The Role of Human Rights in Countering Violent Extremism


On the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting, the United States is sponsoring briefings and meetings with allies to develop strategies to counter the spread of violent extremism. These activities will build on the February 2015 White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism (CVE). The CVE initiative is designed to advance a more preventive and proactive approach to countering violent extremism. It takes into account the lesson of the past decade that addressing the threat of violent extremism requires a truly comprehensive strategy that goes beyond military intelligence and law-enforcement tools.

The United States government has played a leading role in moving forward a global conversation on countering violent extremism since convening the White House Summit. If this process is to yield results, the United States will have to continue to provide leadership in close coordination with the efforts of the United Nations and other multilateral organizations, notably the U.N. Secretary General’s Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism to be presented to the U.N. General Assembly later this year.

While sustained U.S. engagement with this multilateral process will be essential, just as important will be a clear demonstration from the United States that it is putting the principles of its CVE approach into practice. The United States must show its commitment to the principles it has been championing through its more comprehensive, preventive CVE strategy in each of its bilateral relationships, particularly those with states facing challenges from the threat of terrorism, which also engage in systematic violations of human rights. It is no accident that these two conditions often coincide.

This blueprint brings together examples of existing bilateral relationships with some U.S. allies that fit this category. The material collected here illustrates the vital importance for the United States to encourage its allies to implement security policies rooted in the reality that good governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights are essential tools in countering violent extremism.

This blueprint compiles and summarizes previous Human Rights First blueprints. For more information on a specific topic or country, please refer to the following documents: How to Conduct Effective Counterterrorism that Reinforces Human Rights (December 2014); How to Bring Stability to Bahrain (December 2014); How to Prevent Egypt Slipping into a Deepening Crisis (December 2014); How to Build a More Sustainable and Mutually Beneficial Relationship with Saudi Arabia (March 2015); How to Counter Terrorism by Supporting Civil Society in the United Arab Emirates (May 2015); How the United States Can Help Counter Violent Extremism and Support Civil Society in Kenya (July 2015).


Published on September 25, 2015


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