Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP)

The Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) helps catalyze lasting, constructive, and peaceful change in fragile and chaotic settings around the world. AfP serves as a thought leader for the peacebuilding field, linking theory and practice across multiple sectors and practice areas. It works closely with the US and global policy communities to link civil society with foreign policy, and to create new frames for human security. It also facilitates collaboration among peacebuilders and related sectors, for more effective and integrated solutions to complex global problems.

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Case Studies

South Africa: Building Capacity for Human Security

South Africa is perhaps the most important case study of successful, locally owned peacebuilding and human security. Intensive training and coaching of South African leaders in negotiation, mediation and conflict analysis supported the intense transition from apartheid to political democracy. Local level peacebuilding efforts added up to national-level peacebuilding. As one of the most inspiring success stories of locally-led peacebuilding, South Africa’s independent and highly skilled civil society played important roles in both local and high-level negotiation and mediation processes. Growing out of this experience, South Africans are now in a position to assist in peaceful transitions to democracy in other countries through the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). ACCORD takes a non-sectarian, independent stance to advance human security.

ACCORD’s Training for Peace (TfP) Programme began in 1995 to build the capacity of civil society and the security sector in peacebuilding, particularly in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and countries in the South African Development Community (SADC), but also further afield in Europe and elsewhere. ACCORD runs the TfP programme in collaboration with The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria; the Kofi Annan International Peace Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra; and the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs (NUPI) in Oslo. Approximately 7000 civilians, police and military – many currently serving in UN and African peace operations – have been trained through the TfP Programme, and about 300 publications have been produced, encompassing research papers, books, reports, manuals, readers and handbooks.

The TfP Programme's primary purpose is to significantly improve the civilian capacity of African states, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) / Regional Mechanisms (RMs), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to prepare, plan, manage and monitor multi-dimensional peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations in Africa. This is done through a combination of training, applied research and policy development, towards:


• Contributing towards the development of a multi-dimensional and integrated approach to African peace operations;

• Building civilian capacity for AU and UN peace operations;

• Assisting the AU and the RECs/RMs in the development of the civilian structures of their standby forces and PLANELMs; and

• Creating awareness on the civilian dimension of the ASF.

Training of civilian and police peacekeeping and peacebuilding personnel takes place in “classrooms, boardrooms, in halls of power and the African bush” with a focus on conflict analysis, negotiation and mediation, the role of civilians, particularly women, in peace and security. ACCORD works closely with the African Civilian Standby Roster for Humanitarian and Peacebuilding Missions (AFDEM), whose role is to provide the link between training and deployment. Graduates of the TfP are screened and placed on AFDEM's standby roster. AFDEM also facilitates deployment to UN or African peace operations, UN agencies or civil society organizations.

ACCORD also takes part in gender mainstreaming and integrating the women, peace and security agenda in peace operations, having over two decades of practical experience in peacekeeping and the implementation of UNSCR 1325 (See Fiji case study on women, peace and security in this report). ACCORD facilitates capacity building for women to understand the UN Secretary General’s Senior Women Talent Pipeline Project (SWTP) that aims to increase the number of senior level women in peacekeeping missions.

The first phase of the project led to the identification of 64 women for the Pipeline and deployment of 4 senior women to UN peace operations in the areas of Political Affairs, Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Civil Affairs, Public Information and Communication. The second phase rolled out in November 2014, with an emphasis on French and Arabic speakers, and led to an additional 27 women joining the Pipeline. As part of the third phase of the project begun in May 2015, ACCORD/TfP is working with the UN to identify and train more women to apply to top-level UN peacekeeping missions. ACCORD also plays roles in training UN and African Union staff in gender sensitivity to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and protection of men, women, boys and girls.

ACCORD’s Peacekeeping Unit focuses on improving the capability and professionalism of UN Civil Affairs; the development of a strategic framework on protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping operations; clarifying the peacekeeping-peacebuilding nexus; and enhancing civilian capacities. It has specifically focused on civil affairs, and has conducted research to understand the specific context and needs of Civil Affairs Officers. The Unit conducts specialized tailored in-mission conflict management training courses and supports the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) Peacekeeping Best Practices Section (PBPS) in the roll out of the Civil Affairs Skills Training Methodology. It has also developed a Civil Affairs Handbook (launched in April 2012) that serves as a reference guide for (Civil Affairs) Officers in the field.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Case Study

Pakistan: Gender-responsive Policing

In response to violent extremist group’s attacks on religious places, military and police installations, markets, funeral gatherings and even schools, Pakistani police departments diverted training and resources away from crime prevention toward counterterrorism. The police engaged mainly male officers with negligible if any role of female police. Building public trust in police and improving public-police relations was not a priority. Close collaboration between police and army and the militarization of the police had further widened the gap between public and police leading to incidents where people took the matters in their own hands. With male officers involved in counterterrorism activities, women police could have been utilized in regular police work to improve public security.

The National Police Bureau acts as a Secretariat of the Ministry of Interior Pakistan and has the mandate to give advisory support to all police organizations on policy formulation and monitors implementation. In response to these challenges, GIZ and the National Police Bureau launched a Gender Responsive Policing Project in July 2009 with a vision to bring a positive change within the institutional landscape. The project worked nationwide through close collaboration with the bureau. The project aimed to provide gender responsive policing services to the community by support equitable participation of both men and women police officers. The main rationale of the programme was to improve the delivery of police services for women, girls, elderly people, children and minorities. It was observed that wherever women were engaged in active policing there was no report of corruption and very few complaints of delayed response. In the presence of female officers, women also no longer abstained from seeking police assistance due to fear or shame.

The program’s key activities were the following:

Conducting a Gender Audit

A Gender Audit established a baseline understanding of current levels of gender awareness and sensitivity in the policing practices including recruitment and promotion, training and curricula, procedures and protocols, policies and services etc. Police officers in the mid-management level conducted the audit to ensure that the credibility of results was not questioned. The audit revealed striking gender gaps at all levels. Women police were segregated in women police stations and played an insignificant role in active policing. In response to the gender audit, the project adopted a multipronged approach for improving gender mainstreaming and sensitivity to gender-based violence in policing.

Introducing Gender-sensitive Operating Procedures

With input from police officers across Pakistan, the project developed Standard Operating Procedures for police to deal with women victims of violence. This led to the establishment of Ladies Complaint Units and dedicated women desks inside regular male-dominated police stations to assist women with complainants. For example, more than 60 women’s desks were set up in the province of Khyber Pukhtunkhawa. Setting up women desks and ladies complaint units encouraged women to approach police for help, increased reporting of cases of violence against women, and resulted in improved responses to women’s complaints.

Conducting Training Programs

The project brought together police training heads from all parts of the country to formulate gender guidelines for training. This enabled the establishment of a uniform countrywide standard of learning for each rank within the police form. Police trainers from police training institutes were trained as gender trainers to sensitize male and female police trainees to provide gender sensitive services to women seeking police assistance. Police received information and training on implementation of laws supporting women’s safety from violence, which helps to motivate police officers to offer timely assistance to female victims and to fight crimes against women. The project included modules on gender responsive policing in mandatory police trainings and improved general understanding of gender issues. In addition, the gender trainers modelled new interactive training methodologies to improve the overall training environment.

Improving National Policies and Laws

The National Police Bureau with the technical assistance of the Gender Responsive Policing Project began to develop a Gender Strategy of Police. The project negotiated and mediated spaces for women in police. Despite initial resistance, the 2012 approval of the Gender Strategy of Policy provided national guidance on gender sensitive policing practices and provided a new rational for gender mainstreaming. The Government of Pakistan had previously announced but had not implemented a 10% quota for women in all public jobs. Through the Gender Strategy of police the project ensured this quota in policing throughout Pakistan. Senior management was convinced to create proper positions for women police in mainstream policing. Police organizations now have to increase vacancies for women since more and more are applying for policing positions.

The Gender Strategy also highlighted that enhancing the role and position of women in active policing was not only a constitutional right of women, it was also an operational necessity to address violence against women. The philosophy behind gender responsive policing was to prevent and control violence at its roots. Gender roles often encourage women to practice using social skills such as empathy, communication and problem solving. The Gender Responsive Policing Project focused on women’s strengths in these skill sets to address social problems. Violence against women was seen as a precursor of intolerance in society. Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to run away from home, use violence, seek refuge in drugs, and indulge in criminal activities or other activities that reflect societal intolerance and violence. Safety at home results in safe and tolerant societies.

Preparing Women for their New Role

Parallel activities supported the Gender Strategy. Specialized trainings were organized for women police to enhance their policing skills before negotiating for their enhanced positioning within their departments. A Women Police Network was established providing a platform for women police to table their issues and demand an active role in policing. Motivational workshops were held for women police to help them take pride in their work and stand by each other against all odds. The Women Police Network was linked with international and national organizations for technical assistance and advisory support.

Raising Public Awareness

The project worked with religious scholars, media, civil society, and philanthropists to promote the idea of gender responsiveness in policing practices and improve the acceptance of the role of women in police. National and International conferences were held on gender responsive policing advocating for the enhanced role of women in police for ensuring peaceful societies.

Placing women as role-models into the police forces

The women officers trained in the project were deputed in male police stations. For example, in Punjab Province a few women officers trained by the project were posted to male police stations to work shoulder to shoulder with their male colleagues. In Sindh Province, four women were made head of male police stations (Station House Officers) and one senior woman was made head of a police district for the first time in the history of Pakistan. Media headlines on their achievements further motivated the women and their colleagues, as well as prospective women who see these female police officers as role models. Nationwide motivational campaigns were organized in girls’ colleges and universities to inform them on women protection laws, violation of women rights, and motivating them to join police service to help the helpless in their communities.

Several international and national organizations are now working on gender responsive policing adopting the approach of the Gender Responsive Policing project and building on its successes. Other countries such as Sudan and India are using Pakistan’s Gender Strategy of Police as a model for their own work to gender mainstream in policing.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Case Study

Nepal: Improving Access to Justice

Although security has improved overall since the peace agreement in 2006, violence against women and girls is perceived to be on the increase in Nepal. Domestic violence is widespread including beatings, intimidations and food rationing by family members or neighbours. But discriminatory socio-cultural practices such as polygamy, child marriage, dowry disputes, limited access to property or citizenship rights or witchcraft accusations are also rampant on the local level.


