Guatemala

Guatemala

Case Studies

Promoting Local Ownership Through a Thematic Assessment in Guatemala's Justice Sector

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.

case study

Guatemala: Toward a Democratic Security Policy

The Guatemalan Peace Accords signed in 1996 brought an end to 36 years of internal armed conflict between a repressive and authoritarian state and leftist guerrillas with more than 250,000 victims, 63 massacres and other crimes against humanity. As part of the peace process, Government and insurgency representatives reached an official Agreement on the Strengthening of Civilian Power and on the Role of the Military on a Democratic Society that detailed the need to transform the security sector institutions adapting it to the new roles required in a democratic era. But implementation of the agreement faltered: a resistant military, a distracted government, a polarized atmosphere and an un-informed public combined to allow the continuation of the conceptual and operational frameworks of counterinsurgency that represented a latent threat to peace and democratization.

The Peace Accords dealt not only with the end of the armed confrontation and its effects in society, but addressed a wide range of social and economic issues –from women’s rights to socio-economic policy- effectively becoming an agenda for social reform. The Part Agreement on the Strengthening of Civil Society and the Role of the Armed Forces in a Democratic Society (AFPC, for its Spanish acronym) went beyond the usual disarmament, demobilization and reintegration agenda to deal with issues of military reform and de-militarization of society. It was not so much about the end of armed struggle as about the advent of democracy in Guatemalan society. It dealt not so much with the necessary redefinition of military functions as a result of the end of armed conflict and the disappearance of the subversive military threat to the state, as with the need to ensure the development of a military institution that responds to the security needs of a democratic political community. In this regard, it built upon the Central American Democratic Security Framework Treaty that had been signed by the Presidents of the Central American countries in 1995 with the explicit intention to eradicate the authoritarian regional security structures and concepts inherited from the Cold War.[1]

The POLSEDE (Toward a Security Policy for Democracy) initiative was launched in 1999 by two local civil society organizations, the local chapter of an academic network of research centres called the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), and the Guatemalan Institute for Development and Peace (IGEDEP), with the support of the War-Torn Societies Project (WSP International) –currently known as Interpeace- and UNDP. The research-and-dialogue process brought all the concerned parties in state and society around a collective effort to further the goal of military conversion and promoting democratization in the spirit of the peace accords. The programme gathered relevant government agencies including the military, civil society organizations and academic institutions in a process that lasted over 3 years, holding more than 200 meetings in 6 technical working groups and a high-level Plenary, and organizing ad-hoc events such as public conferences and workshops.

The War-Torn Societies Project had developed a method of participatory action research to enable a diverse and polarized community of actors in state and society to engage in an inclusive evidence-based analysis and decision-making process. The research and dialogue process provided a neutral space making it safe for people to participate across socio-political divides, working upon the principle of consensus. The combined dialogue and research methods ensured the development of policy recommendations that were both technically sound and politically legitimate. The intention was to facilitate the adoption of collaborative attitudes by undertaking the dialogue as an academic exercise instead of relying on adversarial ‘negotiation’ formats. The ‘evidence based’ nature of the process would prevent actors from engaging on discussions based upon pre-defined, often ideologically anchored notions of what the problems and the solutions were, allowing time for the establishment of sound, evidence-based parameters for the discussion. The consensus rule would reduce concerns that the exercise could be politically manipulated in favour of one side or other and eased resistance to participation from hardliners by guaranteeing they would not be ‘ambushed’ by numbers.

A critical issue was the identification of the motivational factors that would enable such a varied group of actors, often polarized about the issues, to converge around a common effort. Government authorities expressed their support for the initiative, clearly identifying the value of consensus-based policies in such a polarized subject, and specifically, the potential contribution to the implementation of lagging AFPC commitments. Civil society organizations expressed their interest in a space that would allow them to interact with civilian and military actors in government, on a topic hitherto monopolized by security institutions and key for democratization. Although some recalcitrant military elements expressed reservations about the opening of military conversion and other SSR/D issues to civil society organizations, as an institution the Military –interested in legitimizing itself in a new political context- expressed its willingness to join a research-based effort that stood apart from the adversarial dynamics that had characterized civil-military relations. Clarity about their own and others’ motivations and transparency about the process rules and procedures enabled participants to progressively develop the trust and the shared knowledge necessary for the development of far-reaching consensus-based recommendations.

The project issued twelve documents with a range of specific recommendations that were integrated into a conceptual framework document on civil military relations, and four concrete legal and institutional reform proposals: of the national security system, of the intelligence services, and of the military functions. Beyond these concrete results, the project instilled in participant’s attitudes and skills that have enabled them to pursue cooperative engagement between state and society and strengthened civil society capacities for engagement still in evidence, long after the project ended.

