London – An unprecedented UN report released yesterday has called for the repeal of anti-extremism legislation, policy and programmes, stating that they “have no purchase in international law”, and that they violate human rights.  

The report slams the ‘counter-narratives’ propaganda used by the likes of RICU, as being based on “unproven assumption”, and being ‘counterproductive’ without material transformation of conditions on the ground. This aligns closely with CAGE’s recently published report ‘Beyond Prevent’, that presented a clear 8-point plan to move beyond securitised policies and build a healthy, safe society by focusing on structural and policy changes, to the root causes of violence.

The UN’s bold position comes as efforts to whitewash Prevent and its global counterpart CVE [3] are being taken up by a network of private sector consultants playing to neo-conservative goals and profiting from large scale securitisation.

The UN also said PREVENT/CVE:

  • silences authentic civil society groups, who are being muscled out while groups on the CVE payroll are being propped up in the service of counter-extremism; 
  • are “pursued by governments that recognize the value of the new nomenclature to be directed against those who disagree with them”, thereby targeting human rights defenders; 
  • cynically co-opts women’s “empowerment”, commodifying women and girls to advance its own policy, which “is mendacious and ethically suspect”; 
  • is based on assessment tools like the ERG 22+ and “deradicalisation” programmes that are adopted “without proper appraisal or monitoring”; 
  • is dominated by “private actors, consultants who are self-proclaimed experts influenced by government policies and continue to push “issues that have been scientifically disproven”. 
  • is securitising the role of educators and healthcare workers, undermines trust, and inevitably leads to overselection and overreporting, thus dismantling the governments coveted ‘whole society approach’’ to countering extremism. 
  • use of the term ’extremism’ as a criminal legal category is “is irreconcilable with the principle of legal certainty” and “incompatible with the exercise of certain fundamental human rights.” 



Cerie Bullivant, spokesperson for CAGE, said:

“The United Nations has released a report that vindicates CAGE’s repeated warnings about PREVENT over the years. It highlights that there is little evidence that counter-extremism programmes actually work, and rather that they are profoundly damaging, breaking trust, while inevitably reinforcing discrimination.” 

“The UN report also reclaims the narrative on political violence, reiterating that in the majority of cases of political violence, state sanctioned oppression is the critical event, rather than an ideology or perceived religiosity, as posited by the counter extremist’s ever-expanding and discriminatory checklists.”

“This report is from the international body tasked with the protection of human rights so it must lead to an admission that the policies expanding the security state pose a grave danger, and are against international norms which prohibit the policing of dissent.”


(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)