The OVERALL OBJECTIVE of this project is to provide an alternative and deepened understanding based on empirical evidence of how to handle conflicts within intercultural contexts in democratic societies in order to set up security solutions for citizens and communities.

From this general objective several SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES are derived; they generally relate to concrete work packages:

OBJECTIVE ONE – To develop a coherent theoretical framework for an alternative understanding of security and justice, which comprises:

  • Critically analysing the existing epistemologies of thinking, talking about, and doing justice in current democratic societies, especially in relation to the discourse on human security. This also implies challenging current risk and insecurity perceptions especially related to intercultural settings by questioning the ontology and ethics of ‘self’ and ‘other’ and their relation.
  • Offering a new theoretical understanding based on alternative epistemologies of doing justice and enhancing security in democratic societies on how to tackle conflict, especially in intercultural settings in a constructive and transformative way.
  • Analysing RJ as an alternative academic and policy oriented discourse to the current dominant discourses on justice and human security.
  • Studying the existing RJ models and their potential application and relevance to conflicts in an intercultural context and possible implications for European policies.

OBJECTIVE TWO – To develop empirically applicable knowledge on conflict and conflict transformation in intercultural settings, which comprises:

  • Undertaking an analysis of ‘conflict’ in intercultural contexts, of conflict transformation mechanisms and security perceptions.
  • Studying the role of dialogical processes and possible contributions from civil society in conflict transformation at individual and societal level.
  • Studying the role of gender and age in conflict resolution approaches.
  • Investigating conflict transformative processes in an intercultural context at three different levels (micro-meso-macro) in four different settings.

OBJECTIVE THREE – To design, apply and evaluate concrete action models in four different intercultural conflict settings, based on an alternative understanding of justice and security and on existing RJ models. The sites under study cover the different levels of conflict (micro-meso-macro):

  • Dealing with everyday conflicts at the micro-level between local residents and residents with migrant background in public/social housing (Vienna). The action research will focus on the potential of active participation of citizens and of civil society organisations (NGOs), aiming at enhancing security and diminishing feelings of insecurity.
  • Dealing with meso-level conflicts in a small town with tensions between Roma and non-Roma inhabitants (Hungary). The action research will focus on finding out how and at what points restorative theory and practice can be integrated into the existing institutional structure with special focus on the justice and law-enforcement system.
  • Dealing with interethnic conflicts at meso- and macro-level (Serbia). The emphasis will be on the involvement of citizens from multiethnic communities in three regions, with special attention to victims (Serbs, Albanians, Croats, and Muslims), to observe their roles in democratic processes for peace building and conflict resolution.
  • Dealing with civil conflicts at meso- and macro-level (Northern Ireland). The focus will be on the relationship between the state system and local communities in the context of the violent conflict and the restorative potential of promoting active citizenship and community development. Local capacity to resolve intra- and inter-communal conflict will be evaluated in projects dealing with problems between local community and gangs of youths; between long term residents and recent immigrants; and inter-community sectarian conflict.

OBJECTIVE FOUR – To analyse the findings from the four pilot settings in a comparative way and to advance knowledge by integrating the empirical results into theoretical insights and by adapting the latter where appropriate:

  • The dissemination of the findings from the action models developed at the four different sites is conceptualised as an ongoing cyclical process of discussing, adapting and further applying the models developed and tested.
  • At the end of the project, innovative and exemplary RJ based models and procedures of conflict resolution will be available to statutory and non-statutory agencies which are confronted daily with problems of intercultural/interethnic conflicts throughout Europe.
  • The project will demonstrate in a very concrete and visible way how alternative understandings of security and justice issues in democratic societies can be constructed through participatory processes from citizens.