These grievances are countered by a very weak response from official security and justice actors. Although policy-makers have ratified progressive legislation, discriminatory attitudes or interference by political parties in formal justice institutions prevent many women and girls, in particular those belonging to ethnic minorities, to report their cases. Victims of SGBV may often not read nor speak the language of the court and may feel generally intimidated or discouraged by the formal procedures. Instead, they increasingly turn to informal justice institutions such as traditional village courts or mediation committees. But these informal mechanisms are just as prone to discrimination or interference. Since the state has little oversight over the informal justice sector, they leave the needs of women and girls largely unaddressed and allow perpetrators of serious crimes to evade formal punishment.

In order to improve the state oversight of informal mechanisms and improve access to justice for women and girls in Nepal, International Alert has worked in three main areas:

Training Informal Justice Providers
In collaboration with the Supreme Court of Nepal and the National Judicial Academy International Alert worked with two local civil society organizations, the Legal Aid and Consultancy Center (LACC), a legal resource organization that promotes women’s access to justice, and the Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD), an NGO that works for the protection, promotion and enjoyment of human rights. Together they trained almost 500 informal justice providers on the basic principles of Nepal’s law and its justice system including international gender and human rights norms. Through the trainings, informal justice providers increased their knowledge and understanding of the formal justice system and the principles on which it operates. They understood their own role within the larger system, their mandate to handle civil disputes, and how they could complement the work of the courts in order to provide more equitable and fair justice, especially to women and girls.

Pushing for Institutional Progress
As part of on-going judicial reform in Nepal, the judiciary created a provision for Continuous Hearing to ensure speedier justice delivery by the courts and reduce large case backlogs. However, for some time this provision had not been implemented at the district level because district judges and court officials lacked a clear understanding of the procedures required to implement it and because of a lack of coordination among the different justice sector actors.
Recognising that justice seekers turned to informal justice providers even for criminal cases because of the speed of their judgements, International Alert collaborated with the Supreme Court to organize briefings for judges in the courts in six districts to discuss how to implement Continuous Hearing. The briefings resulted in the adoption of the practice of Continuous Hearing by these six courts, demonstrating that justice could be delivered more swiftly in the courts, and eventually official guidance for Nepal’s other district courts to replicate this practice.

Raising Public Awareness
International Alert has also been engaging in a broad public outreach campaign in Nepal. The aim is to make female justice seekers aware of their rights and increase their understanding of the justice system. The campaign included discussion programmes on problems of access to justice that were broadcast on radio stations in six districts and a video documentary about access to justice problems related to addressing SGBV that was broadcast on national TV and Facebook. In three districts, International Alert provided public information on women’s rights, the law relating to SGBV and justice procedures through a mobile documentary show that reached approximately 500 members of the public in schools and other public meeting places.

One hundred and twenty non-state justice providers took part in exposure visits to courts, police stations, public attorney offices, Women and Children’s Development Offices and other parts of the state justice system to demystify state procedures. Participants met with officials, including judges, and in at least one district (Banke), received presentations on how the state providers worked. The visits were also an opportunity for the state providers to request that criminal cases be referred to them and not be handled in the community.

Working with the Women and Children’s Development Offices in six districts, International Alert and its partners held twelve public information sessions on the Government’s GBV Reduction Fund. This Fund existed but was largely not being used because the local government structures were not sure of how or when to use it. The information session served a dual purpose of helping local government officials and WCDO officers understand how they could use the fund to assist victims of GBV, and gave victims and communities members at large an induction to the Fund and what women could request from local government representatives.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Case Study

Burundi: Civil Society Consultation and Oversight in SSR/D

The Burundian SSR/D process is unique for several reasons. The Arusha Accord’s attention to the ethnic balance of the Burundi security forces in the years following the civil war may have displaced needed attention to security governance, as evidenced by renewed fighting and frequent accusations against the police of human rights abuses. As part of the SSR/D process, the Burundian Defence Review included three pillars to assess the military, police, and the crosscutting theme of security sector governance. Unlike most train and equip-type SSR/D efforts, this programme gave more attention to local governance and the process of how local institutions earned public legitimacy through open, transparent, and inclusive processes. The military pillar, for example, included a UN Peacebuilding Fund project in strengthening military ethics and discipline through a “moralization” training for the military to improve the morality and behaviour of security personnel that could then improve the civil-military relationship. The overall purpose of the Defence Review was to identify diverse stakeholder’s security needs and perceptions through a participatory security assessment process. The process emphasized the diverse roles and the “matrix of responsibilities” of different stakeholders.

The “security governance pillar” focused on national ownership of the Defence Review process. The review assessed parliamentary roles and responsibilities for overseeing the security sector, to ensure it represented citizen’s interests. It also provided space and funding for civil society consultation, participation and oversight in security governance.


When the Defence Review began, tensions were high between civil society, the government, and the security sector, especially the police. In 2009, a civil society leader fighting government corruption was assassinated. The Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Intelligence denounced and threatened civil society, requiring all CSOs to obtain permission to hold public meetings and de-registering the main Burundian CSO network, the Forum for Strengthening the Civil Society (FORSC), until pressured to reverse the decision. [62] Early in the program, military leaders and some Parliamentarians objected to having civilians involved in discussing security and strongly opposed civil society oversight or monitoring of the security sector. Through the Defence Review process, multi-stakeholder security dialogue led by skilled facilitators, built trust and appreciation that diverse civil society stakeholders held legitimate roles and responsibilities in security sector governance.

The Defence Review set up a Governance Advisory Group and chose two Burundian civil society organizations with experience on peace and security issues Conflict Alert and Prevention Centre (CENAP) and the Centre des Femmes pour la Paix/Women’s Centre for Peace (CFP/WPC) to participate. The Governance Advisory Group played a variety of roles, from guidance and advice on programme activities, to evaluating the impact of activities, coordinating and overseeing the security governance in the entire SSD program.

As part of its role in the Defence Review, CENAP structured wide public consultation to support the SSR/D process. [63] With experience in conflict assessment and early warning, CENAP already had a positive track record on security issues. CENAP collected views of what was needed to create long-term peace from a representative sample of the Burundian population through focus groups, interviews, audio-visual sessions, and national forums. CENAP facilitated consultations with diverse local civil society organizations, women, youth, refugees, religious leaders, students, media, political parties and demobilized soldiers, CENAP organized dialogue groups in both rural and urban areas as well as national task forces on four identified challenges: illegal circulation of weapons; poverty and unemployment; attitudes during elections; and transitional justice and reconciliation. The consultations with diverse segments of Burundi society documented that people of different regions, classes and ethnic identities had different security challenges. [64] Research documented that most security threats did not have a military solution, highlighting the roles and responsibilities of other stakeholders.

The CFP/WPC supported consultation with women and girls, include female ex-combatants to ensure the public consultation was gender sensitive and included advocacy for women’s rights and the involvement of Burundian women in the peace and reconciliation process, particularly in light of UN resolution 1325’s mandate for women’s involvement in peace processes. CFP and CENAP also contributed in mobilization of civil society, including those of women and youth, to get understand security sector reform and on their role in supporting peace consolidation.

An example illustrates how civil society participated in SSR. Military and police units began hosting “open days” where the public could visit non-sensitive sites to dialogue with and improve relationships and understanding. On one military open day, civil society representatives from human rights and women’s organizations worked together with military officers to evaluate different military units as they demonstrated how they would protect a village from a rebel attack in an“ethics competition.” The participating military units with the highest rating won a prize and public recognition. [65] This exercise marked a new milestone in Burundian civil society oversight of the security sector.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[62] Brigette Butt. Evaluation of Burundian Peacebuilding Programme. Interpeace, May 2010. p. 13.

[63] See Willy Nindorera. Security Sector Reform in Burundi: Issues and Challenges for Improving Civilian Protection. CENAP and North-South Institute. July 2007.

[64] Burundi Defence Review: Lessons Learned. Conflict, Security and Development Research Group (CSDRG), Department of War Studies, King’s College London in collaboration with the Institute of Economic Development in Burundi (IDEC). June 2014. P. 43.

[65] Found originally in Nicole Ball, Putting governance at the heart of security sector reform: Lessons from the Burundi-Netherlands Security Sector Development Programme. Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael. March 2014. P. 41.

Case Study

Pakistan: Training Women to Participate in Security Sector Policy Making

Lack of training and support is a major obstacle to women’s participation in security sector policy-making and programming. Security processes often exclude women in their development and implementation and women may need enhanced advocacy capabilities to address this exclusion. Often women in the security sector have no mentors or support networks and are provided little access to the forums that discuss national or local security priorities. Male policy makers may also often lack knowledge about how to craft inclusive security sector policies and programmes.

The Institute for Inclusive Security works through research, training, and advocacy to advance women’s inclusion in peace and security processes. The central focus of their policy work and programming is to recruit, retain, and professionalize women in the security sector not just to train women to collaborate with the security sectors. Inclusive Security organizes joint workshops and consultations during which women peacebuilders and security actors discuss how to better account for women’s needs in security sector reform.


In Pakistan, Inclusive Security and partner organization PAIMAN Alumni Trust held a series of multi-sectoral capacity building workshops to advance the inclusion of women in the country’s policy-making on countering violent extremism (CVE). Inclusive Security and PAIMAN brought together female delegates of civil society from every province with women working in provincial and federal police forces and parliaments in Islamabad.

Based on a training curriculum developed with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) (see box below for more detail), the initial workshops focussed on the role women can and should play in addressing CVE. These discussions were important to build trust and a common consensus around these issues among the women. Since it was their first opportunity to meet representatives from the other sectors, they needed to increase their understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities and think about how they could jointly contribute to CVE. The second workshop then focused on how they could address or work around the current shortcomings of the security sector in Pakistan. The women were able to formulate specific recommendations to ensure that the national action plan on CVE will give more attention to gender-specific needs and increase the recruitment, retention and professionalization of women in the police force.

The partners equip select Pakistani women leaders in civil society, parliament, and the police to impact processes and dialogues related to countering violent extremism in Pakistan by:

  1. Deepening participants understanding of women’s roles in countering violent extremism, the existing institutions that develop policies related to security issues, and the impact that they can have on national security processes and dialogues.
  2. Connecting participants to other leaders and policymakers in Pakistan, the US, and the region so that they can share information about the role of women in countering violent extremism and build a broader network.
  3. Increasing the participants’ advocacy skills so that they can effectively advance women’s inclusion in security-setting policy processes and institutions, including Pakistan’s law enforcement sector.
  4. Building cross-sectoral collaborative approaches to increase women’s inclusion in countering violent extremism and increase trust and information sharing between sectors.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Case Study

Afghanistan: Mediation-based DDR

International priorities on counterterrorism delayed and contorted Afghanistan’s DDR program. The 2001 Bonn Agreement after the Taliban fell did not include DDR. DDR began in Afghanistan in 2003 to address anti-Taliban militias. The first DDR programme offered individual former militia commanders political appointments as an incentive to go through DDR. This had the negative side effect of setting into place political appointees who the public accused of human rights abuses and corruption. [1] Rewarding these militia leaders with political appointment created a sense that counterterrorism was more important than human rights or the rule of law. It entrenched public distrust in the Afghan government and in turn also contributed to Taliban recruitment.


