Promotion of integral civil security and transformation of social conflicts (FOSIT)

Project description

Title: Promotion of integral civil security and transformation of social conflicts (FOSIT)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Guatemala
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Government of the Republic of Guatemala
Overall term: 2013 to 2015

Context

Almost two decades after the signing of the peace agreements (1996), Guatemala continues to have one of the highest rate of violence in the world. Since the end of the 36-year civil war, violence is increasingly being perpetrated by private actors such as drug cartels and youth gangs.

As yet only modest progress has been made in improving civil security; most structural causes of conflict remain unresolved. The insufficient presence and professionalism of state security forces coupled with the fourth-highest homicide rate in Central America, extensive impunity and increasing vigilantism make civil security and the prevention of violence prominent and ongoing topics of domestic policy.
New large-scale projects, in particular infrastructure and mining projects as well as hydroelectric power stations, have created further potential for conflict. Violence is also widespread in the private sphere and in families; the number of femicides is frighteningly high.

Objective

Civic security is improved, both on an objective level and in the individual perception of citizens. Social conflicts about investments in the rural regions are solved in a participatory manner and without violence.

Approach

In its Pact for Security, Justice and Peace, the Guatemalan Government identified two essential factors for success: the development of successful strategies for preventing violence and the inclusion of all interest groups in the implementation of prevention measures. The FOSIT programme supports strategies and measures for preventing violence against children, youths, young adults and women as well as against violence with weapons. It supports strategies and measures at a national level and in the provinces of Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz and Quiché.

The programme supports the Ministry of the Interior in planning and implementing strategies for preventing violence and for cooperation with other state institutions. The development and establishment of dialogue methods and instruments also involves providing support to civil society stakeholders such as non-governmental organisations and industry associations.

Local networks of public and civil society stakeholders are an important success factor. Their acceptance is the prerequisite for establishing a dialogue on civil security and the constructive resolution of social conflicts involving all stakeholders. A systematic review will be conducted of experiences in resolving conflicts and examples of good practice provide the basis for cooperation between the state and civil society and development of joint strategies for preventing violence.

Civil society, associations and special interest groups are supported in their efforts to maintain an integrative dialogue involving all spheres of society. They also receive support in their coordination and to better understand their role. This makes the prevention of violence and the peaceful resolution of conflicts a joint task involving all social and ethnic groups.

Results

Since May 2014, with support from the programmes FOSIT and PREVENIR, Guatemala for the first time has a long-term national policy framework for preventing violence.
The awareness that all spheres of society have to contribute to overcoming violence has been strengthened. Examples of positive, joint conflict resolution, provision of services such as objectifying support and the analysis of conflict situations and their root causes have received positive feedback from the population. Specific, concerted strategies for civil security and the prevention of violence are being implemented with good experiences both at a national and local level.

Practical examples

  • Various campaigns on the issue of violence against women in Latin America have been evaluated and the results have been presented in the different regions. This has resulted in the establishment of initiatives by municipal administrations and the civil society, for example, women's organisations, to transfer the experiences from other countries to the situation in Guatemala and to implement activities with support from FOSIT. One prominent example is the campaign ‘Letters from Women: reports by women’, who anonymously describe their experiences with domestic violence in families are published and discussed to overcome the isolation of the victims and to trigger public debate.
  • So far, 13 local communities have received support in establishing security commissions and in their development of plans for preventing violence. Here, too, the prevention of violence against women in public and in the family is being given specific attention.
  • Distance learning courses, seminars and diplomas have been developed in cooperation with the police academy and two universities. Almost 400 police staff, teachers, public servants and activists from civil society organisations have so far received training in de-escalation techniques and systematic approaches to preventing violence.
    Pilot projects promote non-violence, mediation and political participation for children and youths. In cooperation with parents and teachers, two school centres are developing a curriculum for non-violence with the aim of its later inclusion in the national curriculum.
  • FOSIT supports the development of a national dialogue system for preventing the escalation of conflicts regarding large-scale projects. So far, there has been insufficient coordination between the involved institutions such as the Presidential Coordinating Commission on Human Rights, the Secretariat for Agricultural Affairs and the Ministry of Energy and Mines. The first national meeting with about 140 government officials took place in October 2014. The participating institutions exchanged information about exemplary practices for conflict resolution and developed proposals for improving their cooperation.
  • At a local level, development workers are providing support to security commissions and conflict management networks. Joint seminars deliver training for people involved in conflict and those representing their interests on the topics of peaceful communication techniques and strategies for developing compromises.
  • With support from FOSIT, the National Centre for Promoting Social Responsibility in Enterprises (CENTRARSE) has developed a programme for lasting dialogue. The three programme presentations at departmental level each involved 100 to 120 representatives from the government, civil society and the private sector.
    FOSIT also provided support to the 2014 Central American Conference of Entrepreneurs (CONVERTIRSE) in Guatemala which focused on the topic of Social Responsibility for Dialogue as a Sustainability Strategy. Its aim was to sensitise companies to committing to social dialogue processes and taking over social responsibility in their daily routine.