Institute for Strategic Dialogue

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Institute for Strategic Dialogue
Formation2006; 17 years ago (2006)
FounderSasha Havlicek, George Weidenfeld
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom
Sasha Havlicek
Managing Director
Arabella Phillimore
Key people
Rashad Ali, Zahed Amanullah, Moustafa Ayad, Kelsey Bjornsgaard, Milo Comerford, Jiore Craig, Jacob Davey, Julia Ebner, Aoife Gallagher, Jakob Guhl, Jared Holt, Katherine Keneally, Jennie King, Ciaran O'Connor, C. Dixon Osburn, Lucie Parker, Melanie Smith, Tim Squirrell, Elise Thomas, Henry Tuck, Huberta von Voss
£7m GBP[citation needed]

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) is a think tank[1] founded in 2006 by Sasha Havlicek and George Weidenfeld that gives policy advice and publishes articles on hate, extremism, and disinformation. It is headquartered in London, United Kingdom.


Be Internet Citizens billboard in the London Underground

ISD’s core activities range from traditional research output and policy advice to the facilitation of youth and practitioner networks and the development of counternarrative and technological tools to combat extremism.[2] More recently, ISD has researched misinformation and disinformation involving climate change,[3] public health,[4] election integrity,[5] and conspiracy networks such as QAnon.[6]

ISD partners with a number of Western governments, including agencies in Canada,[7] Norway,[8] the Netherlands,[9] Germany, the United Kingdom,[10] New Zealand,[11] Australia, the United States,[12] and the European Commission.[13] It also works on funded projects with technology companies and organizations such as Google,[14] Microsoft,[15] Meta,[16] and the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.[17]

Other institutional partners include the Global Disinformation Index,[18] the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society,[19] Institut Montaigne,[20] the British Council,[21] and the German Marshall Fund.[22]

Funding for the ISD has come from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,[23] the Omidyar Network,[24] the Gen Next Foundation,[25] and the Open Society Foundation.[26]


Sasha Havlicek speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., with Evan Ryan, Farah Pandith and Juan Zarate, June, 2015

ISD was founded in 2006 as an extension of the Club of Three,[27] a strategic networking organization founded in 1996 by George Weidenfeld that focused on high-level engagement[clarification needed] between Europe and the world.[28] ISD originally focused on social cohesion[29] and radicalization following a rise of far-right and Islamist extremism in Europe. ISD later hosted the Against Violent Extremism network shortly after it was founded in 2011 in Dublin, Ireland, promoting engagement with former violent extremists as a way of understanding how extremist movements work.[30]

By 2012, ISD was working with social media platforms such as YouTube to explore radicalization online,[31] including research on the use of counternarratives[32] to minimize the impact of extremist recruitment by groups such as ISIS,[33] Al Qaeda,[34] and white supremacists[35] in Europe and North America. This work later expanded to include recruitment and disruption efforts by state actors[36] and conspiracy theorists[37] during the COVID-19 pandemic.[38] Much of this activity was found to be amplified during regional and national elections,[39] leading to new research on election disruption in countries such as Germany,[40] Sweden,[41] France,[42] Italy,[43] Kenya,[44] and the United States.[45] ISD's analysis of the January 6th United States Capitol attack was chosen for inclusion in the Library of Congress.[46]


Launch of the Strong Cities Network at the United Nations General Assembly with Zeid bin Raad al Hussein, Bill de Blasio, Loretta Lynch, and Sasha Havlicek, September 2015
  • Business Council for Democracy (BC4D): A joint initiative from Hertie Stiftung, Robert Bosch Stiftung, and ISD Germany, BC4D provides a business-led approach to digital literacy for adults, including employee training on hate speech, disinformation, and conspiracy theories.[47]
  • Digital Policy Lab (DPL): Funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, the DPL is an intergovernmental working group focused on regulation and policy regarding disinformation, hate speech, extremism, and terrorism online.[48]
  • Beam: Developed in partnership with the Centre for Analysis of Social Media[49] (CASM), Beam is a meta-project that uses tech to detect, track & measure online manipulation, disinformation, and harassment. Beam was a winner of the 2021 U.S.-Paris Tech Challenge.[50]
  • Prevention Practitioner Network: Developed in partnership with the McCain Institute, the Prevention Practitioner Network is a national network of interdisciplinary professionals dedicated to preventing targeted violence, terrorism, and their impacts within the United States.[51]
  • Strong Cities Network (SCN): Launched at the United Nations in September 2015,[52] SCN is a global network of mayors, municipal-level policy-makers, and practitioners seeking to build social cohesion and counter violent extremism.[53]
  • Youth Civil Activism Network[54] (YouthCAN): Launched in Oslo, Norway in 2015, YouthCAN is a global youth network of counter-extremism and social justice activists.[55]
  • Be Internet Citizens (BIC): Developed in partnership with Google in 2017, BIC is a digital literacy program for youth that aims to explain fake news, echo chambers, filter bubbles, and promote safety online.[56]
  • Shared Endeavour Fund:[57] ISD managed an £800,000 fund, supported and the Mayor of London, to empower communities to tackle violent extremism and a rise in hate crime offences in London.[58]

ISD is also a member of the Christchurch Call advisory network[59] and the Commission for Countering Extremism's Expert Group[60] in the United Kingdom.