Without setting up DDR encampments to entice whole militia units to go through DDR together, donor governments channelled lower level former militia went through an individual DDR process. Beginning with soldiers giving up their weapons in a parade and attending a demobilization workshop in which they promised not to take up arms again, the programmes offered demobilized individuals a package of food and clothing. However, without a peace agreement in place, DDR did not stick. Some demobilized combatants turned back to militia groups and some went to the drug trade. [2] At best DDR was a waste of time and money. At worse, the contentious political appointments resulting from these efforts entrenched public distrust of the Afghan government and increased Taliban recruitment.

A new generation of DDR programmes imagined that local Taliban commanders and their groups could disarm together through a mediated process that would address local grievances. A story from Helmand Province inspired this new model. An armed opposition group had agreed to stop fighting the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), reject out of area fighters, remove or show the location of planted IEDs (improvised explosive devices), allow freedom of movement to patrols, and accept Afghan National Security Force checkpoints. In return, the Afghan government agreed to increase Afghan security forces to ensure that there are Afghans partnered in all home search and patrols with international forces to address widespread complaints of international forces searching Afghan homes. The Afghan government also promised to begin short-term cash for work and long-term economic development opportunities for ex-combatants.

Afghan civil society was the only stakeholder in Afghanistan with the capacity to design and carry out a mediation-based DDR model. Afghan civil society organizations (CSOs) have been carrying out peacebuilding programmes in Afghanistan since the early 1990s to mediate water and land disputes, domestic violence and family issues as well as conflicts within community development councils over setting development priorities. One Afghan CSO [3] designed a programme to harness Afghan peacebuilding capacity to this new generation of DDR. The Afghan CSO facilitated a pilot DDR programme based on mediation and grievance resolution from October 2010 through January 2011 in 3 provinces and 16 communities including the following components.

Rapid Response Team: The Afghan government identified emerging reintegration opportunities. Government staff provided permission letters to the Afghan CSO’s field staff to conduct an independent assessment of economic, ideological, political and security grievances among the reintegrees and the communities to which they would return. This step provided information about the core grievances driving the insurgency. Those interviewed included commanders, reintegrees and members of communities ranging from households to elders and religious leaders, labourers, traders, and district level political leadership. This assessment helped identify potential “internally-generated” incentives for DDR including face-saving mechanisms for reintegrating, local security guarantees, and promoting local coexistence so as to foster successful reintegration rather than relying on “externally-generated” incentives such as financial payments.


Provincial and Local Community Mediation and Grievance Resolution: Government authorities identified a mix of diverse provincial leaders to join Provincial Peace and Reintegration Committees. The Afghan CSO trained provincial and local mediation and grievance resolution teams composed of two representatives from each group: government representatives, members of non-state armed opposition groups, and community representatives including local village elders, local mullahs, and community members.

In some communities, local peace committees already existed as part of the nation-wide network of existing Community Development Councils. Where there were no peace committees, the Afghan CSO helped to set them up.

The mediation process included three phases. First, the process identified each stakeholder’s key issues or grievances necessary to reach a DDR agreement. Second, the mediation explored options for resolving each of the issues. Third, the mediation developed a signed agreement that met all stakeholders’ interests. By the end of January 2011, the Afghan CSO had trained 400 people in three provinces to help the reintegrees and communities cope with reintegration, leveraging both formal and informal justice systems. The programme also improved local capacity for addressing longer term conflicts directly related to the reintegrees as well as other issues such as local disputes over land, water, debts, domestic violence and other community issues.


Monitoring and Assessment Team: Afghan CSO research teams of four to six members monitored the roll out of the DDR programme in three provinces. The research teams also conducted focus groups to identify the effects of reintegration on the community, and track overall human security at the village and district level. To do this, the CSO developed a research tool based on locally identified human security indicators measuring people’s ability to move around, provide for their families and access governance systems and service. The human security indicator tool measured the accuracy of perceptions by counting actual events, such as the number of visits made to specific districts by local, provincial and national government representatives and the number of police interaction with the community. The research monitored trends and changes of both the former combatants and the communities into which they were reintegrating in terms of physical security, freedom of movement, economic well-being and access to governance and justice. The methodology provided direct comparison across provinces, including both qualitative and quantitative information delivered on a monthly and quarterly basis. The Afghan CSO then wrote policy recommendations for security policymakers based on the human security research.

Future DDR in Afghanistan: Political opposition to this approach eventually made it impossible for this programme to continue. Some of the former militia leaders cum provincial leaders who had benefited from political appointments during the first round of DDR may have obstructed a mediation-based DDR effort that would bring a new set of political rivals from the battleground. However, a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan will create an unprecedented urgency for DDR. [4] The lessons from this peacebuilding approach to DDR will be essential to avoid the failures of past DDR processes such as technical fixes and short-sighted political appointments that undermine human security. DDR must address underlying grievances and needs, and reknit social relationships.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[1] Patricia Gossman. Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Afghanistan. International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). June 2009.
[2] Caroline A. Hartzell. Missed Opportunities The Impact of DDR on SSR in Afghanistan. US Institute of Peace Special Report 270. April 2011.
[3] The name of the Afghan CSO is withheld intentionally given the security risks to civil society in Afghanistan.
[4] DeeDee Derksen. Reintegrating Armed Groups in Afghanistan: Lessons from the Past. US Institute of Peace. PeaceBrief 168, March 7, 2014.

Case Study

DRC: Peacebuilding-based DDR

Following the DRC’s Lusaka peace agreement in 1999, the World Bank organized funding for a Multi-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Programme (MDRP). Beginning in 2004, a programme to demobilize, disarm and reintegrate 150,000 ex-combatants, mainly militia members, continued to function alongside active warfare. In North Kivu in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a small local Congolese NGO with fifteen years of local peacebuilding experience began a DDR program.


Drawing on peacebuilding skills, a DDR programmes run by the Centre for Resolution of Conflicts (CRC) emphasized building an infrastructure of support for sustainable reintegration[1] . CRC viewed reintegration as the cornerstone of successful DDR, and as such advocated calling the efforts RDD to emphasize the need to think about reintegration from the very beginning of any DDR program. From CRC’s point of view, the donor-supported DDR programmes neglected to consider how ex-combatants would cope with reintegration. Money was available for “sensitizing” armed groups on the need to disarm and demobilize, but money was not available for reintegration or for considering how to prepare communities where they were to be reintegrated. DDR programmes assumed ex-combatants would be integrated into the state’s armed forces, even though these units also were to be demobilized.

CRC designed a programme for reintegration where it became an opportunity for community development. Creating a preventive infrastructure to handle land conflicts was a key component of the CRC approach. Together, there was a coherent plan for livelihood creation through seeds and agriculture kit. This paired with the development of a community-based conflict resolution system that addressed issues of IDPs and combatants returning and settling on land.

Six task forces worked on the reintegration process, each with approximately 12 people made up of community and religious leaders, former child soldiers, and former militia commanders. CRC trained the task forces on human rights and conflict resolution. The task forces play a variety of roles through CRC partnerships with other agencies such as FAO, UNDP, UNHCR and Save the Children/UNICEF.

First, CRC advertises their DDR programme in a variety of ways. Radio programmes encouraged combatants to leave armed groups individually. Negotiations with militia leaders encouraged demobilization and reintegration for entire militia groups. MONUSCO (and before that MONUC) dropped leaflets from helicopters inviting combatants to call the CRC director to discuss reintegration. 

CRC staff would then travel without protection into the bush – sometimes waiting for several days - to negotiate with militia commanders, to return with all of their men or to release child soldiers. CRC provided accompaniment for 4,276 ex-combatants (3532 men, 270 women, and 474 children). This accompaniment ensured the safe passage of ex-combatants to MONUSCO or FARD camps where they are demobilized by removing their weapons, military-style clothing or other symbols of their combatant status and recording their names. CRC then accompanied them to the communities where they were reintegrated. This helped make sure that militia members made it all the way into CRC reintegration programs, which CRC viewed as pivotal to successful DDR.

Simultaneously with advertising the programme to militia members, CRC prepared communities for receiving militia members. CRC persuaded communities through incentives such as reparation programmes where militia members would do community service, such as building roads. CRC also provided a range of livelihood options, some available to non-combatant community members. For example, CRC began joint civilian and ex-combatant co-operatives for 1334 ex-combatants. Inclusion of civilians in the cooperatives ensured that ex-combatants alone did not receive the bulk of assistance, since this would create an unfortunate incentive for others to join militias. Cooperatives begin with 30 members and small grants of $2000 as start up. Cooperatives often grew quickly, some with 200 members, as they extend inclusion of others. Ex-combatants may provide community service by rehabilitating local infrastructure of roads and markets. This increases their acceptance by local communities and enables further community development.

CRC found that civilian communities provided a socializing model of civilian values and provided a new social network for militia members that affirmed acceptable civilian behaviours. In addition, CRC supported the creation of voluntary social networks to attend to reintegrated militia members and the community. This includes community conflict resolution task forces that help to ease social tensions. The CRC set up an early warning system and provided mediation for local disputes. The local conflict resolution task forces were created to warn of impending conflicts over land, for example, as IDPs return to an area. The task forces supported mediation to take place between key stakeholders so that an agreement can be made without resort to violence.

CRC supported 119 communities in the reintegration process by hosting call-in radio clubs for two-way dialogue on weekly CRC radio programs. Listeners could text or call into the radio show with their concerns or ideas. Some villages used these radio clubs as a way of fostering participatory planning and development on projects such as bicycle repair, hairdressing, hydroelectric power and propagating seedlings for reforestation. There is also a synergy between these programs. The radio clubs foster trust with local communities, that then makes the other stages of reintegration work more smoothly.

