In the peace & security sector, we’ve recently come to the realisation that policy initiatives tend to get co-opted by local elites. This is very dangerous in situations where government is viewed with suspicion, or where particular regions or community groups have been marginalised.
The result is increasing demand for more “inclusive” approaches. Over the last few years we’re hearing this from even very conservative institutions: the UN’s recent reviews of peacekeeping and peacebuilding; the Sustainable Development Goals, and in the New Deal for Conflict-Affected and Fragile States.
The problem is that the thinking remains embroynic, and concrete examples thin on the ground. Most development and diplomatic actors still think about national ownership in a traditional way, meaning leadership by Ministers and Ministries. This attitude is still more obvious for “hard security” interventions like stabilisation and peacekeeping, where we are downright uncomfortable dealing with non-elites.
So here are my practical questions:
Where have you seen effective approaches to community engagement—urban or rural—in security and stabilisation initiatives?
What are realistic goals? How should we think about the intended results, as well as workable approaches, for engagement?