Past programs[edit]

  • The Far-Right Extremism in Europe (FREE) Initiative: FREE is an online resource for practitioners responding to far-right extremism and violence.[61]
  • Against Violent Extremism (AVE) network: A global network of former extremists, survivors of violence and interested individuals working together to counter all forms of violent extremism.[62]
  • Extreme Dialogue: A multi-media education resource for teachers and social workers featuring stories from former extremists and survivors of extremism.[63]
  • Counter Conversations: Developed as a research project with Facebook, this initiative facilitates interventions between former extremists and young people who show serious extremist tendencies.[64]
  • Online Civil Courage Initiative (OCCI): A strategic partnership with Facebook, OCCI launched in Germany in 2016 and expanded to France and the UK in 2017. OCCI helps develop new responses to hate speech and violent extremism on social media, providing resources that are often unavailable to grassroots activist organizations.[65]
  • Policy Planners’ Network (PPN): A European inter-governmental network of policy chiefs from integration and interior ministries working to develop upgraded, coordinated responses to integration and extremism.[66]
  • Innovation Fund to Counter Extremism: Launched with in 2017, this fund distributed £1M to support organizations countering hate, racism, and extremism in the UK.[67]
  • Google Impact Challenge on Safety: Launched with and Ashoka in 2019, this fund distributed €10M to support organizations across Europe countering hate, extremism and supporting child safety online.[68]

ISD previously chaired the EU's Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) working group on the Internet and social media[69] and has provided testimony to the US Committee on House Administration,[70] the US Committee on Foreign Affairs,[71] and the UK Home Affairs Select Committee.[72]

Notable publications[edit]


