop-style symposium sought to examine how institutions—particularly those charged with upholding the rule of law—can contribute to the kinds of grievances that are associated with violent extremism. The symposium also examined avenues for constructive institutional reform within the context of violent extremism. Participants considered how injustices, both large and small, can feed into violent extremist narratives and how more inclusive approaches towards governance may increase public trust. Finally, the participants focused on the unique issues faced by vulnerable populations in the Middle East, including the need for greater accountability and the protection of human dignity.

Composed of experts and stakeholders from the Middle East and beyond, the symposium generated specific recommendations for reform from thematic Working Groups that addressed current themes impacting the rule of law and countering violent extremism.

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