Restoring Trust between Police and Communities in Ethiopia - Zenebe’s Story

Before the development of a trust building programme between communities and the police in four Woredas (district-level administrative units) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, there were elevated crime rates, particularly in property crimes like vandalism and theft. Simultaneously, violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery remained at a moderate level. Through a partnership between the Ethiopian Police University (EPU) and Interpeace, the implementation of a community security approach, led to improved trust between the police and the community, resulting in notable declines in crime rates and increases in people’s sense of safety.

Zenebe*, a married father of four children and a resident of one of the Woreda witnessed the transformative impact of the trust building dialogues organised by Interpeace. These dialogues provide platforms for community representatives and police officers to discuss local peace, develop problem-solving strategies, and implement capacity-building initiatives. In particular, the scanning, analysis, response, and assessment (SARA) problem-solving approach facilitated joint efforts in identifying and addressing community concerns, supported by the Community GIS Tool (CGIST), which helps to map and analyse data for informed decision-making on safety and crime prevention.

Reflecting on the past, Zenebe recalls the historical marginalisation of community members in police operations, leading to a disconnect between community priorities and police actions, breeding mistrust and suspicion. The trust building programme marked a shift towards collaboration, aiming to involve residents in shaping police services.

"Most of the programme activities were new for all of us. The police in this country did not have the culture to genuinely engage community groups to take an active role in setting priorities and service needs,” Zenebe recalls.

Zenebe recalls how the programme introduced new practices, such as engaging community groups in decision-making processes, fostering inclusivity, and taking proactive measures to enhance community safety. Initiatives like the "shay-bunna" (coffee-tea drinking session) forums, where residents held weekly discussions over a cup of tea or coffee, have strengthened social bonds and facilitated dispute resolution and resource mobilisation.

Following the programme’s implementation, Zenebe and other community members feel empowered to influence security policing in their Woreda., The initiative proves to be an eye-opening experience for both residents and the local police department, instilling a sense of unity and optimism about the future of security. 81% of the community members' responses reflected this positive outcome.

"Because of my participation in the trust-building programme, I am now able to effectively collaborate with the local police in problem identification and resolution. I now believe that the police service at the Woreda level adequately represents my needs and priorities. The local police department is now using inclusive approaches in planning and delivering police services. For example, the police department invited community representatives, including myself, to provide feedback by 2023. This is really impressive, and I've never seen anything like it in my life," says Zenebe.

While celebrating achievement, Zenebe emphasises the importance of sustained engagement from stakeholders to ensure long-term success.

"The local police department's commitment to working closely with community groups to maintain peace at the grassroots level has improved significantly. However, I am convinced that community representatives and police officers require ongoing support to maintain programme outcomes. More specifically, various collaborative problem-solving pieces of training and the CGIST tool are critical to increasing community members and police officers' capacity to deal with community concerns on a long-term basis at the district level."

Zenebe's journey reflects a positive transformation in police-community relations. Sustaining these gains requires collaborative commitment from all stakeholders, aligning with Interpeace’s vision of unity for lasting peace at the grassroots level. As the community looks to the future, expanding the trust-building programme to all regions of Ethiopia remains essential for sustained progress and peacebuilding efforts.

*The name has been changed to ensure security.

UN Security Council gives a welcome boost to Youth, Peace and Security

The United Nations Security Council has adopted its third resolution on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS): UNSCR 2535. It signals the Security Council’s determination to drive forward practical action on YPS, and to do so in an integrated and coordinated way across the United Nations system as a whole.

There are still troubling indications that young people are seen as a ‘problem’ at risk of being radicalised and caught up in security challenges worldwide. The challenge now is to ensure that the Security Council’s political will is converted with resources and actions into effective implementation and delivery.

Interpeace was active in the lead-up to UNSC 2535 and is developing initiatives to support its implementation. Interpeace will also be publishing policy and practice briefings on YPS that are co-authored with young peacebuilders.

Crédits photo : CENAP

Co-sponsored by the Dominican Republic and France, the new UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2535 on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) is the third and also the most action-oriented YPS resolution adopted by the UN Security Council so far. The Resolution provides guidance for the implementation of the YPS agenda both at the country and headquarters level in the UN system. The Resolution raises the bar in five key ways, which have been analysed in this briefing paper. In sum:

First, UNSCR 2535 cements the priority of the YPS in the UN by requiring joined-up action across the operational siloes across the UN, requiring the UN Secretary-General to submit biennial reports on the implementation YPS agenda, and requiring YPS thus to appear regularly on the Security Council’s agenda. This ensures that action will occur and that there will be accountability and transparency across the UN system.