  1. ^ Culliford, Elizabeth. "TikTok Sounds used to spread COVID vaccine misinformation - think tank". Reuters. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  2. ^ "Can a social network fight 'extremism'?". Al Jazeera. May 2012. Archived from the original on 15 June 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Climate policy dragged into culture wars as a 'delay' tactic, finds study". the Guardian. 9 June 2022. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  4. ^ Gonzalez, Ashley Gold,Oriana (18 October 2022). "Social media loses ground on abortion misinformation". Axios. Retrieved 19 October 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "As Midterms Loom, Congress Fears Domestic Disinformation". GovTech. 28 July 2022. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  6. ^ "How QAnon took hold in the UK". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  7. ^ Canada, Public Safety (21 December 2018). "Community Resilience Fund: Funding Project Descriptions". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  8. ^ "YouthCAN Side Event at the UN PVE Summit 2016". (in Norwegian). Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  9. ^ "Partners". ICCT. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  10. ^ "Analysis of Online Hate in the UK [Award]". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  11. ^ "Countering Violent Extremism Online -". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  12. ^ fundsforngos (16 July 2020). "U.S. Embassy in Slovakia announces Countering Extremism Program". fundsforNGOs. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  13. ^ "JUST - New study shows rise in antisemitic online content during the pandemic". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  14. ^ "How Can Technology Help Society Counter Violent Extremism?". Network Against Violent Extremism, Google Ideas.
  15. ^ "Microsoft partners with Institute for Strategic Dialogue and NGOs to discourage online radicalization to violence". Microsoft On the Issues. 18 April 2017. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  16. ^ "Facebook launches Online Civil Courage Initiative to tackle rising extremism in the UK". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  17. ^ "Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism: An update on our progress". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  18. ^ "The Global Disinformation Index". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  19. ^ "Exploring the Role of Algorithms in Online Harmful Speech". OpenNet Africa. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  20. ^ Hamm, Lauren (14 July 2020). "Disinfo Update 14/07/2020". EU DisinfoLab. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  21. ^ "Civic Approaches to Confronting Violent Extremism". British Council. 1 September 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  22. ^ "Misleading metrics: How disinformation networks fake audiences | WARC". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  23. ^ "Institute for Strategic Dialogue US | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  24. ^ Giles, Jason (11 January 2022). "Keeping Misinformation, Hate, and Violence from Going Viral". Omidyar Network. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  25. ^ Solon, Olivia. "Former Terrorists and Neo-Nazis Get Their Own Social Network". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  26. ^ "Partnerships and Funders". ISD. Retrieved 14 September 2022.
  27. ^ "History – Club Of Three". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  28. ^ "Lord Weidenfeld obituary". the Guardian. 20 January 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  29. ^ "The Islam Forum | European Website on Integration". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  30. ^ "Gen Next Foundation - Violent extremism is a mindset". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  31. ^ "Countermeasures - Violent White Supremacy". Jigsaw. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  32. ^ "Tech giants have found a way to fight extremism online. Is it working?". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  33. ^ Dean, James. "Facebook helps pull would be jihadists back from the brink". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  34. ^ Toor, Amar (4 August 2016). "Facebook, Google, and Twitter combat online extremism with targeted videos". The Verge. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  35. ^ "Tech companies combating terrorist propaganda through video". Marketplace. 2 August 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  36. ^ "Russia sows distrust on social media ahead of German election". POLITICO. 3 September 2021. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  37. ^ Thompson, Stuart A. (25 July 2022). "QAnon Candidates Aren't Thriving, but Some of Their Ideas Are". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  38. ^ Dawson, Bethany. "Far-right lures recruits using COVID-19 conspiracy theories, alongside misogyny, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia, says study". Business Insider. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  39. ^ Myers, Steven Lee; Frenkel, Sheera (20 October 2022). "How Disinformation Splintered and Became More Intractable". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  40. ^ "Report: Far right tried to influence Bavarian election". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  41. ^ "Meme warfare in the Swedish context". openDemocracy. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  42. ^ "Europe's far-right parties hunt down the youth vote". AP NEWS. 20 April 2021. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  43. ^ "Italian fascists promote Scottish Dawn in an attempt to influence election". 3 March 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  44. ^ Makong, Bruhan (21 March 2022). "Kenya: Re-Emergence of Political Gangs, a Major Concern Ahead of Elections". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  45. ^ "Election denialists unleash an array of strategies aimed at undermining democracy itself". Daily Kos. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  46. ^ "The Long Road to the Capitol: A Hybrid Threat Landscape - Institute for Strategic Dialogue". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  47. ^ Reiermann, Christian (3 November 2020). "Bündnis gegen Fake News am Arbeitsplatz: Aufklärung in der Mittagspause". Der Spiegel (in German). ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  48. ^ "Staatliche Regulierung: Allianz gegen Big Tech: Druck auf Facebook und Google wächst". (in German). Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  49. ^ "Technology & Values". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  50. ^ "The U.S-Paris Tech Challenge: Hear from the winners – Safety Tech". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  51. ^ "State Targeted Violence Prevention: Programming & Key Performance Indicators". National Governors Association. 25 April 2022. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  52. ^ "Launch of Strong Cities Network to Strengthen Community Resilience Against Violent Extremism". 28 September 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  53. ^ Mali, U. S. Mission (19 July 2018). "Local Governments Ramping Up Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism". U.S. Embassy in Mali. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  54. ^ "YouthCAN". Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  55. ^ "Chapter 2. Country Reports: Europe Overview". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  56. ^ "Be Internet Citizens | UK Parliament Week". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  57. ^ "Mayor launches new fund to counter violent extremism and hate crime". London City Hall. 14 January 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  58. ^ Blake, Elly (19 May 2022). "Sadiq Khan pledges further funding to counter extremism in London". Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  59. ^ Call, Christchurch. "Christchurch Call Advisory Network". Christchurch Call. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  60. ^ "The Commission for Countering Extremism has formed a new Expert Group - Commission for Countering Extremism". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  61. ^ BBC News programme on far-right extremism in Britain covers ISD's campaign and research (18.09.2014), retrieved 21 October 2022
  62. ^ "Network to combat extremism and gang culture launched". BBC News. 25 April 2012.
  63. ^ "Articles > A radical approach - Leader Magazine". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  64. ^ "Facebook Messenger used to fight extremism". BBC News. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  65. ^ "08 The Online Civil Courage Initiative (OCCI)". Courage Against Hate (PDF) (Report). Facebook. July 2021. p. 102. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  66. ^ "Policy Planners' Network". Archived from the original on 7 April 2014.
  67. ^ "Google launches UK 'anti-terror fund'". BBC News. 19 September 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  68. ^ PYMNTS (15 May 2019). "Google's Safety Engineering Center In Munich". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  69. ^ "About RAN". RAN Internet and Social Media, European Commission-Home Affairs.
  70. ^ "A Growing Threat: Foreign and Domestic Sources of Disinformation". Committee on House Administration. 27 July 2022. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  71. ^ "- WOMEN UNDER ISIS RULE: FROM BRUTALITY TO RECRUITMENT". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  72. ^ "Committee takes evidence on hate crime and asylum accommodation". UK Parliament. 20 November 2018. Retrieved 19 October 2022.

External links[edit]