To curb the threat of terrorism, the Obama Administration launched an aggressive series of “countering violent extremism” (CVE) conferences and conversations this year. At each turn the United States has emphasized the importance of promoting civil society and human rights protections to counter the recruiting narrative of violent extremists.
But actions speak louder than words.
Key U.S. partners in the fight against violent extremism—Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Kenya, and Nigeria—have human rights records ranging from bad to terrible. Some are promoting the very sectarianism that fuels ISIL and other extremist groups. Some are using counterterrorism operations as a pretext to crush legitimate civil society and peaceful dissent.
The end result is at best counterproductive, at worst destructive.
What can the U.S. government do to execute a coherent strategy to counter violent extremism? How can problematic U.S. partners be convinced to respect and uphold human rights? What would an integrated security and human rights approach to CVE look like?
At the Human Rights Summit, we’ll take on these tough questions and more in a dialogue featuring Editor at Large of The Atlantic Steven Clemons; Dr. Elham Manea, spokesperson for imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi; Ambassador Rick Barton, former Assistant Secretary of State; and Stephen White, formerly the third ranking officer in the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Join us on December 9th at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Register here.