Paris, February 2016 – The European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) took part during four years (2011-2015) in the European programme EUROsociAL as executive partner of the “citizen security” axis in Costa Rica, Salvador, Guatemala and Panama. Apart from the specific actions implemented in each of these countries, Efus also contributed to developing the “citizen security” aspect of the programme throughout the region together with its partners, the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) and Expertise France, an agency of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The EUROsociAL programme concluded at the end of 2015 after four years of work and cooperation between Europe and Latin America. The objective was to introduce reforms in public policies to enhance social cohesion, notably through sharing knowledge among peers and exchanging experiences among colleague institutions from Latin America and Europe.
Efus’ contribution to EUROsociAL II
Thanks to its recognised expertise in urban security acquired through its network of European local and regional authorities, Efus contributed to achieving the objectives of EUROsociAL II in terms of public policies on citizen security and violence prevention. Efus was tasked with supporting regional governments by drafting methodologies to improve coordination among institutional actors and among the various levels of government.
The main achievements of Efus in the region are:
- In Costa Rica, Efus helped the Vice-Ministry of Justice and Peace to develop a methodology for improving coordination among the relevant institutions and the organisms that are part of the National Commission for the Prevention of Violence and the Promotion of Social Peace (CONAPAZ, according to the Spanish acronym). This methodology was approved by the government, which is now drafting a decree to be submitted to the Presidency for approval and enactment. Furthermore, Efus presented a protocol for co-producing security at the national and territorial levels, which is currently being implemented at the county level.
- In El Salvador, Efus worked with the Vice-Ministry of Justice and Public Security on a plan for the implementation at the local level of the national Plan for a Safe El Savador (Plan El Salvador Seguro, PESS). The objective was to better coordinate the various prevention activities carried out throughout the country.
- In Guatemala, Efus supported the Vice-Ministry of Violence and Crime Prevention by enhancing the capacities of the national managers who assist local authorities for the implementation of the national policy on the prevention of violence. Efus also took part in the drafting of a bill on the prevention of violence, which will officialise the policy of the Guatemalan government on this issue.
- In Panama, Efus worked with the Ministry of Public Security on the coordination of the actors involved in the national citizen security strategy. Efus contributed to setting up a donors’ roundtable and designed a methodology for the coordination between the national government and regional instances.
- At the regional level, Efus and its consortium partners developed a “Regional model for an integral policy on violence and crime prevention”, which is used as a basis for the drafting and implementation of citizen security and violence prevention policies. Efus also produced three operational guidebooks to facilitate the implementation of the regional model. Governments of many Latin American countries welcomed these initiatives as particularly helpful.
All the activities carried by Efus in the region were inspired by the work it has led within the network as regards methodologies, innovative practices, and exchanges among peers. We must also emphasise the key role played by our experts, both from Latin America and Europe, who intervened throughout the programme.
Members of Efus have contributed their experience and expertise: Josep Lahosa (City of Barcelona), Gian Guido Nobili (Region of Emilia-Romagna, IT), Paulo Machado, Vasco Franco, Angels Vila, Francesc Guillen, Santi Herrero, Begoña Curto, Vicente Valentin (all five from the Generalitat of Catalunya, ES), Carlos Rabaçal, Luis Bucho (City of Setúbal, PT), Chris Williams (London Borough of Brent, GB), alongside the Latin American experts : Laura Carrera, Claudia Laub and the El Agora team, Carlos Mendoza and the PEC team, Oscar Aguilar, Verónica Martínez, Markus Gottsbacher, Julio Solis, Ximena Anwandter, Lorena Cohan, Myriam Merchan, Jorge Cardozo and Monica Zalaquett.
What EUROsociAL brought to Efus
Participating in the EUROsociAL programme allowed Efus to confirm that its human rights-based principles can be applied outside of Europe. The exchanges among peers, which were the basis of the programme, also enriched our network.
Josep Lahosa, director of the Spanish Forum for Prevention and Urban Security (FEPSU according to the Spanish acronym), said that, “one of the most interesting aspects of the programme was that Latin American and European experts were part of the working groups, exchanging information and knowledge. This fostered innovation. It was not so much about acquiring knowledge than about ushering innovative processes.”
Chris Williams, Head of Community Safety at the London Borough of Brent (GB), said that, “As a European advising the programme, it has been fascinating to see the different development of good practices in crime prevention across various Latin American states. In particular, the adoption of neighbourhood policing approaches appear to bear rich rewards in terms of crime performance and citizen satisfaction, which can be especially challenging in places that have previously seen problematic relationships between the police and citizens. There are particular examples of good practices that many European cities could learn from and apply to urban environments on our side of the Atlantic.”
The programme was also an occasion for Efus to re-think some issues that may seem quite theoretical but are in fact very real and demand reflection.
Francesc Guillén, representing the Generalitat (autonomous government) of Catalonia (ES), said that:
“EUROsociAL made us reflect on our security policies, in particular those aimed at preventing violence, since it was its primary objective. The programme emphasised the importance of people and relationships, because social cohesion and community are the cornerstone of a society where people can live in peace, with acceptable levels of violence. The programme also showed how important it is to clearly identify the problems and the actors, and to carefully design strategies and methods so that the various stakeholders act in a coordinated manner and that the objectives are achieved, rather than having at the end a series of uncoordinated or even contradictory activities.”
Even though Efus’ work is essentially centred on Europe, participating in programmes of this kind out of Europe is an opportunity to showcase its achievements and to compare them with practices put in place in totally different contexts. Furthermore, in our globalised world, it is interesting to gather information on the security issues of other regions of the world, as they can have an impact on Europe.