PeaceDirect, the London-based funder of CRC, is carrying out on-going monitoring and evaluation of CRC’s DDR effort. Ex-combatants who went to communities with CRC’s intervention are compared both with ex-combatants who went through other, non-CRC DDR programs, and with ex-combatants who did not receive CRC or other DDR support. Researchers also interviewed CRC-assisted communities and non-CRC assisted communities to evaluate their view of the program. Researchers found that 81% of ex-combatants who did not receive assistance would consider re-recruiting to an armed group compared to 58% of those receiving non-CRC assistance and only 10% of those ex-combatants that CRC did assist. An evaluation of CRC’s work found that its identity as a local organization with a long history of working with local communities enables it to be credible and trustworthy for armed groups, many of whom have become wary of FARDC, UN and MONUSCO. “CRC’s long term commitment, visibility, local knowledge, first hand awareness of the impacts of conflict at a personal and community level, networks of contacts and strong staff commitment and work ethic have given CRC great credibility with armed groups, with communities and with partners.” [2] 

Peace Direct also compares the cost for CRC’s DDR program, a small fraction of the costs of large scale, government or contractor-run programs. For example, the cost for these task forces was $1500 to start up each Task Force with $500 per year for travel funds. Task Force members volunteered 44000 hours of time per year. In contrast, some DDR programmes easily cost $1500 per armed individual.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[1] This case is drawn from Coming Home: A Case Study of Community Led Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration in D.R. Congo. London: Peace Direct, 2011.

[2] Peace Direct Evaluation Report cited in Coming Home, p. 11.

Case Study

Afghanistan: “Democratic Policing”

In addition to the challenges of lack of training, policies, facilities and public trust, Afghanistan was a testing ground for multiple interventions to reform the police all happening at the same time. These included initiatives related to counterinsurgency policing, counter-narcotics policing, intelligence-led policing, arming local communities to act like police, and community or democratic policing. Each approach relied on a distinct analysis of the security problems and relied on different, if not competing, theories of how to improve policing. While many programmes assumed the problem with policing stemmed from a lack of weapons or training in how to use them, or a problem of discipline and corruption, or a lack of training in human rights, one police programme took a different approach based on the belief that public lack of trust in and community relationships with the police was the fundamental problem.


Recognizing the need to coordinate police reform and development with governance, justice reform, disarmament, and other government efforts, the Afghan Ministry of Interior asked the UN Development Programme to conduct research and write a strategy paper for police-community engagement in the Afghan context. Consultations with diverse stakeholders including parliamentarians, NGOs, media, academics, and police personnel, and community members, especially vulnerable groups such as women, ethnic minorities and economically deprived communities, provided. Unlike other police reform efforts, this programme was “people-oriented” and was almost completely Afghan-led, with Afghan civil society organizations playing a prominent role in designing the program.

The Afghan Civil Society Forum-organization (ACSFo) and other civil society groups helped to facilitate the research and design of the programme known as Police e Mardumi (in Dari language) or Da Toleni Police (in Pashto language). While similar to other community policing programmes in other countries, it was referred to as the “democratic policing” programme to distinguish it from the confusing use of the term “community policing” within the Afghan context to refer to a parallel programme also known as the Afghanistan Local Police (ALP) initiative, based on arming community fighters to protect their own region. The democratic policing programme had four main components: training of the community and police first separately and then together; developing neighbourhood watch committees made up of community members; facilitating community-police dialogue at the local, district and provincial levels; and problem-solving forums and mechanisms to invite public reporting on security concerns.

The programme began with three types of training. While other police training programmes focused more on the “hard security” skills of enemy identification, use of weapons and force, the democratic policing programme spent two weeks focusing primarily on the “soft skills” of Islamic-based human rights, communication skills, leadership skills and conflict resolution methods, psychosocial counselling, legal issues related to rights of vulnerable groups and police and state roles and responsibilities. Police received training in human rights and police procedures relating to detention. A separate training for the community provided skills in advocacy and encouragement to see police not as “big men” who could not be approached, but as public servants whose job requires them to listen to community members. A third set of training brought the police and community together to learn about the rule of law. Unlike other police training programmes that relied heavily on interpreters and lectures, this democratic policing programme used roleplays, pictures and group dialogue to foster practical learning and build relationships in the training. This was important given the high rates of illiteracy.


Relationship building and joint problem solving were central features of this democratic policing program. A neighbourhood watch committee formed in each community. It was made up of seven community members, including at least one or two women. In some communities, religious leaders also participated in the neighbourhood watch program. Religious leaders have historically played important roles in overseeing the security sector, so could lend the project a sense of legitimacy.

ACSFo and other civil society groups facilitated bimonthly meetings between police and communities, including the neighbourhood watch committees. At these meetings, the community identified security challenges and designed local strategies to solve them. For example, the community could report on their concerns for children’s safety walking to school and together with the police, they could develop a plan for protecting school children. In some cases, these community-police forums expanded beyond public safety concerns toward a broader human security agenda. In Samangan province, for example, the community identified water scarcity as a primary threat to their security. In some cases, police-community meetings at district level were very tense. The programme facilitators decided to focus on the provincial level instead. Community representatives brought their concerns about police bribery, corruption and laziness to the provincial chief of police. At the next month’s meeting, the chief of police came with answers to the community and commitments to address the problems. These meetings increased police accountability to the public. Police realized they could be fired for reports from the community based on their performance.


In addition, the democratic policing project created two mechanisms for public to report information and grievances to or about the police. Police stations set up “information desks” and created call-in hotlines and/or complaint and suggestion boxes to receive information and complaints from the public. The complaint and suggestion boxes were distributed in front of schools, parks, and mosques. Every fifteen days, representatives from the police, community, local government and a religious leader would open these boxes and decide how to respond. For example, in one case a girl put in a complaint in front of her school naming the location of a man whom she had seen kill a woman. In another case, someone made a complaint against a specific government official who was corrupt and not doing his job. In the case of a group of girls that had run away from home to escape force child marriage, the community and police were able to negotiate with families and find ways of returning many girls to their homes and allowing them to continue their education. Most of the complaints were anonymous, making it difficult to investigate some accusations. But in some cases, the boxes provided needed information about how to protect the community.

In provinces with severe violence, such as Kunduz, the information desks and crisis response hotlines were the only feature of this programme in operation. There were no participatory dialogues where community members could discuss security threats and options for addressing them with the local police. It was assumed that the democratic policing concept to facilitate dialogue between police and community members would not work in these regions.[1] However, Afghan media worked with civil society and the Ministry of the Interior to produce a large scale public awareness campaigns using mobile phones, social media, and TV and radio dramas to provide the public with a positive vision of the police as well as citizen rights and information on how to use the 119 crisis response hotline.


The Afghan Civil Society Forum-organization and other civil society groups also monitored and reported on the progress of the program, building in a system of civil society oversight and accountability of the police to the public. Both police and community members believed that the problem-solving, participatory process to identify security threats and develop human security strategies between the police and the community improved their relationship. [2]


Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[1] Doel Mukerjee and Mushtaq Rahim. “Police e Mardumi: Indigenous District-Level Civilian Policing in Afghanistan” in Global Community Policing. Edited by Arvind Verma, Dilip K. Das, and Manoj Abraham. CRC Press Taylor and Francis Group, 2013. p. 58.
[2] See Afghan Civil Society Forum-organization. “Baseline Study for Pilot Democratic Policing Across 8 Districts of Northern Kabul Province.” Published in cooperation with the Afghan Ministry of Interior and the UN Development Program. March 2010.

Case Study

Mali: Training Military staff on IHL and Human Rights

Historic patterns of distrust between the Malian army and the tribally diverse population following the ending of colonial rule in 1960 contribute to on-going cycles of violence between northern Mali’s Tuareg tribal group, Islamist groups, and the Malian military, which led a military coup in April 2012. International assistance to the Malian military focuses primarily on providing weapons and tactical training. Civilians are often caught in the middle of fighting.


When the European Union Training Mission in Mali’s (EUTM) requested a civilian trainer on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Human Rights, the Paris-based civil society organization Beyond Peace was tasked to carry out initial research on military patterns of abuse. Beyond Peace worked with local and international NGOs, human rights groups, and the Malian Ministry of Defence to identify patterns of military forces abuse. Documented accounts of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearance, use of torture, sexual violence, attacks on civilians, looting, and attacks on schools indicated a systemic lack of attention to protection of civilians and international law.

The Beyond Peace training on IHL and human rights faced a variety of challenges. Most of the Malian forces were illiterate. Soldiers receiving training did not share a common language, though many knew some French. The design of the military training that they were receiving in parallel to Beyond Peace’s course was cumulative, moving from simple to more difficult manoeuvres. The Beyond Peace training on IHL and human rights was on separate topics (such as distinction, proportionality, or treatment of prisoners) making it difficult to build on topics alongside the military training. And finally, there was only one IHL trainer, compared to 185 military trainers. The IHL trainer had to negotiate with military trainers for time allotment and inclusion of key themes into interactive scenario.

To address these challenges, Beyond Peace developed and delivered a 10 week course for 700 Malian military personnel, all men and mostly illiterate, who were preparing for immediate deployment to conduct policing, area control and counterinsurgency. The training focused on IHL and human rights to address these major incidents and prepare them with “right reflexes” when facing fear, hatred and violence, particularly with civilians. The training was not academic or highly technical. The main ideas of key international legal documents were translated into simpler and more accessible concepts that were then practiced in interactive scenarios. Training on IHL and human rights is about sharing values and changing mind-sets. It can only be achieved if the mission itself believes in these values and is ready to challenge its own mind-set.” [1]

To evaluate this training program, Beyond Peace measured the acquisition of knowledge as well as changes to behaviour after deployment. A pre and post-training questionnaire was given on Week 1 and Week 10. Comparative results illustrated improvement on knowledge of IHL and human rights. In addition, trainers met weekly to reflect on group learning objectives and subjective progress in meeting these. Training exercises were adapted to reflect challenges in meeting learning objectives. In addition, the trainer gathered feedback from partners and observers about violations of IHL and human rights. No major violations were reported after the training, in contrast to the frequent reports of violations before the training. During a refresher course for one of the battalions, soldiers’ anecdotal reports indicated that they had used the IHL and human rights training and that it did change their behaviour in military operations. They indicated their relationship with the local population had improved.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[1] Petrigh, Cynthia. “Even Wars Have Limits: An IHL Training Manual.” Paris: July 2014. p. 47.

Case Study

Brazil: Civil-Military-Police Joint Training

Civil-military relations and security sector reform in the Caribbean and Latin America face distinct challenges. During Spanish and Portuguese colonialism, the conqueror’s military forces used a strategy of pacification to put down rebellions and to control or even to destroy native peoples. Afterwards, this repressive attitude toward society continued, defining most of the history of military-civil society relations in Latin America. Yet in general, since the 1980s, there has been a transition away from military-led governments toward greater democracy and citizen participation in all aspects of public life. Latin American governments are increasingly working together on regional issues, particularly in response to regional challenges of trafficking in drugs, weapons and people.

