In 2005, an intense national dialogue took place in Guatemala focusing on the dramatic increase of homicides - around 5 000 yearly - and several donors tried to strengthen the National Civil Police's and the Public Ministry's capacity to investigate and prosecute homicide cases. Still, there was a tremendous lack of knowledge regarding the weaknesses and strengths of the justice and security system in this area and no baseline to inform better programming. In collaboration with the government and in dialogue with the donor community through the coordination body “Petit Comité de Seguridad y Justica”, Sweden supported the production and political follow up of the baseline study “Crime Against Life – A Study of 553 Homicides Committed in 2005-2006 and the Performance of the Justice System” together with the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights (IIDH). The purpose was to create a basis for SSR and to foster a political dialogue on necessary changes.
The third Annual General Meeting of the Association for Security Sector Education and Training (ASSET) took place from 7 - 9 March 2010 in Antigua, Guatemala. As Chair of the ASSET Coordinating Committee and host to the ASSET Secretariat, DCAF/ ISSAT attended the AGM and also assist the host of the 2011 AGM– Instituto de Ensenanza para el Desarrollo Sostenible (IEPADES) – in preparations for the meeting.
Overall objectives of the meeting included:
ISSAT was requested to support the OECD INCAF Secretariat’s project to develop operational advice on how challenges in respect of ownership, programme management, monitoring, and results definition could be better addressed in security and justice engagements by using a “process approach”. Such advice needs to show senior international decision makers how “domestic” imperatives (political and organizational) can be combined with the requirements for effective engagement in long and uncertain transformational security and justice change processes.
As part of this project ISSAT was requested to review the EU’s ‘Programa de Apoyo a la Reforma de la Justicia’ (PARJ) programme and the USAID’s Programme Against Violence and Impunity (PAVI) to look at concrete options to improve security and justice programming.
In 2005, an intense national dialogue was taking place in Guatemala on the dramatic increase of homicides. Several donors tried to strengthen the National Civil Police’s and the Public Ministry’s capacity to investigate and prosecute homicide cases. There was a tremendous lack of knowledge regarding the weaknesses and strengths of the justice and security system in this area and there was no baseline to inform better programming.
This monograph examines the relationship between organized crime, internal violence, and institutional failure in Guatemala. It aims to increase awareness of this growing threat to regional security and to provide a granular, textured case study of a phenomenon that, while most striking in Guatemala, is present throughout Latin America as a whole. Organizationally, the monograph comprises three substantive sections. The first, offers an overview of the emerging security environment in Latin America, examining
organized crime as a form of irregular warfare. The second, zooms in on Guatemala, exploring the origins, nature, and effects of the current crisis in that country. The third, considers the implications for Guatemalan and U.S. policy.
The meaningful participation of beneficiaries in aid programmes directed to human rights reform is crucial to their success. Their views on ways to improve them deserve serious attention. In interviews with beneficiaries in four countries we were told that aid for reform has had an impact. In the justice sector (the focus of our study) foreign
aid has facilitated constitutional development and legislative reforms and helped expand civil society and transform the justice system. Aid programmes have helped introduce human rights concepts into public consciousness and public institutions in societies where such notions were once seen as subversive.
We were also told that human rights assistance can be wasteful and even do harm. Badly conceived and implemented programmes have sheltered repressive regimes from scrutiny, wasted vital resources and distorted domestic institutions. Donors sometimes promote inappropriate models and put their foreign policy interests before human rights. They can be unreliable partners, subject to quick fixes and too much attention on “exit strategies”. Success depends on many factors, not least paying more attention to local perspectives. This report sets out some of the main issues. It offers signposts that we hope will be useful to both donors and beneficiaries looking for ways
to strengthen the impact of human rights assistance.
The principle of local ownership of SSR will have little import if it is treated simply as a romantic and woolly concept. In practical terms it means that the reform of security
policies, institutions and activities in a given country must be designed, managed and implemented by local actors rather than external actors.
The principle is misconstrued if it is understood to mean that there must be a high level of domestic support for donor activities. What is required is not local support for donor programmes and projects but rather donor support for programmes and projects initiated by local actors. The question for donor governments is not “how can we undertake SSR in partner countries?” but “how can we support local actors who want to undertake SSR in partner countries?”.
The principle does not preclude donors seeking to stimulate and encourage local interest in SSR. Nor does it preclude international actors putting pressure on governments whose security forces violate human rights. Nevertheless, the actual reform of the security sector must be shaped and driven by local actors.
The major peacekeeping and stability operations of the last ten years have mostly taken place in countries that have pervasive customary justice systems, which pose significant challenges and opportunities for efforts to reestablish the rule of law. These systems are the primary, if not sole, means of dispute resolution for the majority of the population, but post-conflict practitioners and policymakers often focus primarily on constructing formal justice institutions in the Western image, as opposed to engaging existing traditional mechanisms. This book offers insight into how the rule of law community might make the leap beyond rhetorical recognition of customary justice toward a practical approach that incorporates the realities of its role in justice strategies."Customary Justice and the Rule of Law in War-Torn Societies" presents seven in-depth case studies that take a broad interdisciplinary approach to the study of the justice system. Moving beyond the narrow lens of legal analysis, the cases Mozambique, Guatemala, East Timor, Afghanistan, Liberia, Iraq, Sudan examine the larger historical, political, and social factors that shape the character and role of customary justice systems and their place in the overall justice sector. Written by resident experts, the case studies provide advice to rule of law practitioners on how to engage with customary law and suggest concrete ways policymakers can bridge the divide between formal and customary systems in both the short and long terms. Instead of focusing exclusively on ideal legal forms of regulation and integration, this study suggests a holistic and flexible palette of reform options that offers realistic improvements in light of social realities and capacity limitations. The volume highlights how customary justice systems contribute to, or detract from, stability in the immediate post-conflict period and offers an analytical framework for assessing customary justice systems that can be applied in any country.
Reforms of local police forces in conflict or post-conflict areas need to be dealt with in order to create a certain level of security for the local people. This volume presents the discussions of professionals in the field of peacekeeping, civilian police activities and police reform, both academics and practitionaers, on the issue of internationally assisted police reform in transitions from war to peace. Contributions include theoretical insights and informed case studies from El Salvador and Guatamala, the Balkans, West Bank and Gaza, and Mozambique and South Africa.