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Peace Organisations Statement: Europe must prioritise dialogue with armed groups to counter terrorism

Published on Friday, 10 September 2021

A joint statement by peace and conflict resolution organisations emphasises the importance of dialogue as a pragmatic and essential strategy to end conflicts with radical armed groups.

The 20th anniversary of 9/11 is a critical opportunity to rethink Europe’s counter-terrorism strategy. The following decades must prioritise engagement and dialogue for the best chance to stop violence long-term and prevent future conflicts. In addition to preventing violent extremism, we need to invest in tailored peacemaking strategies.

Dialogue as a tool

Peace through dialogue is a core European value. Dialogue with radical armed actors is not a substitute for security and stabilisation strategies. But Europe’s home experience with armed insurgencies teaches that conflicts rarely end without direct and sustained dialogue with those fighting as part of efforts to address the conflict’s political and social roots.

More legal protection needed

The new Concept of EU Peace mediation depends on enabling some direct dialogue with armed groups, but Europe’s growing raft of counter-terrorism laws and proscription regimes have effectively criminalised most engagement with radical groups, which hinders conflict resolution efforts. Peace organisations will need more legal routes to engage with radical armed groups, despite our abhorrence of their tactics.

Peace organisations work together to widen opportunities for dialogue

The peace and conflict resolution organisations commit to working together to promote dialogue-based solutions to radical violence during this next phase of counter-terrorism and conflict resolution strategies. We will collaborate to widen dialogue opportunities where proscribed groups play a dominant role. We will share lessons and resources and advocate for greater protection for peace actors. We will also support community-based actors in conflict zones working to address grievances fuelling radicalised violence.

Donors and partners on board

We invite donors and partners to support direct dialogue as a pragmatic and essential strategy to end conflicts with radical armed groups. We also invite partners to ensure that European counter-terrorism laws recognise the importance of peace dialogue as a benign activity. We also invite donors and partners to establish an inter-governmental mechanism on peace and proscription, in collaboration with expert peace organisations.

You can read the full statement here.