Civil-military relations in the Caribbean and Latin America are distinct from Western countries in a variety of ways, due to a different historical evolution of the security forces and different governance arrangements. Since 2012, there has been an effort to build up a civil society network of university scholars and NGOs to work with military officers to improve civil-military relations in the Caribbean and Latin America. This “Military and Security in Latin America and the Caribbean” network aims to produce an overview on the recent experience of safety, different reports, and possibilities to create a human security/human rights oriented policy. It has been mostly a joint effort spread among military and scholars.

Brazilian efforts to use universities as an intermediary to provide a safe space for civil-military-police dialogue on issues of public safety and national security could eventually spread throughout the region. Formulas that connect civilian scholars, civilian graduate programmes and military graduate courses – or even hybrid graduate programmes – have been part of this recent Brazilian experience. If analysed in its first outcomes, and adapted respecting local dynamics and expertise, this model could be translated more widely in Latin America, using this kind of cooperation established with military schools.

Brazil itself has assisted in SSR/D efforts in other countries such as Haiti, Guinea-Bissau, and Timor-Leste, both bilaterally and through organizations such as the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP). Yet as with other countries assisting with SSR, civil-military relations within Brazil and internal SSR/D efforts still need attention.

Within Brazil, the history of military interventions and military rule has created lasting mistrust between the military, police, and civil society. Historically, the military viewed political opposition as “the internal enemy” that must be “eliminated” rather than addressed through democratic processes. While democratization occurred within the government’s political sector, the military and police sector still run based on a model established during the authoritarian regime (1964-1985). This model gives to the military police a primary repressive task in ordinary law enforcement activities and a secondary competence as National Army´s auxiliary troops (exactly the same as during the dictatorship period). In Brazil, each state federal unity in Brazil has its own military police corps. These police corps are militarized in a gendarmerie-like corporation under state Governor’s authority.

On the other hand, the National Army has a contradictory history. Officially, the Army main prerogative is to protect national sovereignty, and as a second level of competence, to act in internal issues such as law enforcement. It means that training and weaponry is geared toward identifying and fighting enemies and not as much on protecting and serving the population.

Nevertheless, Brazil’s military has had a significant role in responding to internal humanitarian crises, such as floods or the recurrent support to minimize desertification effects on vulnerable populations. This degree of competence has increased since the beginning of the deployment of Brazilian troops to lead the security work in UN missions, especially in Haiti (2004 onwards). In preparation for this mission, Brazilian forces trained in urban combat simulations in order to act in Port-au-Prince slums. [1] This experience exposed Brazilian forces to training on UN values and concepts on Protection of Civilians and related concepts. [2]


The Brazilian military experience of policing operations in Haiti could lead to a shift in how the Brazilian military operates side by side in public safety issues within Brazil, particularly in favelas (slums). The Brazilian Ministry of Defence, answering to a formal request by Rio de Janeiro’s Governor, formed two “Pacification Forces” that occupied three sets of slums in two phases, the first one from December 2010 to July 2012, and the second between May 2014 and April 2015. Part of the Army’s troops operating in Rio’s slums included former UN troops in Haiti. Besides that, the operations were connected to a state Military Police programme called Police Pacification Units (UPP) aimed to occupy communities where drug trafficking takes place. There are many questions stemming from this kind of collaboration between the Armed Forces and the Military Police. [3] The memory of the military participation in the so-called “dirty war” against political opposition during the 1960’s and 1970’s ignites a difficult debate among scholars, military staff, politicians, and civil society organizations. [4]

If it is true that the move toward civilian governments in Brazil has opened the door to new conversations on security, Brazilian society has not had practice in participating in security discussions. Brazilian academics point out that in a democratic country, society must think about these issues and provide oversight to ensure that the military is accountable to civilian leadership and the civilian population. On June 20th, 2013, close to 1.5 million people marched in over eighty cities across Brazil in the largest public demonstrations since redemocratization in 1985. Then, state Military Police used extreme force on the protestors, indiscriminately using tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. [5] Political leaders and media portrayed the protests as illegal acts, while civil society perceived the protests as legitimate acts of political opposition. After the Military Police brutality even traditional political parties and the major media turned against the security forces.

In such a context, Brazilian academics and NGOs are trying to build bridges of communication between the military, police and civil society to offer forums for dialogue on the emphasis on public safety versus national security. However, there is an increasing consensus of the importance to discuss these issues more openly among Brazilian society, not only in silos of those directly involved. The educational field seems to be a respected intermediary to provide forums for civil-military-police dialogue. In Brazil, universities can provide a safe space for civil society and the military to interact, and therefore serve as an entry point, whilst overcoming stigma from talking to the military.

The Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS) of the Fluminense Federal University, in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro is the first academic institute in Brazil devoted to civil-military relations. ISS opened its doors in 2012 after a ten-year process of consolidation within the Political Sciences Department. Scholars engaged in its creation had a historical involvement with civilian-military issues and had helped to establish organizations such as the Brazilian Association for Defence Studies (ABED), in 2008. ISS has cooperation agreements with high-level military schools in Brazil (Army, Navy, Air Force), with special attention to their graduate courses. Besides that, ISS offers an undergraduate course in International Relations and a postgraduate course devoted to civil-military relations. There are around 20 military officers in the institute, under civilian supervision, and among its professors there are forms military officers.

Following ISS experience, other Universities in Brazil started their own graduate programmes on Strategic Studies or Defence Studies, including the Army’s and Navy’s high-level schools based in Rio de Janeiro. The Institute is establishing connections between these two separate worlds in Brazil – the world of the military and police’ and their perspectives on security and the world of civil society and their perspectives on public safety.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[1] Kai Kenkel (2010). New missions and emerging powers: Brazil, Peace Operations and MINUSTAH In: LEUPRECHT, Christian; TROY, Jodok; LAST, David (Eds.). Mission Critical: smaller democracies’ role in global stability operations. Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
[2] Thiago Rodrigues. Brazil’s South-South Humanitarian Actions: Paradigm Shift and Domestic Consequences. in LSE Ideas. London: London School of Economics. Nov. 26th 2012. Found at: (accessed 22 August 2014)
[3] Thiago Rodrigues (2015). Drug trafficking and security in contemporary Brazil In: RYAN, Gregory (ed.). World Politics of Security. Rio de Janeiro: CEBRI/KAS, p. 235-250.
[4] Jorge Zaverucha. The Increased Role of the Brazilian Army in Activities of Public Security. Nueva Sociedad. January-February 2008. p. 213. Found at: (Access 27 August 2014.)
[5] Thiago Rodrigues and Fernando Brancoli. “A Brazilian Spring? No, not really” in LSE Ideas. London: London School of Economics. 16 July 2013. Found at: (accessed 22 August 2014)

Case Study

Israel and Palestine: Training Security Forces in Negotiation

The Oslo Agreement of 1994 instigated a two-fold process. First, it launched Palestinian security sector reform (SSR) aimed to protect Palestinians and serve as pillar of statehood. Second, it mandated Israeli and Palestinian security forces to work together in border regions, jointly supervising various bridges and boundaries.

The Palestinian security forces were chosen for their loyalty to the Palestinian cause. Many were former prisoners. They were trained and equipped in the use of force, but not provided with skills for working with civil society. In spite of their loyalty to their people, and their passion to help, they lacked knowledge on how to engage effectively with civil society.


Like the Israeli and Palestinian populations at large, Israeli and Palestinian security forces have a history of antagonism and violence. They had little opportunity to meet each other and understand little about the other’s culture, experiences and perceptions. This caused tensions and problems with the civilians crossing these checkpoints between Gaza and Israel and between the West Bank and Jordan. Israeli and Palestinian security forces need communication skills and conflict resolution skills to deal with the public and with each other.

A number of local initiatives responded to these challenges. Between 1996 and 1999 several freelance conflict resolution trainers set up a programme to train Palestinian police, security forces, and government employees on how to better relate with the public. The programme was led by the Palestine Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (CCRR), an interfaith centre that provides peacebuilding education programmes to a variety of audiences, including the police, security forces, and government employees, in collaboration with PANORAMA, a Palestinian NGO focused on democracy and civil society, and the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights. Its purpose was to improve relationships between Palestinian security forces and Palestinian civil society.

In Hebron, Bethlehem, Abu Dis, Jericho, and Ramallah the trainers reached at least 200 Palestinian members of the security forces. The programme focused first on facilitating an internal dialogue between the different factions in the security forces, to help them learn to understand each other and coordinate with each other. The training included an introduction to conflict resolution skills and methods, a self-assessment to reflect on theirown motivations and behaviours and how these impact the public, a discussion of the impact of internal conflicts within the Palestinian security forces on the public, and an exercise on improving relations with the public. [1]

In 1998-1999, a separate programme brought together Israeli and Palestinian security forces mandated to manage a 24-hour a day border checkpoint at Allenby bridge at the Jordanian border and at Karmy bridge between Gaza and Israel. Given the history of conflict and animosity, this programme aimed to improve the relationships between Israeli and Palestinian security forces. The CCRR and the Israeli Centre for Negotiation and Mediation designed a model of training material course for 40 hours, co-facilitated and co-trained with one Palestinian and one Israeli facilitator. Senior officers on both sides also attended the course.

The officers had little information about each other’s habits, values and general culture other than the negative rumours and stereotypes each side held of the other. Given the lack of trust and understanding, it was difficult for them to work with each other. This course focused on ways to resolve daily conflicts between the two sides, including communication skills and cross-cultural understanding to change the image each side has of the other. The training began with basic trust building. Facilitators helped participants understand the experiences and perceptions that shaped each person’s understanding and behaviour emphasizing their shared humanity. Each participant was given the opportunity to introduce their culture and values to the others. These courses were the first opportunity for those officers to get to know each other and to learn how each side sees the other. All participants and their ranking officers reported a great interest in these courses, and a commitment to continue attending it. Participants indicated that their relationship with each other has changed after taking this course, and the way they were dealing with each other also changed and became better. [2]

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[1] Palestinian Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation Annual Report 2005. Bethlehem, Palestine. Pg. 14. (Accessed August 19, 2014 at
[2] Participants gave a written and oral evaluation every day of training.

Case Study

The Philippines: Civil Society-Military-Police Capacity Building

Following a long period of brutal colonial rule by first Spain and then the United States, Philippine government policies of martial law and authoritarianism correlated with increasing accusations of human rights abuses by military forces and a decline in civilian control of the military. Under these repressive and corrupt influences, internal insurgency movements grew, the main ones being The Communist Party of the Philippines –New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).


