Unlocking the Strength of Iraqi Cities: Strengthening National-Local Cooperation for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

The European Union Advisory Mission in Iraq, the Strong Cities Network MENA Hub and the National Committee for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) organised a roundtable in Baghdad on 31 May - 1 June 2023 where representatives from local governments including a number of deputy-governors, national agencies, and UN agencies gathered to discuss current P/CVE structures and to explore opportunities for improved collaboration between local-national and local-local authorities in P/CVE.

Iraq launched its first National Strategy to Combat Violent Extremism and Terrorism in 2019, focusing on preventive measures. This strategy aims to address the underlying factors that lead individuals to join violent extremist groups. As part of this effort, the National CVE Committee is working with governorates and districts in sub-committees to implement the CVE National Strategy and associated local action plans developed with support from the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“The National CVE Committee highly appreciates the support to Iraq’s efforts to counter violent extremism conducive to terrorism. This important roundtable which gathered representatives from the Strong Cities Network MENA Hub and a group of local officials and representatives of ministries was extremely useful for defining the next stages of collaboration with the Strong Cities Network, and it will accelerate membership of selected Iraqi cities of the Network in accordance with the priorities of the National CVE Committee.” - Chair of the National Committee for Countering Violent Extremism, Mr Ali Baderi.

EUAM Head of Mission Anders Wiberg highlighted the Government of Iraq’s commitment to prioritising early prevention of extremism as the most effective way of countering terrorism: “Local communities are at the forefront of our global efforts to prevent radicalisation leading to terrorism.”

The Strong Cities MENA Regional Hub will develop practical recommendations based on the dialogue's outcomes. These recommendations will be implemented in partnership with local governments, the central government, and multilateral and civil society organisations.

About the Strong Cities Network

Strong Cities is an independent global network of more than 170 cities and other local governments dedicated to addressing all forms of extremism, hate and polarisation, while promoting a human rights-based prevention framework. Strong Cities facilitates sharing and learning among mayors and other local leaders as well as municipal-level practitioners.

The Strong Cities Network MENA Regional Hub

By channelling support through dedicated Regional Hubs, Strong Cities will offer cities a sustained resource to advance their prevention efforts and leverage the benefits of the global network. In the MENA region, with support from the EU’s Strengthening Resilience to Violence and Extremism (STRIVE) Cities Initiative, Regional Hub experts will work with local governments to identify their relevant needs and priorities, and provide them with the support, resources and access needed to become leaders in prevention, ensuring their perspectives inform relevant national, regional and global policy and programme conversations.

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