Empowering youth in Palestine to fight online violent extremisms and radicalization

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the media are effective tools in the hands of young people in countering radicalization leading to violent extremism.  UNESCO is supporting the Palestinian Centre for Media, Research and Development to empower young people and build active citizens and community leaders.

A unique project was launched in Hebron on 15 January 2019 under the title “ICT and Media: Efficient Tools for young people to counter extremism“. The project aims to build the capacities of a core group of 120 young man and woman that would act as leaders in promoting the principles of democracy, tolerance but also independent thinking when using new technologies. Young people in Hebron are vulnerable to propaganda and recruitment by radical and extreme groups by using different mediums and tools such as social media.

The project will not only focus on the capacity building of young people in media and information literacy, but also will enable them to produce audiovisual and digital media contents with the message “no hate speech and no to radicalism on the internet”. The digital stories will constitute a counter narrative on violent extremism and will play an important role in raising awareness about the dangers of harmful online content that promotes negative attitudes and violence.

The project implementation is based on UNESCO’s guidelines developed for teachers by the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Role Activation (PYALRA), Deutche Welle Akademie and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. Similar media and information literacy initiatives fighting online radicalization were implemented in Palestine through the UNESCO Office in Ramallah. The materials for the IFAP supported initiative have been adapted to address the specific needs of the local context. Thus, for instance, Adham, a 22 years old senior media student at Hebron University pointed out that during this project, “I acquired different skills that enabled me to think in an independent and positive way and take decisions without external effects that my family and the society used to impose on us. I also became more prepared to take initiatives for any useful humanitarian action, using the media as a tool”.

UNESCO plays an active role to assist Member States in developing more effective strategies to prevent violent extremism. UNESCO has committed itself to the United Nations Secretary-General's Action Plan for the Prevention of Violent Extremism, focusing on priorities of direct relevance to UNESCO's action such as education, skills development, youth empowerment and the Internet and social media. The Information for All Programme (IFAP) has played a crucial role in initiating and facilitating policy dialogue on the issue of online radicalization leading to violent extremism. The project in Palestine is part of a series of pilot projects worldwide, as an increased mobilization is still required for preventing successfully violent extremism and radicalization of youth through the reinforcement of the existing multi-stakeholders partnerships and the development of adapted policies and competences.