The presence of various security forces, whether it be the Gendarmerie in South Serbia or the newly-established Kosovo Security Force (KSF), continues to be source of instability and tension for local communities throughout the Western Balkans. These sentiments of mistrust are further reinforced by failures to adequately investigate alleged violations of human rights and acts of intimidation by members of the security forces. Without sufficient confidence in the willingness and capacity of the local police and security forces to protect all citizens, individuals and groups often feel it necessary to provide for their own security. To counter this dynamic, TransConflict works to strengthen the capacity and coordination of civil society organizations (CSOs) to provide appropriate consultation and communication mechanisms that contribute to improving community relations with the security forces throughout the region.
Projects and Initiatives:
A vibrant civil society can participate in confidence building efforts at the local level in a plethora of formal and informal ways. By monitoring and encouraging respect for the rule of law and human rights, and by articulating and communicating the security needs and interests of the local community to politicians, policy-makers and the media, CSOs broaden the scope of the debate on security-related issues. CSOs, particularly women’s organizations and those representing marginalised voices, also have an important watchdog function to perform; holding authorities accountable for their actions through lobbying, public awareness and advocacy campaigns. CSOs can also facilitate dialogue and negotiation between various stakeholders, including security sector institutions and the local population, thereby enhancing local ownership and inclusion through the involvement of diverse groups in discussions around security-related issues .
TransConflict aims to help overcome a number of barriers that currently prevent CSOs from fulfilling such potential. The prime obstacle is the lack of expertise and capacity of CSOs, particularly with respect to security sector issues, combined with a lack of trust and transparency between CSOs and the security sector, which makes it difficult for the former to access key decision-makers. These problems are compounded by a lack of coordination between CSOs, thereby undermining their capacity to collectively advocate on issues of concern related to the security sector. To ensure that these mechanisms are more participatory, comprehensive and responsive, women’s organizations, representatives of vulnerable groups and the media have a key role to play. Women’s organisations, for instance, can enhance gender-responsive security sector oversight by providing policy advice on gender issues and international agreements; whilst the media have an important role to play in promoting public scrutiny of the security sector.