An increasingly emboldened civil society opposition to authoritarianism led to a broad-based democratic movement of “people power” that ultimately toppled President Marcos in 1986. Ultimately, civil society-military cooperation contributed toward making the transition to a democratic political system. While foreign security assistance programmes for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) concentrated on train and equip programmes aimed to enable counterinsurgency, Filipino civil society organizations identified the military and police as critical stakeholders in the peace process and reached out to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to begin dialogue. With a robust and highly skilled civil society, the Philippines became one of the first countries where civil society peacebuilding organizations began to reach out to the military and police to offer training and advice on building peace. A number of Filipino civil society groups have taken part in large-scale capacity building in peacebuilding values, skills, and processes for thousands of military officials, staff, and civilian reserve forces in the Philippines in conflict assessment, facilitation, mediation, negotiation, building a culture of peace and other conflict transformation strategies. [1]

Like most other Filipino civil society groups, Balay Mindanaw had no intention to work with the military when they began their peacebuilding work in 1996. The director of Balay Mindanaw, Ariel (Ayi) Hernandez, first learned to know military officers in a leadership development program. “While all I heard about the military before was their abuses, here I was talking face to face with soldiers who are willing to change, willing to help improve our people’s lot,” Hernandez recalls. In particular, Hernandez built a relationship with then Colonel Raymundo B. Ferrer. Balay Mindanao reached out to the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute to begin discussion on training the military in peacebuilding.

Initial Civil Society Training for Military Officers

The Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) was set up as a training ground for civil society in 2000. When military personnel applied to take courses, there was at first resistance. MPI faculty worried that admitting military personnel into their courses might affect the safety of other participants, or would change the dynamic of the learning environment, intimidating other students. There was also concern that the military wanted to spy on NGOs attending the training, to gather intelligence.

Trainers at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute had previous negative experiences with military forces. Lead trainer Deng Giguiento from Catholic Relief Services, had been on a factfinding mission in North Catobato, Philippines when soldiers stopped her. The soldiers were drunk and had removed their nametags, so they could not be identified. Six pointed their guns at Giguiento, pushing the rifle barrels into her dress. Giguiento was subsequently hesitant about letting military personnel take her course on conflict transformation. However, other MPI faculty had more positive experiences with soldiers. Another MPI trainer Rudy Rodil (aka Ompong) had been part of a government panel that negotiated a truce with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and had seen, through that process, that soldiers could become respectful and skilled peacebuilders. One particular Filipino military leader was the first to seek training in peacebuilding.Balay Mindanao and another Filipino NGO Pakigdait, whose story is told later in this report, vouched for the good relationship they had developed with then Col Ferrer. As a result of civil society advocating on behalf of their military colleagues, Giguiento agreed to let Colonel Ferrer into her course on conflict transformation.

MPI staff set strict ground rules for military personnel attending MPI: “no guns, no uniforms, no bodyguards, no ranks, just the participants’ first and last names would be used, and no intelligence gathering.” [2] Military personnel learned side by side with civilians working for civil society organizations. The mixed workshops were opportunities for the military to engage with groups that they don’t usually engage with such as Muslim peace advocates, grassroots peace leaders, and young peace activists. This allowed for breaking down stereotypes, and developing relationships between civil society and military personnel. Ferrer helped to ease civil society’s anxiety by listening closely to other participants, not interrupting others, and demonstrating respect through all his interactions.

Balay Mindanao, the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute faculty, Catholic Relief Services and other Filipino civil society groups planned follow up after these initial trainings. Civil society invited trained military officials to become members of province-based networks of peacebuilders. Various groups established follow-up structures as support mechanisms for the trained military men and women. The support mostly comes informally through follow-up conversations, phone calls, and texts. Formal strategies included the conduct of regular meetings, inviting trained military personnel into local peace networks, and civil society visits to military camps. Local level initiatives between military commanders, local leaders, and communities included joint community-based peacebuilding efforts such as local zones of peace, local dialogue between warring parties at the village levels, and community development projects. Key leaders in civil society began reframing their perspective of the military from an enemy to a partner in supporting the peace process.

Expanding the “Soldiers for Peace”

Approach Colonel Ferrer continued to reach out to Filipino civil society groups working in peace, development and human rights after he received training at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute. His promotion to Brigadier General came along with the title of “Peace General” because of his peace leadership and negotiation skills. Recognizing the history of bad relations and military abuses, Ferrer sought to involve soldiers in acts of atonement and reparation. Referring to stories of human rights abuses, Ferrer recognized: “Admittedly, we had become part of the problem in the conflict in Mindanao.” The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had used brute force against armed opposition groups in deterring violence. But the more forceused, the more people joined armed opposition groups. Meanwhile, government services reached only main cities. In recognizing the roots of civilian distrust, Balay Mindanaw and General Ferrer began designing a joint project to provide peacebuilding and conflict management training workshops for the officers and soldiers of the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division with the goal of deescalating the violence in Mindanao. [3] Ferrer committed his entire division to Balay Mindanaw’s Operation Peace Course (also known as “OP KORs”). Balay Mindanao’s President Kaloy Manlupig supported the project, recognizing that peacebuilding requires involving the security sector, which was at the centre of peace and security issues in the Philippines. Manlupig quoted Albert Einstein, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Trained for war fighting, working for peace would at first glace appear to be contradictory. For transformation to happen in the security sector, security forces needed a new approach. Soldiers needed to learn communication skills so they could deescalate and defuse conflicts through active listening, dialogue, negotiation and mediation processes.

Balay Mindanaw began offering three levels of training in response to Brigadier General Ferrer’s interest in expand the training of soldiers for peace:  

  • A two-day course for senior officers, since they can only be absent from their command for a maximum of 3 days;
  • A five-day course for junior officers, some of whom were trained as trainers so they could take the lessons to their respective battalions, companies and units;  
  • A five-day course for non-commissioned officers at the community level. This included training members of the volunteer Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs).

Balay Mindanaw also carried out policy advocacy. First, Balay Mindanaw attempted to institutionalize the peacebuilding and conflict management skills courses in all of the formal academic institutions in the Department of National Defence and the Armed Forces. Second, Balay Mindanaw aimed to change the doctrine of the basis of promotion for the soldiers, so that they would be rewarded for the peace leadership and not just for how many enemies were killed or captured, or how many weapons surrendered or captured.

Through the training and Ferrer’s leadership, soldiers in violence-prone Basilan province improved their relationships with local civilians and worked side by side with them to build houses and water supply systems. Ferrer questioned why his troops had been taught to scowl at people and “to put on a fierce face.” He encouraged soldiers to smile at people and to greet them with respect. [4] Ferrer wanted paramilitary troops to be “peace multipliers” not “force multipliers.” And slowly his efforts yielded results. People began going to the security forces with their concerns rather than running away from them when they drove to their community. BMI’s colourful report called “Soldiers for Peace” includes photographs and stories of the impact of training for the military in peacebuilding. For example:

The Army’s 403rd Infantry “Peacemakers” Brigade arranged a ceremony for a return to the community for 22 members of the New People’s Army. Living a life of abject poverty in a remote village far from government services, the young men had been easy recruits to the NPA, who promised them a right to self-determination if they took up arms to topple the government. Recognizing the power of offering respect to each human being, regardless of their identity, the Army did not use the more common term of a “surrender” ceremony. They issued an apology to the 22 former NPA members, noting that the Army had committed human rights abuses against their people. Then Army officers helped the NPA to reintegrate, often by pushing civilian government officers to do their job in providing medical care. Foot soldiers are now perceived as being more respectful in their dealings with people. Police and military officers have started to help mediate large and small conflicts in the communities; including defusing local disputes over land. When the public calls on security forces to respond, police or military soldiers trained in mediation use these skills rather than use force. When a German national and his three Filipino companions were kidnapped in North Cotabato, Philippines, military officers who were in the midst of attending a peacebuilding course at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute pursued dialogue with the kidnappers by contacting the police, local government officials, peace negotiators and the MILF instead of sending troops after the kidnappers. The victims were freed within 6 hours. [5]

Training for Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units

While much of the civil society training for the military focused on the southern, Mindanao region of the Philippines and emphasized top-level military leaders, another group was focusing on training in the northern region. Like other Filipino leaders, the Interfaith Center for Conciliation and Nonviolence (ICCN) viewed a strong partnership between the military and key government service delivery units as main factor to reduce the level of dissatisfaction of the people. ICCN encouraged strong collaboration – especially in the operational level - between the civilian government and the military. This would help ‘capacitate’ civilian units to allow them to handle local peace and order problems without dependence on the military.

From 2010 to 2013, ICCN under the direction of Chito Generoso, partnered with the Office of the Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process (OPAPP), and the Philippine Army’s Civil-Military Operations Office (G3) on a project to train select local CAFGUs (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units) and their commanders to support peace and human security in armed conflict affected areas. ICCN’s trainings for these paramilitary groups included conflict transformation, alternative dispute resolution, and mediation in ten CAFGU Battalion camps in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, with a focus on trainees from detachments from remote villages not easily accessible for government services.

In the Cordillera region in particular, local government units led an initiative to use mediation to address local conflicts that drive violence between state and nonstate armed groups. In 2011 at Lagawe, Ifugao, the Provincial Governor, with UNDP support, formally organized and launched one hundred and six (106) mediators, consisting of local government officials, line-agency employees, civil society organization members, policemen, and security personnel as the “Ifugao Mediators Club.”

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches  edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[1]  Pressia Ariffin-Cabo. Peacebuilding with the Military: The Case of the Armed Forces of the Philippines: Lessons Learned. Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst PHL, June 2008.

[2]  Ibid p. 6.

[3]  “The Military in Democratic Development: A Philippine Case Study.” Raymundo B. Ferrer and Carolina Hernandez. Military Engagement: Influencing Armed Forces Worldwide to Support Democratic Transitions. Volume II: Regional and Country Studies. Edited by Dennis Blair. Washington DC: Brookings Institute, 2013. P. 144

[4]  Maryann Cusimano Love. “Partnering for Peace in the Philippines: Military and Religious Engagement.” Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, GUISD Pew Case Study Center. Washington DC, p. 3.

[5]  Chito Generoso, “Partnering for Peace, Conflict Transformation & Alternative Dispute Resolution, Peace-Building & Security Sector Reform(SSR) in the context of IPSP “BAYANIHAN” & OPLAN SAMAHAN Initiatives.” The Philippines: Interfaith Center for Conciliation & Nonviolence (ICCN), December 14, 2011. P. 6.

