Following a detailed, year-long inquiry the British Council All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has today published a ground-breaking report on violent extremism, recommending methods of tackling extremist ideology and defeating extremist groups.

The British Council APPG’s Building Young People’s Resilience to Violent Extremism Inquiry has concluded that tackling extremism overseas must take place at its source, by confronting fundamental factors which increase people’s susceptibility to extremist ideology: economic problems, civic problems and social factors. 

The inquiry found that the effect of promoting projects which build skills and support economic growth, encourage civic behaviour and strengthen community ties among young people can significantly counteract the underlying environment in which extremism is currently able to flourish.

The reports goes on to suggest that while direct intervention by military and security services continues to play an important role, the long-term defeat of radical groups lies with non-military and soft power means.  The full report is available here.

APPG inquiry chairman David Warburton MP said: “Military action and the work of the security services has been vital in combating extremism, but, with ISIS militarily defeated, the time has come to consider the UK’s long-term approach to ensure such ideologies cannot take root again. We need to learn lessons from how extremist groups such as ISIS gained such traction in a short amount of time.”

The inquiry has encompassed programmes operating in the Middle East and North Africa aimed at strengthening young people’s resilience, the rule of law and civil society; democratic accountability and good governance; connecting policymakers with young people and other marginalised groups; and promoting debate and dialogue.

The report recommends that organisations carrying out this work, including the British Council, collaborate to build a joint base of evidence about its impact. Additionally it proposes that the UK government work with the British Council to scale up its cultural, educational and civil society programmes in the Middle East and North Africa region, as such approaches help tackle the factors associated with the development of violent extremism.

The Chief Executive of the British Council, Sir Ciarán Devane said: “Every day in our work around the world we see the power that educational, cultural and civil society programmes have. They have the ability to engage young people, build their confidence in themselves, their trust in others and their resilience in adversity. 

“This report underlines the potential these approaches have for reaching out to some of the most marginalised young people, building trust among them, and tackling one of the gravest security challenges of our times. 

“The emerging evidence here shows that well-targeted and resourced interventions can help build young people’s resilience and provide them with positive alternatives to the calls to violence of extremist recruiters.” 


Notes to Editors:

Full report available at:

The British Council APPG

The British Council All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) is a cross-party group of Members of the House of Commons and Members of the House of Lords who have an interest in the work of the British Council.It is formally independent of the British Council and reaches its own decisions on policy issues. The British Council supports the work of the APPG through providing its secretariat. In this role it takes direction from the APPG’s chairs and organises meetings and events according to the group’s agenda. The inquiry forms part of this agenda and the British Council will support the inquiry through organising meetings and performing other secretariat duties as required. 

Building Young People’s Resilience to Violent Extremism Inquiry

The inquiry has gathered evidence of action to build young people’s resilience to violent extremism, and tackling some of the drivers of violent extremism as set out in the UN’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. The inquiry focussed primarily on those underlying drivers of violent extremism against which cultural relations programmes in areas such as education, skills, civil society, and culture can have a meaningful role to play in building resilience. For a list of witnesses and published evidence: 

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 65 million people directly and 731 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.