3. Organise National Dialogue Forum on Security and Justice Vision and Future Policy

General Description

The broad national consultation process should lead to the development of a set of issues to tackle during the national dialogue forum. Those usually include three aspects:

  • Current priorities in state thinking on national security threats and concerns
  • Community needs in terms of human security and justice
  • Main aspirations, values and goals that the stakeholders converge towards.

Issues should be examined from an analytical point of view and be clustered into categories and in order of priority as relevant to the context. Some national security policies can be quite comprehensive and attempt to include strategy and concrete action plans all-in-one. Others remain purely at the level of policy discourse. We recommend that the national dialogue forum preparation remains at the strategic level and only tackle issues related to the shared common values and objectives that both the community and the authorities have highlighted.

Shared Vision

The first part of the national dialogue forum should focus on constructing a vision statement in a participatory manner. A shared sense of a desired future is often referred to as a shared vision because it is a specific set of ideas formulated in a way that invokes the imagination and makes the future seem more tangible, real and possible. It weaves together the goals, purposes and values that are embraced by the stakeholders and expresses what they are committed to achieve, why the undertaking is important to them, and how they will conduct themselves along the way. While each stakeholder's personal vision may be slightly different, the shared vision serves to connect and align them. It acts as a guiding beacon, drawing stakeholders' attention away from relatively minor differences and tactical details to focus it on the big picture: the key shared goals, purposes and values that bring them together and inspire them.  
These terms can mean different things to different people and this can cause confusion that undermines visioning efforts. It is important, therefore, that a clear, coherent and conceptually sound set of definitions is established and agreed with stakeholders up front. While there may be no “right” definitions, the following are a good starting point:

Goal and Purpose

A goal describes what an individual or group aspires to become, to achieve or to create. Purposes and goals are similar terms in that they both refer to a desired future end state toward which effort is directed. While goals are aspirations that have a definite, measurable end, purposes are aspirations that generally have no measurable end but describe the reason for which effort is made or for which something exists. Purposes generally describe why a system or organisation exists, what it does, the value it provides and for whom, and how it contributes to the overarching vision.

To illustrate the subtle distinction between goals and purposes, consider the following possible goal and purpose statements for a police service:

  • Goal: to provide our citizens with the lowest crime rate in Africa
  • Purpose: to serve and protect

Often the above components are synthesised into a single vision statement that is crafted to express the essence of the shared vision and present it in a way that captures the imagination, evokes a strong positive emotional response and inspires people to contribute to its realisation. This statement is usually complemented by articulation of the various components from which it was derived, including the core components described above but sometimes supplemented or replaced by related concepts such as guiding principles, needs or interests. It is very common for purposes to be synthesised into a single purpose or mission statement, which articulates why a system or organisation exists, what it does to contribute to the achievement of the vision, and what constructive role it plays.


In addition to the vision statement, national dialogue fora are usually useful to identify a set of values that complete the vision statement. Values are guiding ideas or principles that define how an individual or group believes things should be, because it is inherently ethically "right", and/or it is necessary to achieve their most important goals and purposes.
For instance, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out a set of values, such as "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person", that aim to provide a foundation for "freedom, justice and peace in the world".
Alternatively, the values written on a war monument, such as loyalty, sacrifice and honour, describe qualities that people believed were necessary in time of war for their community to survive and be victorious.
Because of their essential role in the achievement of important purposes and goals, values tend to be held with strong emotional attachment.
As guiding ideas or principles, values imply certain ways of thinking and behaving. For instance, if we are to be true to a value of trust, then we must be honest with others and expect them to be honest with us.
Personal values become shared values when they are aligned with shared goals and purposes. In other words, shared values define how people within a group agree things should be, because it is inherently ethically "right" and/or it is necessary for them to achieve both their own personal goals and purposes (therefore encompassing personal values), and those of the group.
Values, once shared and agreed upon, can become implicit or explicit codes of conduct, rules or policies within a community, organisation, team or other group. As such, they can not only guide behaviour, but also serve as a means for holding people within the group accountable for their behaviour.
The final outputs of the National Dialogue Forum should be a clear road map for way forward with indicative timelines for delivering the final security and justice policy document, as well as a report reflecting the main issues discussed and the conclusions made by the participants.