In November 2018, RESOLVE launched a new research and convening project to identify solutions to violent extremism in the Western Balkans. In partnership with the Bureau for Conflict and Stabilization Operations of the U.S. Department of State and through collaboration with regional organizations, the Western Balkans Initiative will provide stakeholders new insights from the expanse of existing research and from new locally sourced analysis on the dynamics of violent extremism. The project aims to increase collaboration and elevate regional understandings of violent extremist threats and vulnerabilities, building upon existing networks and initiatives already active in the region.
Amidst the evolving threat of violent extremism worldwide, the Western Balkans faces substantial challenges to social cohesion and stability. Narratives of religious, far right, and nationalist militancy resonate profoundly with vulnerable youth populations in Western Balkan countries where a history of ethnic, religious, and civil strife has created a situation vulnerable to terrorist recruitment at home and abroad. Individuals that traveled to fight alongside violent extremist organizations abroad are returning to their home countries following the territorial losses of extremist groups in Syria and Iraq. Home-grown extremist threats continue to gain traction and grow. A greater evidence-based understanding of the evolving dynamics in the Western Balkans is needed to design proactive, collaborative, and effective policy and practice aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) across the region.