New UNESCO-PREV report examines the role of program evaluations in extremism prevention efforts

Report title page

A new UNESCO-PREV report, titled Constraints and opportunities in evaluating programs for prevention of violent extremism: How practitioners see it, is now available to the public. Co-authored by David Morin, co-chair of UNESCO-PREV, Pierre-Alain Clément and Pablo Madriaza, the report analyzes the experiences of professionals and practitioners working in Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) when it comes to the evaluation of their work. Drawing on interviews conducted by the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC) and the results of a focus group conducted by the chair’s Ottawa counterpart, the study analyzes testimonies from a total of 57 professionals from around the world. 

The report begins from the observation that there is a lack of “rigorously defined conceptual and empirical foundations” to most PVE programs. As a result, the authors observe, stakeholders have little evidence-based data and guidelines to rely on when designing, implementing and funding programs aimed at countering violent extremism. Program evaluations are an important way of addressing this issue. As the authors observe, “evaluations can provide a better understanding of the mechanisms and processes that make programs succeed or fail.” 

Yet at the same time, they note that practitioners often perceive program evaluations as a constraint, given that their work is not exactly suited to “tightly scheduled evaluations that use traditional performance indicators.” This interplay between the opportunities and constraints posed by evaluations, and the question of how said constraints are to be resolved, makes up the bulk of the report. As the first step in a larger project on evaluation of prevention practices, the report will no doubt serve as a crucial resource for future developments in the field.

Read the report.