Research consortium

  • Main applicant: Dr. O.L. Lamloum (International Alert, United Kingdom)

Project information

Four years after the Arab spring, Tunisia remains the most successful case of political transition from authoritarian regime in the region. Since 2011, Tunisia has adopted a new construction, held two elections and seen a widening space for civil society. Despite these advances, political violence and unrest is increasing and there is growing concern around insecurity along the country's borders. This challenge requires security governance policies focused on inclusion and human security to restore communities confidence in the state and ensure marginalised voices are heard. Empirical evidence is required to improve the ability of policy-makers to use evidence to understand and address the drivers and underlying causes of Tunisia's border governance and security problems. policy-makers have little knowledge of the complex dynamics of border security. To bridge this gap the project will: provide new insights and evidence through participatory research and policy advice, and; link decision makers with existing evidence from community engagement approaches to border security. The evidence and tools gathered and generated through this multi-disciplinary research will be used to inform policy-makers, security practitioners and other stakeholders so that they can better address the needs of border communities and develop more inclusive border governance and security strategies.

This project undertook participatory research into the needs and perceptions of local communities living in the highly marginalized Tunisian border regions of Dehiba and Ben Guerdane, along the border with Libya. This is the first time that researchers have attempted to look beyond the issues of insecurity and terrorist activity that plague this region, to their root causes.

The research finds that the tendency of outsiders to see the border with Libya as a source of terrorism, stigmatizes and further marginalizes the area. Policy makers fail to see the open border as a means of survival for a highly marginalized population facing extreme levels of unemployment and low development indicators.

The research authors argue that policy makers should base a strategy for the development of Dehiba and Ben Guerdane on an evidenced understanding of the role the border plays in people’s lives and livelihoods. Securing local development needs to be central to strategies to secure the border, moving beyond hard security approaches to adopt the more holistic concept of human security.

Project results