There has been growing concern that violent extremism and terrorism undermines peace, stability and development in Bangladesh. The macro environment, including socioeconomic conditions, governance challenges and democratic deficit, is exploited by radical movements posing a threat to security. Such trends exacerbate various manifestations of conflict- political, communal, economic and social- prevalent in society. This calls for a study of violent extremism and terrorism within the framework of conflict, law and development for a more comprehensive understanding of cause, trends and impacts..

In this backdrop, Institute of Conflict, Law and Development Studies (ICLDS) was established as an independent and non-political think-tank focusing on conflict analysis and resolution in 2014 with a vision to develop secure and peaceful societies. It will serve as a research and advocacy centre to share knowledge, experience and expertise on conflict at the local, regional and international levels.  In particular, the think-tank will examine the proliferation of violent extremism, including the role of political complicity, financial patronage and radical ideology impeding political stability, social cohesion and religious tolerance.

In January 2014, the Tenth General Election in Bangladesh was held amidst escalating violence and terrorism. In the lead up to the election, violence characterized by street fights between political parties had taken the shape of bomb explosions and arson carried out by a section of opposition political parties and religious extremist groups targeting security forces, political opponents and general population. Over 504 were killed and 22,407 injured in 2013 compared to 169 people being killed and 17,161 injured in 2012.

“The Threat of Terrorism and Bangladesh” (February 2014): In February 2014, we organized our first national-level roundtable on “The Threat of Terrorism and Bangladesh” under the banner of the Bangladesh Centre for Peace and Development (BCPD).  This was the first major public discussion bringing together leading security experts, political leaders and civil society members amidst growing concerns on violent extremism and terrorism that gave new impetus to the organization. BCPD was subsequently renamed as ICLDS recognizing the intertwined nature of conflict, law and development for more comprehensive understanding of security threats in society.

“Bangladesh-India Relations” (May 2014): In May 2014, the newly reconstituted ICLDS organized a regional roundtable on the future course of Bangladesh-India relationship in the wake of change of government in India. The roundtable brought together national and regional experts, including Indian experts Major General (Retd) Dipankar Banajee, Kuldip Nayar and Mahendra Ved. Former High Commissioners of India to Bangladesh Veena Sikri and Deb Mukharjee were connected through videoconferencing.

“The Rule of Law, Role of Law Enforcement Agency and Recent Thoughts” (May 2014): In May 2014, ICLDS organized a roundtable on “The Rule of Law, Role of Law Enforcement Agency and Recent Thoughts” discussing the overall security situation, including providing recommendations for improving law and order, strengthening the rule of law and reforming law enforcement agencies. The roundtable brought together leading security experts, political leaders and civil society members, including human rights activists and lawyers.

“Dialogue Against Terrorism” (February 2015): In February 2015, ICLDS organized a roundtable on “Dialogue Against Terrorism” amidst renewed violence and terrorism orchestrated by a section of opposition political parties and religious extremist groups. Over 60 people were killed in the first two months of violence, including hundreds of people being burned in bomb and arson attacks targeting common people. The roundtable brought together leading security experts, political leaders and civil society members to strengthen community role and response against violent extremism and terrorism undermining peace and stability.

ICLDS Chairman, Executive Director and Directors have participated in high-level meetings with policymakers, diplomats, experts, academics, researchers and civil society members at the local, regional and national level to share knowledge on security issues.

Research and Survey: In its formative stage, ICLDS is conducting in-house research and surveys to understand security trends impacting upon the political, social and economic environment of Bangladesh. The think-tank is methodically tracking violent extremism and terrorist movements, including their membership, organization and ideology.  We are also looking at changes in social denominators to understand how security is being shaped within the framework of security conflict, law and development in society.

Public Advocacy: Our members have disseminated our findings through public commentary in the print and electronic media, as well as academic and research seminars hosted by national and regional institutions. Directors have published over 100 op-eds in leading newspapers and participated in over 300 talk shows.

Website and Social Media: ICLDs has launched a website detailing our organization and activities. We have also set up a presence in social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to disseminate our research and analysis on local, regional and international conflict to a wider audience. We aim this website to be an interactive platform for communication with a global audience.

Conflict and Terror Portal: The ICLDS team is currently working on launching Bangladesh’s first Conflict and Terror Portal tracking day-to-day developments related to violent extremism and terrorism in Bangladesh. This website will also track and monitor local and regional radical and terrorism in Bangladesh.


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