Case Study

The Philippines: The “Bantay Bayanihan” Forum

Building on a decade of capacity building training programmes and joint programming for the military and civil society in the Philippines, a new initiative creates a permanent forum for civil society-military-police coordination and civil society oversight of the security sector. Launched in 2011, the Bantay Bayanihan forum institutionalized the goodwill that began with the 2010 formulation of the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) that included strong participation from civil society groups.

Bantay Bayanihan, known as the “BB,” engages the security sector in critical and constructive collaboration towards peace and security sector reform. The network serves as an independent oversight body in the implementation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Internal Peace and Security Plan. It provides dialogue spaces for various stakeholders to come together and work towards addressing peace and security issues at the local and national levels.


The BB is a “Whole of Nation Approach” involving many diverse stakeholders. But the BB is also localized, enabling the general public at the local level to communicate directly with local security forces and local government. The map here highlights the locations of BB platforms across the Philippines. The network has grown to 15 clusters with a nationwide reach. It includes 150 civil society organizations – including human rights, religious, environmental, academic, and labour groups - together with civilian government units, leaders from the Department of National Defence, Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Security Council, and the Cabinet Cluster on Justice, Peace, and Security also participate in BB events and meetings. The BB’s National Secretariat is the Security Reform Initiative (SRI).

According to the BB’s website, [1] “The universal message of Bantay Bayanihan is about working together towards winning the peace. By sharing the gains and duties of laying the groundwork for conflict resolution and community development, it creates a space for conflict survivors to be empowered in creating their future. At the same time, it brings government closer to its constituents, offering a human perspective of security issues rather than its traditional institutional stance.” BB aims for dialogue partners to jointly implement the IPSP to ensure and advance human rights, international humanitarian law, rule of law, accountability, civilian engagement and democratization of the armed forces. Specifically, BB includes the following tasks:


• Serving as a venue or direct channel to raise issues regarding the IPSP-Bayanihan, including peace and security concerns of local communities

• Conducting and validating periodic evaluations of IPSP-Bayanihan

• Providing recommendations to the Chief of Staff (national level) and Commanding General (unified command/ division/ brigade level) on IPSP-Bayanihan

• Generating concise policy recommendations on security reforms together with peace and conflict dynamics, to be submitted and presented to respective peace and order councils (local executive) and sanggunian (local legislative), all the way to national-level Cabinet security cluster (executive) and Congress (legislative)

• Promoting Bantay Bayanihan to other potential partner stakeholders

• Institutionalizing the active partnership of government and civil society

In addition to smaller meetings where civil society representatives meet with security sector leaders, the BB also holds public forums to broaden discussion about Peace and Order Councils, Normalization, and CAFGUs (Citizen Auxiliary Force Geographical Units). Bantay Bayanihan also produces policy reform papers to reflect the views of both civil society and relevant government agencies.

The BB emerges from decades of tense relationships between communities and security forces. At first, civil society suggested that they call the BB a “multisectoral advisory committee.” Then the name shifted to the “Bayanihan Partners Forum” but some parts of civil society objecting, noting it was too early to call each other “partners.” Some military officers were unsure about allowing civil society representatives to hear intelligence reports, such as the details of operations, from casualties to how many shells were fired. A civil society member shared that with the IPSP approach guiding the military’s activities, there was a significant change in dealing with such cases: “Military now plays a vital role as protector of the civilians. This lessened human rights violations because the military has learned that they have to connect with the community. Before, they were hard to get or they were very sensitive and defensive especially when we brought cases of rape [against soldiers] to the [meeting] sessions.” Trust continues to grow, as security forces recognize the value of hearing civil society’s different perspectives and analysis on security threats.

In the region of Lanao del Norte, the BB’s work building civil society collaboration outreach from a small, interfaith NGO known as Pakigdait with the Filipino military. Pakigdait conducts interfaith dialogue between Muslim and Christian leaders and aims to help communities address conflict and bring needed changes without violence. Like most of his community, Musa Sanguila of Pakigdait had experienced abuse from military personnel. Growing up as an ethnic Moro, he had been rounded up by the military police and from that experience of repression and humiliation he became a Moro activist. In August 2008 the army blocked all food supplies to the local municipality. Pakigait requested for passage to bring in relief goods. The army refused for fear that they are also providing for the insurgents. But now, because of the BB dialogue, trust between civil society and the military is increasing because of the BB engagement.


His colleague Abel Jose Moya was captured and tortured in the 1980s for his role in the New People’s Army. Sanguila and Moya had a change of heart. With a desire to promote a “culture of peace,” Sanguila and his colleagues began regularly visiting military camps to teach soldiers how to speak the local Maranao language and to relate better to local communities. The AFP twice awarded Pakigdait as an “outstanding NGO” for its bridge building work between civil society and the military. [2] Now Musa Sanguila sits on the BB oversight committee. Sanguila observed that “Everyone is wounded” in both civil society and in security forces. Speaking as a representative of civil society, Sanguila states “It is important we talk to each other. We always tell them that we are here not to criticise but to be constructive on how we can push for peace and development together. We are here to help.”

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[1] See Accessed 30 October 2015.
[2] See Ariffin-Cabo. June 2008.

Case Study

Lebanon: Building Trust Between Police and Local communities

Decades of civil war and regional conflict have resulted in few opportunities for the country to rally around a comprehensive security sector reform process. As a result, there is a trust deficit between civil society and the security sector, with the Internal Security Forces (ISF) often perceived as corrupt, biased or inefficient in their role of protecting local communities.


Recognizing this, the Lebanese government together with international partners decided to pilot a programme in one neighbourhood in central Beirut, Hbeish, with the aim of transforming the Ras Beirut Police Station into a ‘model Police Station’. By the time that SFCG began partnering with the station, they had already adopted a code of conduct based on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Standards and changed their recruitment and training policies in order to ensure their officers are properly trained. The ISF also set up new and easily accessible facilities and introduced regular patrols on foot, vehicle and bike as well as a digital database to collect and analyse security incidents. These organizational changes had built skills within the police to better be able to engage with the community. Yet there was little opportunity for police and community members to actually build direct human relationships with each and restore their mutual trust.

Search for Common Ground’s programme ‘Better Together’,in partnership with the Ras Beirut Police Station aimed thus to build healthy relationships with the local community and strengthen the effectiveness of the police officers in protecting the community.

Building Skills for Trust-building; Separately, then Together

The Ras Beirut community is situated nearby large universities, where perceptions towards the ISF were very negative. SFCG knew that bringing together people from the community with the ISF in a face to face meeting or town hall meeting would likely end with confrontation and deepening of mistrust.

SFCG thus started by reaching out to various student and young organisations, to explain the project and identify people who were interested in gradually growing their engagement with the ISF. At first, there was deep suspicion and rejection by many young people. But SFCG was gradually able to draw the young people into the project, starting by building skills for the young people in citizen engagement and Common Ground leadership and advocacy, with an emphasis on identifying areas of commonalities with ‘the other’.

SFCG thentrained nominated ISF members from Ras Beirut in skills around non-violent communication, mediation and conflict transformation. They also became familiar with methods of social media outreach, to improve their ability to communicate with the community.

Trust-building through Open House and Joint Patrols

SFCG recognized that many of the stereotypes held both by the youth and the ISF were due to past negative experiences, and misperceptions about the real role and responsibilities of the ISF. SFCG worked with the ISF to host open-house days where members of the community could come in and learn about the Ras Beirut station, and talk to police officers. Many community members had never before been in the police station, or had had negative experiences in the past. The ISF also invited a group of young people to shadow them on night patrols in the neighbourhood, which was an eye-opening experience for the youth, and a humanizing and trust-building success.


Roundtable Discussions and Joint Problem Solving Workshops

After several months of working with the groups separately, SFCG facilitated a series of round table discussions. While recognizing that many of the participants still felt a need to express their anger, trauma or distrust of the other group, the facilitation gradually moved the group towards the identification of challenges within the community,which they could tackle together. Issues identified included how to tackle small café owners who put their tables and chairs on the street illegally, how to manage waste, and how to put in place a mobile application for citizens to be able to alert the Police Station when they see suspicious or criminal behaviour.

Through a series of five round tables, the relationship was developed to the point that in order to achieve progress on the above ideas, both the ISF and the community identified and contributed resources to move them forward. A WhatsApp  group was created to enable on-going dialogue and collaboration to reach these goals.

Community Outreach

Once the bridges of trust had been built between the ISF and the young people along with other community leaders, they jointly organised other public outreach activities. This included sports and cultural events, as well as setting up stands at large public Beirut street festivals (for example the Hamra Festival). The group also produced leaflets and posters to communicate the community security focus of the police station, and group representatives appeared on local media to talk about their initiatives.


Through the trainings, joint activities, round tables and public outreach, trust gradually began to overcome the mistrust and fear. In the end, the pilot project to demonstrate how the Ras Beirut Police station could become a ‘model police’ station showed signs of becoming reality, as both police officers and community members understood and acted on their joint sense of responsibility for bringing this idea to reality.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Case Study

DRC: Transforming the Congolese Armed Forces

The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen the deadliest conflict since World War II. Following the overthrow of former President Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997, the country was plunged into several civil and regional wars, involving dozens of non-state armed groups battling with remnants of the Congolese army. The result was a death toll reaching 6 million, the destruction of rule of law, and a complete breakdown in the role of the Congolese Armed Forces in their obligation to protect Congolese civilians. The conflict led to the DRC being labelled the “rape capital of the world”59 due to the frequency and intensity of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) inflicted by soldiers, non-state armed actors, bandits, criminals and even community members against women and men.

International civil society organisations responded to these extreme abuses largely through condemnation or seeking to use the UN or other international channels to pressure the government to discipline its soldiers. However, this had little effect on the abusive behaviour of the soldiers, and resulted rather in polarizing relationships between the civil society organisations and the Congolese Armed Forces, who felt attacked and not supported by these groups.


In 2006, faced with this situation, Search for Common Ground took another approach, building buy-in from the Congolese Armed Forces themselves for a programme that would use the military’s own in-house capacity to sensitise their own units and build bridges of cooperation with the communities they were meant to protect.

“We began another type of conversation with them. One about enabling them to become protectors, not perpetrators,” explained Lena Slachmuijlder, SFCG’s Country Director atthe time. “We listened, and heard that deep down, they also wanted to change. They knew that if the communities didn’t trust them, but feared them, that their own security was in danger. And they weren’t proud of their record of abuses. We created educational tools to resonate with the soldiers’ sense of self-esteem.” [1]

SFCG also recognized that part of the obstacle was deep trauma and resulting prejudice and stereotypes by the communities, particularly in eastern DRC. These attitudes prevented the type of information sharing and collaboration that the soldiers depended upon to be able to effectively combat the armed groups and protect the communities under attack. The programme was thus designed to seek to change the perceptions by these communities, and have them participate in the overall reform process of the security sector in the DRC.

