How to handle conflicts within intercultural contexts in democratic societies

Partners: KU Leuven (Belgium), Norwegian Social Research (NOVA) (Norway), European Forum for Restorative Justice (Belgium), Institute for the Sociology of Law and Criminology (IRKS) (Austria), Foresee Research Group (Hungary), Victimology Society of Serbia (Serbia) and University of Ulster (UK).

Project coordinator: Prof. Dr. Ivo Aertsen (Belgium)

Project manager: Inge Vanfraechem (Belgium)

Duration: 48 months (01/02/2012– 31/01/2016)

Funder: EU – 7th Framework programme (FP7), Security Theme

Summary of the project: The project aimed 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. In its methodology, it combined theoretical research on three large topics as:

  • Alternative epistemologies of justice and security
  • Conflict intervention in intercultural contexts 
  • Existing methods of restorative justice and their relevance in intercultural conflicts

The action research was carried out in four different countries with different types, levels and settings of conflicts (with local and migrant residents in social housing neighbourhood in Austria, with roma and non-roma inhabitants in a small town in Hungary, three different kinds of conflicts involving gangs, immigrants and different religious groups in the United Kingdom, and in conflicts between Serbs, Albanians, Muslims and Croats in Serbia).

The role of the European Forum in this project:

The research done by the EFRJ consisted of two main areas:

  1. Studying existing RJ models and their potential application to conflicts in an intercultural context. This work aims at identifying and analysing existing RJ models, such as mediation, conferencing, peace circles and social mediation based on literature already exist and analysing their potential application to conflicts in an intercultural context.
  2. Analysing the relevance of RJ in intercultural settings and possible implications for EU policies. EU policies were studied more into detail: with respect to security and justice, with respect to diversity and intercultural tensions, and with respect to RJ (and to bring them together in one perspective). Through a document analysis and literature study, the dealing with conflicts in an intercultural setting and the potential role of restorative justice were analysed in order to estimate its potential impact.

In this project, dissemination activities were considered as part of the research, not only as publication of results at the end of the project. Therefore, ongoing dissemination activities helped the research and the feedback from the partners, professionals and citizens involved in the action research.

One tool for this was the film making in which local researchers at action research venues and citizens affected in intercultural conflicts were actively involved. The film was assembled in different layers to be used for different purposes, for example for trainings, national and European awareness, project communication, documentary etc.

As part of the dissemination, the EFRJ in cooperation with national partners organised four regional workshops for sharing the experiences gained during local project activities and action research. Different kinds of written and online publication helped to share experiences gained during this four years work.

Project website:
Project blog:
Project films: