Thematic Areas

Community Engagement

Community engagement refers to the practice of engaging with different communities across a range of cultural, ethnic, religious and gender backgrounds in order to identify and support local solutions for peace and stability.  Community engagement can be applied to a range of conflict and stabilisation activity; the approaches applied will differ depending on the activity, needs, culture, context, and the operating environment.  See also sections on gender and peacebuilding.

Comprehensive / Integrated Approach

Comprehensive/integrated approach refers to people from different institutions (with particular reference to civilian and military institutions) working together at several levels to achieve common aims. An integrated approach recognises that no one government department has a monopoly over responses to the challenges of stabilisation contexts and that by making best use of the broad range of knowledge, skills and assets of government departments, integrated efforts should be mutually reinforcing.  See also section on planning.


Conflict exists in all societies at all times.  Non-violent resolution is possible when individuals and groups have trust in their governing structures, society and institutions to manage incompatible interests. Conflict becomes a problem when this trust and respective conflict management capacities are absent and conflicting parties choose instead to resort to the use of force to secure their goals.  Addressing the causes and effects of conflict are critical to the stabilisation process.  See also section on peacebuilding.


Counterinsurgency (COIN) refers to a set of activities aimed at supporting a legitimate government's efforts to eliminate - or reduce the impact of - an armed insurgency.  COIN activities aim to influence the real and very practical calculations on the part of the people about which side to support.  COIN activities may also contribute to the stabilisation process.  See also section on stabilisation.

Culture and Ideology

Ideology refers to certain beliefs or narratives. These tend to concern the cause, nature and purpose of life or the universe, and are often regarded as holy, sacred, spiritual or divine. Ideology encompasses religion which includes narratives, symbols and traditions that are intended to give meaning to life, from which morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle can be derived. Religion also has a public aspect reflected in organised behaviours which is important to understand in stabilisation and conflict contexts. Culture is a term with multiple meanings and definitions. At its most simple, it can refer to human behaviour and to the way things are done in a country or part of a country. Culture often encompasses belief systems, values, attitudes, relationships and practices. Cultural analysis can contribute to an understanding of politics and conflict. This, in turn, can help to align stabilisation activities to the locally appropriate context.


Gender relates to the system of personal and social relations through which women and men gain access to power and status within society.  A gendered perspective therefore informs understanding of cultural context and conflict dynamics. Where conflict is perpetrated along gender lines, tailored interventions are required, for example to address gender based violence. See also section on community engagement.


Governance is about the use of power and authority, including how power and resources are acquired, managed and distributed.  It is about how a country manages its affairs; how people mediate their differences, make decisions, and enact policies that affect public life and social and economic development. 

Human Rights and Protection of Civilians

Human Rights:

Violations of human rights are often a driver of violent conflict (discrimination in access to resources etc), which in turn lead to further human rights violations (torture, disappearances etc).  Implementation of human rights principles and standards is critical to reducing or preventing conflict and laying the foundation for sustainable peace.

Protection of Civilians:

During armed conflict civilians face daily threats of violence and death as they find themselves caught up in the middle of a conflict. Despite being protected under international humanitarian and human rights law, civilians may be deliberately targeted by belligerents. These deliberate attacks can include campaigns of sexual violence or deliberate killings to instil fear and coerce compliance from the local population.Protection of civilians refers to activities that may be diplomatic, military, or humanitarian in nature to protect civilians from the effects of conflict. 

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation is a means of tracking progress and assessing impact of activities by gathering data against agreed indicators. It enables intended and unintended consequences of activities to be identified and plans to be reviewed and adapted accordingly. It can support accountability of stabilisation actors and their use of resources.  See also section on planning.

Multilateral/ International Institutions

Multilateral/international institutions refers to those institutions at the international, regional or sub-regional level engaged either in the promotion and maintenance of peace and security or in the provision of assistance (security, technical or financial) to countries recovering from conflict. 

Peace Processes

Peace process refers to a political process in which violent conflict is resolved by peaceful means through using a mixture of politics, diplomacy, changing relationships, negotiation, mediation, and dialogue.  See also sections on peacebuilding, peacekeeping and political settlement.


Peacebuilding is a complex, long-term endogenous process.  It involves a range of measures targeted to both reduce the risk of lapsing or relapsing into violent conflict by addressing the deep-rooted, structural causes of conflict and strengthen national capacities at all levels for conflict management, with the aim of laying the foundation for sustainable peace.  See also sections on peacekeeping, peace processes and conflict.


Peacekeeping has evolved from a primarily military model of observing cease-fires and the separation of forces after inter-state wars, to incorporate a complex model of many elements - military, police and civilian - working together to assist in implementing political agreements to help lay the foundations for sustainable peace.  See also sections on peacebuilding and peace processes.


Stabilisation planning involves the creation of a framework setting out what change an individual or organisation intends to effect and how it will be achieved in a stabilisation context. Stabilisation planning tends to be most effective when it is conducted by representatives from the agencies responsible for a plan's implementation, integrated between civilian and military partners, and occuring at strategic and operational levels.  See also sections on the comprehensive/integrated approach and monitoring and evaluation.

Political Settlement

Political settlement refers to the formal and informal process of bargaining between elites as well as between the state and organised groups in society regarding the organising of power. Political settlement underpins state and state-society relations and forms the relationship between formal and informal institutions and the distribution of power in society. See also sections on peace processes.

Security and Justice

‘Security and justice’ refers to all aspects of a country's ability to meet the range of security and justice needs of citizens. It includes the services offered by both state and non-state entities and how these interact. 


Stabilisation is the process of establishing early peace and security in countries affected by conflict and instability.  Central to the stabilisation process is the promotion of a peaceful political settlement to support a legitimate indigenous government, which can better respond to its people. Stabilisation often requires external support to indigenous efforts and is best undertaken through an integrated approach.  See also section on counterinsurgency and comprehensive/integrated approach.

Strategic Communications

Strategic communication (Strat Comms) refers to the way in which policies and actions are communicated to the public (local and international), in order to build up an alliance of people willing to support desired outcomes. Successful strategic communication is an integral and transformational part of delivery; a two-way process, and key to bringing about change in attitudes, beliefs and behaviours in the people upon whom stabilisation success depends.

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