Promotion of integral civil security and transformation of social conflicts
Title: Promotion of integral civil security and transformation of social conflicts (FOSIT)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Interior Ministry
Overall term: 2013 to 2019
Some two decades after the signing of the peace agreements in 1996, a combination of political instability, organised crime and a high crime rate means that, despite recent improvements, Guatemala is considered the most fragile country in Central America and one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
Insufficient progress has been made in social and economic development for all social, and especially ethnic, groups. Widespread corruption has reduced public confidence in the state and the judiciary to a minimum. In 2015, numerous corruption scandals reaching even the highest levels of government prompted stronger demands for more transparency, dialogue and democracy, and put greater pressure on the government. However, far-reaching reforms have yet to materialise. And in areas where new political measures exist, there is a lack of nationwide implementation.
The state, civil society and the private sector implement coordinated strategies for greater civil security. In concrete terms, this means: Day-to-day violence declines. Social and environmental conflicts are resolved without violence. There is greater transparency and therefore greater trust in the state.
With its FOSIT programme (Fomento de la Seguridad Ciudadana Integral y Transformación de Conflictos Sociales), GIZ supports strategies and measures aimed at preventing violence against children, youths, young adults and women. Another focus is on preventing violent social conflicts.
At national level, the programme advises the Ministry of the Interior on strategies for preventing violence and for cooperation with other state institutions. The programme supports state and civil society stakeholders, such as non-governmental organisations and business associations, in developing and establishing dialogue methods and mechanisms.
The measures focus on the provinces of Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz and Quiché.
Local networks of public and civil society stakeholders are an important success factor for greater citizen security. The acceptance of these networks within the population is the prerequisite for establishing dialogue involving all stakeholders and the constructive resolution of social conflicts. The programme therefore deploys systematic reviews of experience in resolving conflicts as well as examples of good practice as a 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 and in their coordination role. Local networks of public and civil society stakeholders, such as Red Quiché and CM-Tierras in Alta Verapaz, proactively analyse conflict situations and initiate preventive dialogue. This makes the prevention of violence and the peaceful resolution of conflicts a shared task involving all social and ethnic groups.
- Since 2014, Guatemala has had its first long-term national policy framework for preventing violence. An implementation strategy has been in place since 2017.
- Assaults and homicides have decreased by 16 per cent in the project area between 2013 and 2017, property crimes by more than 40 per cent.
- 37 communities have developed plans for preventing violence.
- The taboo subject of violence against women has been included in the public debate and incorporated into local prevention strategies in the 37 communities. Local authorities are aware of the problem, and the issue is also receiving greater attention at national level.
- Local authority initiatives aimed at restricting the sale of alcohol, particularly to young people, have been widely welcomed by authorities in the communities and the population.
- More than 400 police officers, teachers, public servants and stakeholders from civil society organisations and the private sector have been trained through distance learning, seminars and diplomas in de-escalation techniques and systematic approaches to preventing violence. The training module on violence prevention is now in demand with other institutions and communities and is being deployed in a USAID-financed programme.
- To date, almost 2,300 women in twelve communities have anonymously reported their experiences of violence through the ‘Letters from Women’ campaign. The campaign handbook is in demand throughout the country. Local and national prevention policies address violence against women.
- State institutions regularly exchange information through a national dialogue system. Coordination between both state institutions and civil society in responding to social conflicts is supported by regular dialogue between all actors in conflict situations.
- The National Centre for Promoting Social Responsibility in Enterprises (centraRSE) has developed a programme for lasting dialogue, which has been implemented in three events with a total of some 300 participants from government, civil society and the private sector.
- State institutions and the non-governmental organisation Acción Ciudadana (AC), the Guatemalan chapter of Transparency International, have formed a national alliance for transparency. A local pilot project on transparency with the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Acción Ciudadana has met with great interest from other communities.
- The state, companies and civil society in Guatemala are successfully working together in the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). This is an important model for constructive and peaceful dialogue between various interest groups.
- Public campaigns involving a development aid worker at Acción Ciudadana, such as an anti-corruption tour of the capital or specialist training on combating corruption and on compliance, focus on one of the root causes of citizens' dissatisfaction with the state and its institutions.