The first iteration of the program, entitled “Tomorrow is a New Day: Transforming Security Forces from Perpetrators to Protectors” began in 2006 with a pilot in the South Kivu province. Since 2006, SFCG has expanded the programmenationwide, reaching more than 40,000 Congolese soldiers of all ranks across the country in a programmethat is “about them” and “not against them.”

The project aimed to shift perceptions and attitudes around civil-military relations. It aimed to raise general awareness about the Congolese Armed Forces’ responsibility to respect human and protect civilians and build bridges of trust and collaboration among soldiers and civilians, particularly in the war-affected communities.

A key factor of success was the internal support the project was able to secure. The ‘Armed Forces Pastors’ (“Aumoniers”, in French), which occupied hierarchical ranks within the Congolese Armed Forces, and the Programme of Civic and Patriotic Education, a unit which had been legally mandated by the Congolese Armed Forces Headquarters to train soldiers and that was headed by an experienced and respected General, were in favour of the project. The collaboration with the Education Unit permitted the pilot project to scale to a national level and maintain official buy-in at all stages of the project over the last 10 years.

Some of the program’s key elements were:

Interactive Training Materials for Soldiers

SFCG designed innovative training materials, which the soldiers themselves were able to understand and then deliver to their peers. This included translating human rights, civilian protection, SGBV and conflict transformation training into accessible ‘image boxes’ with simple training manuals, supported by pre-recorded audio sketches in local languages and comic books. The soldiers were trained in how to shift from one-directional communication to participatory methods in their trainings. The soldiers were even trained in how to build improvised participatory theatre sketches to translate the human rights and protection principles into accessible real-life examples in front of their units. SFCG worked with a documentary filmmaking team to produce a curriculum-driven educational film with a focus on sexual violence and masculinity, with a discussion guide, for outreach to the units. SFCG trained soldiers to be able to use this film and facilitate discussions, which included discussions about their role as soldiers, their own trauma, their own sense of strength and masculinity. [2]  

Community Outreach

After the project had gained traction by training thousands of soldiers within the various brigades and battalions, the Armed Forces committees then were coached as to how to design solidarity activities to build bridges of trust with the communities they were meant to protect. The criteria for these events relied on the soldiers and the local civil society organisations’ joint assessment of the most damaged relationships. This meant that, for example, the Congolese Navy initiated actions with the local fishermen; the Military Police initiated collaboration with University Students, and Units in Bukavu worked closely with local women’s organisations. These activities included soccer matches, clean-up activities, town hall meetings, marathons, and longer-term collaborations including joint farming projects.

Changing Social Norms

SFCG also used its expertise in communication for conflict transformation to reach a mass audience through radio and television programmes and comic books. A radio drama series in Lingala and Swahili was broadcast nationwide, featuring a dynamic cast of military and civilian characters whose daily lives reflected the drama, crises and collaborative solutions that were gradually coming to be a reality through the project. The programmes clarified key issues around the Security Sector Reform process, including how civilians and the army could best collaborate to ensure civilian protection. Other magazine format radio programmes reported on efforts to combat impunity by the mobile courts (“audiences foraines”), which were moving around communities to sentence military perpetrators of serious crimes. Hundreds of thousands of comic books were distributed around the country, portraying the negative and positive roles of soldiers and civilians, reinforcing and popularizing the social acceptability of the changes that were underway. Billboards were put up in specific communities, as well as murals painted on the regional military headquarters with powerful imagery demonstrating the protective role of the Congolese Armed Forces working hand in hand with civilians.

These various forms of media also reinforced each other. The main character in the comic book and radio drama was a certain ‘Captain Janvier’; his name became so popular amongst military and civilians as the ‘bad guy’ that it became a frequent reference in every day conversations and discussions within the military units and amongst the general public. SFCG also launched complementary media initiatives, including one called ‘the Real Man’ (“Vrai Djo”), which highlighted examples of men, including soldiers, doing the ‘right thing’ faced with a temptation to abuse or harass a woman. This was also used in outreach and discussions with soldiers and the communities.

Measuring Impact

Within the highly fragile context of DRC, traditional monitoring was often challenging. A major measure of change however was the shift in perception of protection by the civilians before and after the project worked with soldiers deployed in their community. For example, in one evaluation, 54% of the populations of the areas of intervention reported relationships with the military as being good to very good, compared to only 32% in control areas. There were also powerful qualitative measures of change, such as the ability of a military unit that had participated in the programme to undertake an important, high-risk military operation in Katanga, without committing any human rights abuses. And the relationship building between communities and the soldiers led to numerous examples of collaborative problem solving and a de-stigmatization of the relationships.

Overall this programme has inspired multiple projects within Search for Common Ground in Tanzania, Nigeria and Nepal. These experiences continue to reinforce the value of the Common Ground approach to the security sector, grounded in strengthening relationships of collaboration and enabling people to drive forward their own transformation.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.


[1] See (Accessed on 28 August 2014)
[2] See A Soldiers Story: Ending Military Abuses. Found at: (Accessed 28 August 2014).

Case Study

Fiji: Training on Trauma and Conflict Transformation

A series of military coups has left Fijians on all sides of the conflict with a sense of trauma and fear. The military and police have suffered in particular. Many of them perpetrated violence when taking part in repressing public protests against the coups.

The Challenge:
Trauma and stress impact the wellbeing of many people in society and in the security forces.

Theory of Change:
Build the capacity of the security sector to understand the impact of trauma and stress on their society.

Those who are part of Fiji’s longstanding commitment to UN peacekeeping witnessed or experienced violence when serving in peacekeeping missions in Iraq, Lebanon, Sinai, Golan Heights, Sudan, or Timor Leste. Finally, some of the ex-military personal also committed or suffered from violence when participating as mercenaries/private contractors in other conflicts. Fijian security forces thus had ample exposure to trauma, although it was never addressed institutionally. As in many other cultures, state institutions do not address stress and trauma. This work is left to religious authorities or the individual’s private realm. For the most part, superiors simply taught the forces under their command “be tough” and encouraged them not to let stress or trauma affect them. But given the stressful nature of international military deployments and the tense situations with local communities, institutional leaders recognized they needed better understanding of trauma and stress, and ways of handling it.

Then after the 2006 coup, they also commissioned training on community engagements. After the coup, a lot more military officers began taking up posts in government. The military was extending their role into policing and often conducting joint military-police operations within Fiji. But relationships between the military and civil society were hostile. NGOs had largely opposed the military coup. Some NGOs had affiliations with political parties. For these reasons, the military largely distrusted NGOs and questioned their funding and motivations. The experience of Fijian forces abroad, primarily in Iraq, and the experience in the coup contributed to a growing concern that on the military and police use of force on Fijian citizens at home. Despite these mixed feelings and perceptions about NGOs, the military again turned to civil society – this time the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding (PCP), a local peacebuilding NGO that works to transform, reduce and prevent conflict in the Pacific - to conduct debriefing sessions with the military, Fiji Police and Fiji Correction Services about their relationships with communities. Their work began in 2007.The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) first requested training from civil society organizations to broaden their understanding of conflict analysis, restorative justice and trauma awareness for the Officers Training School in 2003, following the coup in 2000. The Fijian civil society organization called ECREA (Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education, and Advocacy) was tasked with developing a course.

Both organizations developed an interactive training approach that emphasized relationship building, peacebuilding skills and processes, and whole-of-community participation.

While trauma and stress are not often topics included in peacebuilding training for either civil society or security forces, understanding these concepts and how to develop resilience is necessary for all stakeholders in any context where violence is present. It is important for civil society and security sector personnel to recognize how trauma at work or in the public can translate into violence in the home as well. Trauma can contribute to gender-based violence. Training in trauma awareness can help people understand the cycles of violence and why traumatized people often go on to traumatize others. Training on how to manage stress and trauma can reduce the likelihood of violence, especially between security forces and civil society.

PCP held discussions with military leaders to assess the needs and types of participants who should be invited for a training on trauma awareness and to conduct a context analysis to ensure workshops took into account the needs and interests of all stakeholders. Together they decided to include all branches of security forces, as all groups needed to learn how to interact with civilians by using communication skills like dialogue and negotiation instead of using force. Workshops covered a range of topics, beginning with conflict analysis, to help security forces recognize that there are different ways of perceiving events and that people’s behaviours are motivated by their diverse perceptions and experiences. Workshops also included lessons on stress and trauma, as well as conflict transformation skills in dialogue, negotiation and mediation.

Often military and police personnel were directed to come and had no choice in attending and/or had no idea what they were attending. They were very experienced officers who worked in both peacekeeping operations, and logistics. They were mostly Indigenous Fijians or “iTaukei” military personnel. The military’s usual mode of instruction was 55-minute lectures, with very little time given for question and answer. Given PCP’s recognition that lectures only make a limited impact, PCP’s teaching style was elicitive and participatory using a combination of visual and interactive methods that reinforced key ideas.

Growing out of the relationships made in these initial trainings, other joint work with the police became possible. PCP staff works with the Fiji Police Force to teach secondary school students and leaders the value of restorative justice. Restorative justice is a process that holds offenders accountable by directly engaging with the victims or those they have harmed. A dialogue between victim and offender allows for both of them to make amends to each other. Unlike punishments that focus on the motives and sentences for perpetrators, restorative justice focuses on how to recompense victims for the suffering they have experienced. Since Fijian teachers can lose their jobs for improper uses of punishment, teachers and school administrators were eager to learn about restorative justice and come up with alternative options for correcting student behaviours.

When 45 Fijian peacekeepers were kidnapped and held in the Golan Heights by a Syrian rebel group in September 2014, there was concern that anti-Muslim feelings from the kidnapping would increase the possibility of violence toward Indo-Fijians, some of whom are Muslim, in the run up to the National Elections. PCP provided advice to assist the Fijian military on how to handle this situation with the affected families in Fiji until the Fijian peacekeepers were eventually freed.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Case Study

Local ownership in security case studies of peacebuilding approaches

Local Ownership Case Studies_GPPAC

From the publication:

This publication is a product of people from forty countries and over one hundred organizations
from coming together over a span of three years. Three roundtables conferences created
opportunities for civil society and security sector leaders to share their case studies and identify
patterns in their lessons.
The inspiration for this report comes from hearing their stories of creative collaboration and
transformative relationships between civil society, police, and military. Find out more about the Local ownership in security case studies of peacebuilding approaches.

Case Study