Last month Clingendael Academy provided a three-day negotiation training to Tunisian Local Security Committee members from Ben Guerdane and Zarzis, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The 2011 revolution in Tunisia, and the regime that preceded it, had negatively shaped relationships between citizens and state security forces.
As a response, UNDP initiated a system of Local Security Committees: a form of community policing that brings together security forces, local and national authorities, and civil society, with the aim of bridging the gap between security actors and the civilian population. In this context, negotiation and mediation skills are crucial for members of these committees as they facilitate communication and cooperation across diverse sectors of society, and navigate positions, interests, and needs of various actors.
A reflection from a participant:
“With the tools of this training, we can be a link for any conflict that can appear between citizens and between citizens and the authorities. Whenever there is a problem, we can intervene and be the mediator.”
By engaging in discussions as well as interactive role plays and simulations that held many similarities to their own context, participants increased their understanding of different negotiation strategies, the role of behaviour in negotiation and mediation processes, and how to effectively deal with community conflicts. Importantly, participants mentioned that their understanding and empathy for the work of those societal actors that occupy positions different to their own grew thanks to the role plays.
This was the first training of a longer-term collaboration between Clingendael Academy and UNDP Tunisia to provide various Local Security Committees with the necessary negotiation and mediation skills to positively contribute to local security mechanisms in their communities.