General Description

An assessment is a process of data gathering and information analysis carried out in support of a predetermined purpose.

While many of the principles behind conducting an assessment are the same in security and justice development as in other development activities, the nature of donor support to security and justice initiatives requires a different framework. Security and justice development is inherently a highly sensitive and political process. The extent of political will to undertake (or to avoid) security and justice development must be understood. Assessments must not just focus on technical issues and institutions, but include political dynamics, individual influences, informal networks and customs. In addition, a realistic understanding is required of the extent of the impact a donor can have (both positive and negative). It is important to unpack and acknowledge the relationships within the partner country, as well as donor capabilities to support effective development given the constellation of partner country relationships.

In addition to a good mix of sectoral technical experts, security and justice assessment teams need an understanding of security and justice development as being a holistic and political process that requires the combination of effectiveness with accountability. There is also a requirement for project management skills, cultural and local political awareness, knowledge of good practice in assessment processes and change management experts.

These challenges are exacerbated in the sorts of fragile or conflict-affected state environments in which security and justice support is often undertaken. Fragile or conflict-affected societies are often confronted by legacies of massive abuse generating a lack of trust and a crisis of legitimacy of the security institutions. Typical other post-conflict processes such as DDR, elections, mine action, and return of refugees are highly resource intensive and politically demanding. The tension between the numbers of top priorities (everything is urgent) and limited resources often calls for a careful identification of suitable entry points, rather than just focusing on long-term reform.

Purposes of assessments can include the following, and may be multiple:

  • Inform policy towards a particular country, sector or grouping;
  • Support the design of programmes to assist the development of security and justice systems;
  • Identify suitable entry points to support longer-term security and justice processes;
  • Identify and mitigate against risks and pitfalls of engagement;
  • Identify individuals, communities, networks, organisations or institutions to champion security and justice processes;
  • Identify possible suitable local, national, regional or donor partners for future engagement;
  • Inform funding priorities for support to SSR;
  • Create a baseline from which to evaluate programme outcomes and impact.

Our Assessment Mandates