A wide range of research experts will gather at Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, on 17 and 18 September to attend a conference on Preventing Violent Radicalisation.
Participants will discuss the prevention of violent radicalisation from the point of view of research, practical experiences and the work of public authorities. According to a press release by the Ministry of the Interior, the aim of the conference is to hear and share experiences of the work carried out so far and to examine how to further increase its effectiveness.
According to the definition used by the Ministry of the Interior, violent radicalisation and extremism refer to using violence, threatening with it or encouraging or justifying it on the basis of one’s own view of the world, or on ideological grounds. Violent radicalisation may lead to individuals joining violent extremist groups and, at its most extreme, can result in terrorist acts.
Risks rising and new threats in Finland
In Finland, the risk of violent radicalisation and extremism is still small in comparison with many other countries. However, the threat has been on the increase in recent years, the Government admits.
"The danger of violent radicalisation has grown, as the field has undergone changes. New threats have emerged alongside the existing ones. Violent right-wing extremism has gained in strength, and terrorist propaganda and punishable hate speech are spreading online. Preventive measures must constantly be enhanced to anticipate such new threats. This conference will take stock of the work done so far, looking at it from different angles, to have an idea of where we are now in the prevention of violent radicalisation and how we could further intensify our efforts," says Head of Development Tarja Mankkinen from the Ministry of the Interior.
A priority for Finland’s Presidency
During its Presidency of the EU Council, Finland intends to promote dialogue around violent radicalisation and combating terrorism in an effort to support the fight against terrorism through preventive work.
Helsinki authorities believe the best way to counter terrorism is "through preventive efforts", because -they said- "prevention is always more effective than trying to cure the consequences". The repercussions of a terrorist attack always exceed the individual deed: they have a wide-ranging impact on the entire society, on public safety and people’s sense of security.
The European Commission supports the efforts to prevent violent radicalisation. It has set up a group of experts focusing on prevention, and financial support for this work has also increased considerably in recent years.
Cooperation between EU countries
Due to the cross-border nature of violent radicalisation and extremism, preventive work takes place both locally, nationally and internationally. Through international cooperation, new, emergent threats can be identified. Member States can also exchange information on the experiences and best practices of other countries and have an exchange of views on preventive measures.
"This conference will consider how the different actors -the EU, public authorities, researchers, religious communities and CSOs- can work together, learning and getting support from each other," Mankkinen says.
The Ministry of the Interior has sent invitations for this event to stakeholders from all EU Member States, including CSO representatives, experts, researchers and public authorities. Representatives from the European Commission, the General Secretariat of the Council, the European Strategic Communication Network (ESCN) and the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) will also participate.