The Tech Against Terrorism Initiative was invited to participated in the UNODC and the People of Japan’s (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) Regional Workshop held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on 13-15 March 2018. The workshop focused on “Civil Society and Prevention of Violent Extremism: Key Issues”, and brought together government officials and representatives of civil society groups from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan with international experts to discuss Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PVE and CVE) best practices.

During the three-day conference, participants discussed partnerships between governments and civil society, building effective PVE campaigns, the role of women and youth in PVE initiatives, and developing counter-narrative campaigns. International experts from the USA, the UK, Sweden  and Japan provided local participants with international best practices on building effective PVE initiatives and provided case studies of offline and online campaigns. Civil society organisations operating in each of the Central Asia countries presented their community initiatives.

The Tech Against Terrorism Initiative presented on the final day of the conference in the session on “Developing counter-narratives”. Tech Against Terrorism delivered an overview on our research into terrorist exploitation of technology, how terrorists build narratives online, and provided examples of the narratives and tech platforms that terrorist groups have used to engage a Central Asian audience. Our research has found that a significant proportion of terrorist propaganda found online is located on micro-platforms (pasting sites, file-sharing sites, content storage), and so there is need for online counter-narrative campaigns to target these mediums of narrative dissemination.

Tech Against Terrorism provided participants from civil society organisations with best practices for strategies in developing counter-narratives, and recommendations for resources. These included practical steps to take to improve digital literacy and security (including online tutorials) and online resources that outline the effectiveness of past online counter-narrative campaigns. Often these resources are freely available to civil society organisations. For States, Tech Against Terrorism recommends that government organisations facilitate future events to bring together all stakeholders, including law enforcement, civil society, P/CVE practitioners, terrorist researchers, and  tech companies.

The Tech Against Terrorism initiative thanks the UNDOC and the People of Japan for our participation in this engaging conference.