Improving the understanding and use of participatory approaches in EU security-building programmes

This report was produced under the Initiative for Peacebuilding, an EC funded project to develop and promote knowledge and expertise on conflict prevention and peace-building and recommend practical ways to implement people-centred approaches to security building activities. The project draws together the complementary geographic and thematic expertise of 10 civil society organisations (and their networks) with offices across the EU and in conflict-affected countries.

Over the past decade or so, the EU has gradually adopted the concept of ‘human security’ in its support for security and justice programming. A commitment to human security implies that security and justice strategies and programmes should proactively seek to take into account and address citizens’ needs and concerns, as primary recipients of security and justice provision. One way to ensure these requirements are met is to promote public participation in the design, implementation and monitoring of security and justice mechanisms.

The EU has a number of policies, tools and frameworks which commit its institutions to taking a ‘participatory approach’ to programming, including in the areas of security and justice. These commitments are gradually, if unevenly, being translated into practice. However, research by the Initiative for Peacebuilding (IfP) Security Cluster has identified a number of institutional, cultural and operational challenges which hinder the understanding and use of participatory approaches by EU institutions. This paper gives an overview of the challenges faced by EU actors in understanding and using participatory approaches and suggests steps that EU institutions can take to overcome them.


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