The Counter-Narrative Handbook

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) is a London-based ‘think and do tank’ that has pioneered policy and practical approaches to the growing threats of violent extremism and intercommunal conflict. By combining research and analysis with government advisory work and program delivery, ISD has been at the forefront of developing practical, evidence-based answers to integration, extremism, and terrorism, thereby enhancing Europe’s capacity to act successfully in the global arena.

Given the proliferation of violent extremist content online in recent years, developing effective counter-narratives – messages that offer a positive alternative to extremist propaganda or that deconstruct or delegitimize extremist narratives and ideologies – is an increasingly necessary alternative to online censorship.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) developed this Handbook, funded by Public Safety Canada through the Kanishka Project, to assist anyone interested in proactively responding to extremist propaganda through counter-narrative campaigns. It is intended as a beginner’s guide for those with little or no prior experience with counter-narrative campaigning. It walks readers through the critical steps of developing, launching, and assessing an effective counter-narrative campaign. Additionally, it can be utilized in conjunction with ISD’s freely available online Counter-narrative Toolkit, which is accessible at www.counternarratives.org.

Our advice is based on ISD’s experience developing, implementing, and evaluating in-house campaigns such as Extreme Dialogue, as well as collaborating with independent content creators ranging from civil society and non-governmental organization campaigners to young activists in order to amplify their counter-narrative messages through training, networking, and campaign support. As a result, this Handbook focuses on online counter-narrative initiatives led by civil society, youth, or non-governmental organizations.