Preventing and addressing violent extremism through community resilience in the Balkans and MENA


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The comparative research project examines root causes and driving factors of violent extremism in local communities across seven countries in the MENA and Balkans.

Timeframe: 2020 - 2023

The EU research project PAVE (Preventing and Addressing Violent Extremism through Community Resilience in the Balkans and MENA) aims to tackle the global issue of radicalisation by examining its root causes and driving factors. Based on a comparative assessment of local communities with features of vulnerability or resilience to violent extremism across seven case study countries, 13 international partner institutions will develop concrete policy proposals to inform citizens and stakeholders within and beyond the regions under study. Over the next three years, the consortium will receive EUR 3 million funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.

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Based on an interdisciplinary, participatory and inter-regional approach, the main objectives of PAVE are:

  • advance evidence-based knowledge on violent extremism in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as well as the Western Balkans beyond the state-of-the-art, and
  • strengthen the capacity of policy-makers and community leaders and support multi-stakeholder exchange for an effective prevention of violent extremism between the European Union and its neighbours.

To achieve these objectives PAVE will conduct comprehensive analysis on the drivers and contexts of violent extremism at the interface between religion, politics and identity, with a specific focus on factors of community vulnerability to ideological and behavioural patterns of radicalisation. PAVE will also assess the relevance and effectiveness of preventive initiatives against violent extremism, with a specific focus on measures to enhance community resilience.

The four thematic areas of investigation are:

  • interface between religious, political and ethnic/sectarian extremisms
  • interaction between religious and state institutions
  • on- and offline narratives and (de-)radicalisation
  • transnational interactions, including impact on and from Europe.

The empirical enquiry will encompass in-depth case study research in selected municipalities in four Balkan countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia) and three MENA countries (Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia); intra-regional comparative analysis; and cross-regional comparative especially talking into consideration effects on European Security.

The project will seek to enhance participatory knowledge co-creation through a collaborative research design. Fieldwork and case studies will be led (jointly or in tandem) by universities or think tanks located in each of the respective countries, and by external academic institutions with thematic and regional expertise. Additionally, to ensure that the project corresponds to local needs, security practitioners, policy-makers, community (e.g. religious) leaders, civil society representatives and those working with at-risk groups will be involved from early stages of the research endeavour. Regular stakeholder committees will be convened in each fieldwork country in order to engage key social actors throughout the project. EU and European policy-makers will also be addressed through policy dissemination events in Brussels and EU project partner countries.

The empirical field research will combine qualitative and quantitative methods, including: key informant interviews and focus group discussions, discourse analysis of social media data, social network cluster analysis, community surveys and statistical analysis, Geographic Information System (GIS) risk assessment tools, and a randomised field experiment.

Finally, the project will develop evidence-based tools and guidelines for policy and practitioner audiences such as community stakeholders (religious leaders, mayors, educators, civil society organisations, women and youth), policy-makers and wider public in the EU, MENA and the Balkans. It will do so by designing an interactive risk map spanning across three regions and a toolkit of cross-regional vulnerability/resilience factors, online open access training modules for capacity building and teaching (e.g. on how to use religious traditions against extremists’ narratives), and policy guidelines for multi-stakeholder engagement in preventive policies at the community level.

Partners and funding

The project consortium consists of the following partner organisations:

  • European Research and Project Office GmbH (Germany)
  • Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (France)
  • Uppsala University (Sweden)
  • Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)
  • Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (Greece)
  • Finn Church Aid (Finland)
  • Fundación Euroárabe de Altos Estudios (Spain)
  • University of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • Kosovo Centre for Security Studies (Kosovo)
  • American University of Beirut (Lebanon)
  • Sfax University (Tunisia)
  • Open Think Tank (Iraq)

This project is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement 870769.

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Project lead

Véronique Dudouet
Senior Advisor
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Team members

Karin Göldner-Ebenthal
Johanna-Maria Hülzer


Media contact

Florian Lüdtke
Media and Communications Manager
+49 (0) 177 7052758
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