As recent events have demonstrated, apparent localised problems have broader consequences and impacts. In fact, the collateral consequences of the globalisation process have fostered a revamped sense of insecurity and risk.
The culmination of this phenomenon is a shared feeling of continuous dynamic threat, no longer confined to national borders.
This cross-border threat is especially pressing when dealing with security hazards. Such became clear as hundreds of European citizens left their home countries to join foreign conflicts, mainly in the Middle East and Ukraine. As these foreign fighters are now returning, a shared sense of numb threat was elicited, causing rigid security barriers to be reshaped.
In a fluid and borderless Europe, different countries have been called to cooperate closely. This inter-border collaboration translates into macro, meso, and micro cooperation schemes, which require the active participation of various agencies, institutions, stakeholders, and actors.
In the security field, cooperation is pivotal, as it allows the cementing of transnational and multi-sectoral relations, which in turn provide the required common answers to the complex, faceless and borderless challenges faced.
The same principle of cooperation applies to the P/CVE field since its major challenges are transnational in nature. They present regional similarities and require innovative co-joint work at the macro level and at the regional meso and micro levels.
However, to deliver adequate security and P/CVE solutions, significant attention needs to be placed on activating and mobilising the local stakeholders. Despite the common challenges, no suitable solution can follow a one-size fits all approach., Hence, practices must be adapted to the local setting, reflecting context-specific circumstances and needs.
For these efforts to be successful, various organisations, institutions and stakeholders need to be mobilised, activating both top-down and bottom-up approaches in inter and multi-agency cooperation solutions. In this strategy, the local level is prioritised to develop tailored, effective, and efficient responses.
To this effect, a multitude of actors across governmental and non-governmental levels can be highlighted as key agents, including security institutions and professionals, such as law enforcement, judicial, correctional and policy-making bodies. However, civil society institutions, health and educational services, alongside the community itself, can and should be emphasised, allowing for an integrated knowledge transfer with practical reflections.
Despite the evident need to adopt a cross-sectoral approach, its practical application is often demanding since trust, information sharing, and specific competencies can be lacking. Such is especially concerning in the security and the P/CVE fields, where a culture of classified information is typically found across different jurisdictions and institutions, limiting the willingness to cooperate. To mitigate these barriers, various recommendations have been put forward by international bodies, sharing core characteristics, namely:
– Build trust and professional relationships with different stakeholders from different levels, cementing trust based on professional roles instead of personal acquaintances;
– Develop a joint base of grounded and comprehensive knowledge in which different professionals know how to work towards the same goal, encompassing a shared language script and tools;
– Account for diversity, mainly at the local level, understanding how context-specific characteristics impact the devised solutions.
– Devise information-sharing schemes, easing communication, where stakeholders are given different pre-established roles, and are provided with a clear understanding of the procedures to be followed.
Therefore, to create effective, sustainable solutions in cross-border and cross-sectoral cooperation, a whole-of-society approach must be activated. It requires an emphasis on dialogue, collaboration, and partnerships, for which trust and knowledge are paramount.
However, in the security realm, especially in the P/CVE field, cooperation can be challenging within and beyond national borders, due to the topic’s sensitivity. This is the gap that the HOPE – ‘Holistic Radicalisation Prevention Initiative’ – is actively aiming to respond to.
The HOPE project recognises how security challenges are common problems for which a joint integrated action is required. However, it acknowledges that this integrated action must first listen to local and contextual specificities. Hence, and considering the need to develop cross-border and cross-sectoral cooperation, the HOPE project has cemented a Network dedicated to cooperation and information-sharing efforts.
By bringing together various practitioners from different countries, institutions and levels, the HOPE Radicalisation Network is establishing new communication routes. The platform is allowing new trust relations to flourish, and providing its members with the right opportunities to exchange knowledge and practices towards innovative transparent solutions.
Moreover, to solidify a cross-sectoral line of work in which different practitioners and agencies share a knowledge base, the HOPE project is now beginning to pilot its newly-designed, multi-disciplinary, and tailored training programmes.
By capacitating different professionals in critical skills, the project stresses the importance of creating a continuum of intervention and support, whilst ensuring its long-term sustainability and impact. Professionals from the prison, probation, and communitarian settings from Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia will be able to comprehend international best practices and know how to tailor them. This will allow them to align with the European Union’s sustainable integrated cooperation goals.
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Canters, F. & Donk, M. (2019). Building bridges. Radicalisation Awareness Network. https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/system/files/2019-08/ran_exit_pp_building_bridges_prague_050619_en.pdf.
McCall, C. (2013). European Union cross-border co-operation and conflict amelioration. Science and Polity, 17(2), 193-216;
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. (2020). A whole-of-society approach to preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism: A guidebook for central Asia. OSCE. https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/a/7/444340_0.pdf
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