Strengthening citizen security and resolving social conflicts peacefully
Title: Promotion of integral civil security and transformation of social conflicts
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Interior Ministry of Guatemala
Overall term: 2013 to 2021
Guatemala is characterised by economic and social inequalities. The country is still far from a multicultural, peaceful and inclusive society. Fifty-six per cent of the people there live in poverty, with the indigenous population most affected. Despite a decline in the murder rate to 22 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, violence continues to prevail. The dominance of the political and economic elites, the increasing pressure on scarce natural resources, such as water and land, and the lack of legal regulations are the reasons for the numerous conflicts. These include access to land ownership, environmental pollution and social conflicts. In many cases they remain unresolved and are carried out violently. The International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (No. 169) on indigenous and tribal peoples’ empowerment is rarely applied. Corruption and lack of transparency in government action are widespread. Women and children are most affected by violence.
The government is trying to counteract this and has created appropriate policies and institutions such as the national violence prevention strategy and the Law on Free Access to Information. A government dialogue commission with offices in the administrative districts has been established and is addressing conflicts. Strategies for development-oriented conflict management have also been adopted in the administrative districts.
The new government under President Alejandro Giammattei has set violence prevention and conflict transformation as priorities. However, the institutions are inefficient and poorly coordinated. Moreover, state and civil society stakeholders (associations, initiatives) only grudgingly engage in dialogue. There is limited willingness for reform and scant financial means that would enable significant progress towards a more peaceful society.
The state, civil society and the private sector implement coordinated strategies for greater citizen security.
In the final phase (2019 to 2021), the project aims to consolidate and disseminate the numerous approaches to violence prevention, dialogue promotion, conflict transformation and transparency that have been developed and tested in the selected administrative districts and communities and in the ministries. These approaches will be anchored in Guatemalan partner institutions and their capacity for independent continuation strengthened.
The project works in three fields of action:
- Implementing community violence-prevention policies to prevent violence: Employees of community administrations and civil society are able to draw up violence prevention projects focusing especially for women and young people. Sources and mechanisms of funding are defined.
- Developing and implementing strategies in the administrative districts that involve disadvantaged groups (e.g. indigenous peoples) in managing environmental and social conflicts. To this end, state and civil society stakeholders review and accompany consultation processes and conflicts.
- Improving the transparency of information provided by local governments on finances and investment projects: Information is disseminated in a target-group-specific manner and ranges from digital methods to formats for illiterate people and in indigenous languages. The population uses the information appropriately for social control.
- More than 400 police officers, teachers, public servants, stakeholders from initiatives and associations as well as from the private sector have been trained in de-escalation techniques and violence prevention.
- Forty communities have developed strategies for the prevention of violence as well as pilot measures, such as regulations on the control, sale and serving of alcoholic beverages to young people.
- In 29 out of 40 cities the homicide rate has decreased and in 25 cities violence against women has declined.
- The taboo subject of ‘violence against women’ has been included in the public debate and incorporated in local prevention strategies in 40 communities.
- Some 5,000 women have written Cartas de Mujeres (Letters from Women) in order to anchor the topic in society.
- The state and civil society have worked together in 12 administrative districts to develop strategies for non-violent management of social and environmental conflicts.
- Initial foundations for recognition and implementation of indigenous rights by the state and the private sector have been laid based on consultations.
- Twenty-one communities use digital media to inform the population about finances, projects and investment measures
- More than 20 companies have been sensitised and trained in conflict transformation and sustainable dialogue.
- Associations and clubs in Guatemala actively participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).