Secondly, UNSCR 2535 reasserts and tightens the relationship between the global YPS agenda and the ‘Sustaining Peace’ agenda, and also consolidates connections with the ‘Women, Peace and Security’ agenda including a repeated commitment to the distinct experiences and roles of young women.

Thirdly, UNSCR 2535 recognises the demographic of youth through a peacebuilding lens and offers a powerful – and essential – vehicle to integrate peacebuilding and prevention efforts across all phases of peace and conflict cycles, not just in post-conflict contexts.

Fourth, UNSCR 2535 introduces new political commitments through its emphasis on meaningful participation of youth. This also goes beyond formally mediated peace processes, by acknowledging the value of youth participation in post-conflict humanitarian context including reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery effort as well as in reconciliation processes. This builds positively on the two previous Security Resolutions on YPS (UNSCR 2250 of 2015 and UNSCR 2419 of 2018).

Fifthly, and perhaps of greatest significance, UNSCR 2535 recognises for the first time, “the structural barriers that limit the participation and capacity of young people”, acknowledging that this particularly impacts young women. It makes a reference to “protecting civic and political space” where young people can legitimately and freely express themselves, which is arguably precedent-setting in bridging the peace and security, and human rights pillars of the UN.

Finally, though, UNSCR 2535 also restores the problematic reference to the threat of youth radicalisation that had been excised from the earlier UNSCR 2419, as well as from the recent Presidential Statement which was adopted following the open debate organised by South Africa on “Youth Silencing the Guns by 2020”. In this respect, Resolution 2535 runs the risk of reinforcing the policy panic on youth and violent extremism and the ‘securitisation’ of the YPS agenda.

Photo Credit: Interpeace.

The concern about young people and extremist forms of violence can only be addressed satisfactorily when meaningful efforts are made to counter the “violence of exclusion” of young people.This sentiment was expressed by young people themselves in the “Missing Peace: Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security” report. Specifically through its reference to the United Nations Youth 2030 Strategy of the Secretary-General, the Resolution calls on governments to invest in the resilience, resourcefulness and inclusion of young people to build peace, rather than in risk-based approaches which project young people as a potential threat, alienate them, close down their arenas of political participation, and inhibit their engagement in peacebuilding.

Next Steps

As a practical follow-up to this Resolution, Interpeace plans to develop initiatives to support the implementation of UNSCR 2535, including in the areas of education for resilience; deepening young people’s participation in peace processes; developing youth-oriented ‘peace responsive’ peacebuilding programmes in the field; and, engaging in YPS through the intersection between peacebuilding and human rights.

In anticipation of the 5th Anniversary of UNSCR 2250 (the first ever Resolution on YPS), Interpeace will also produce a series of new policy and practice briefs co-authored by and amplifying the voices of young peacebuilders themselves. These policy and practice briefs will be published on this website in the coming months.

Click ici to read the full analysis.

Nô obi mindjer ku mininu - Pratiques de justice au village : un regard sur les mécanismes traditionnels de résolution de conflits dans les régions de Gabú, Oio et Tombali - Sommaire exécutif

Cette analyse vise à contribuer à la discussion sur les mécanismes traditionnels de résolution des conflits, en accordant une attention particulière aux conflits impliquant des femmes et des enfants.

En particulier, ce projet de recherche vise à élaborer une analyse pouvant servir de base aux actions des autorités locales et internationales dans le secteur de la justice, guidant leur action vers l'intégration du système de justice traditionnel dans une réforme plus large du secteur de la justice en Guinée-Bissau.

Nô obi mindjer ku mininu - Justice practices in the village: a view over traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution in the Gabu, Oio and Tombali regions - Executive Summary

This analysis aims to contribute to the discussion on traditional mechanisms for conflict resolution, with particular attention to conflicts involving women and children.

Particularly, this research project aims to elaborate an analysis that can serve as a basis for the actions of local and international authorities in the justice sector, guiding their action towards the integration of the traditional justice system in a wider reform of the justice sector in Guinea-Bissau.

Nô obi mindjer ku mininu - Práticas de justiça na tabanca: Um olhar sobre os mecanismos tradicionais de resolução de conflitos nas regiões de Gabú, Oio e Tombali

Esta análise visa contribuir para a discussão sobre os mecanismos tradicionais de resolução de conflitos, com especial atenção para os conflitos que envolvem mulheres e crianças.

Nomeadamente, este projeto de pesquisa pretende elaborar uma análise que possa servir de base para as ações das autoridades locais e internacionais no setor da justiça, orientando-as para a integração do sistema de justiça tradicional numa reforma mais ampla do setor da justiça na Guiné-Bissau.

Exister par le gbonhi: Engagement des adolescents et jeunes dits ‘microbes’ dans la violence à Abobo