A number of dialogues processes grew out of the project. The Project in Support of a Citizen Security Policy (POLSEC), was set up under the initiative of the participants in POLSEDE in response to an explicit request by the Government to transfer the analytical framework and dialogue mechanisms that were used in the project to the wider debate about public security such as initiatives in civil intelligence, criminal investigation and community-level security; The Guatemala Network for Democratic Security brought together military officers and civilians in a “security community” anchored in the new paradigm of democratic security that continued dialogue across the state-society divide. An Advisory Council on Security, created in the AFPC as a space for civil society participation in policy formulation, was finally established after Government and civil society reached agreement on the terms under which it would function. Over a dozen universities, think tanks and NGOs participated in a follow up projected called FOSS (Strengthening of Civil Society Organizations Specialized in Security) that carried out research on different aspects of the new security agenda, from civil society engagement in community security strategies to the development of democratic controls over the state’s security apparatus, that continues to function to this day. The National Congress signed an agreement with FOSS that turned its participant organizations into technical advisors of congressional committees working on security sector legislation. The result has been an empowered civil society, which has been playing important roles in the security sector policy making through technical advice, advocacy and lobbying.

This project did contribute toward progress and acted as a confidence building mechanism. It strengthened understanding on the technical issues at stake and improved research and policy capacities across the state-society divide; and a network of civilian and military actors with the skills and self-confidence necessary to continue in constructive interaction. Guatemala still has many security challenges linked to emerging security threats and forms of violence, and the process of democratizing the security legal and institutional frameworks continues. But it now has an empowered civil society that is living up to the challenge and engaging the state in constructive interaction around these issues.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Footnotes

[1] Bernardo Arévalo de León. “Democratic Security in Guatemala: Reflections on Building a Concept of Security in and for Democracy”. In Human Security, Conflict Prevention and Peace in Latin America and the Caribbean, edited by Moufida Goucha and Francisco Rojas Aravena; UNESCO-FLACSO Chile; Santiago de Chile 2003.

case study

CICIG: A Mechanism for Justice and Security Sector Reform - Guatemala

Context 

Guatemala experienced over three decades of intermittent armed conflict starting in the 1960s. Among the main perpetrators of violence were illegal security forces and clandestine security structures (Cuerpos Ilegales y Aparatos Clandestinos de Seguridad CIACS). When peace was made in 1996, the country was marked by violence, poverty and institutional weakness, fostering corruption and impunity. Commitments to strengthening justice and human rights institutions, fighting impunity for human rights violations and dismantling paramilitary groups were included in the 1996 Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace.

Due to the continued influence and threat of remaining CIACS, in 2002 a civil society proposal called for an international commission to investigate threats against the justice institutions responsible for investigating their crimes. After four years of intense political dialogue and continuous international pressure the Agreement to Establish the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) was signed by the Guatemalan government and the United Nations in 2006. CICIG was established in 2007 with a two-year mandate as an independent, international body to support state institutions and strengthen criminal justice and accountability for crimes committed by members of CIACS. It is set to end in September 2017, but the Guatemalan president has already suggested seeking approval from the national congress to renew the mandate for another 2 years as had been the practice established by his predecessors.

 

Entry points

The agreement establishing CICIG stated two main objectives: to support, strengthen and assist state institutions responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crimes allegedly committed by CIACS or associated with them, and on the other hand to establish mechanisms and procedures for the protection of the right to life and to personal integrity, pursuant to international commitments with respect to the protection of fundamental rights.

CICIG was thus tasked with investigating and identifying existing CIACS structures, forms of operation and sources of financing, as well as assisting the state to dismantle CIACS and investigate and prosecute members for their crimes. In addition CICIG was tasked with making public policy and institutional reform recommendations to prevent the re-emergence of such groups to the Guatemalan government.

CICIG supported the Guatemalan government in various roles, ranging from providing technical support for specialized training courses to acting as a private prosecutor. Achievements include the creation of a witness protection programme, tightened gun controls, rules for court-ordered wiretaps and the freezing of assets, the creation of high-risk courts for especially dangerous defendants, investigations resulting in charges against top public officials for extrajudicial prosecutions, fraud, illicit association and homicide. Most notably, it has exposed the massive corruption scheme La Línea in 2015, leading to the resignation and arrest of president Otto Pérez Molina. According to a 2016 report, CICIG is supported by 66% of the Guatemalan society and is thus the most trusted institution in the country.

 

Lessons Identified

Political independence is crucial, so is political will:

The political and economic independence of CICIG has allowed for changes and reforms that national institutions struggled to implement. The political will by the national leadership was necessary for a politically independent and powerful CICIG; results would have been harder to achieve if CICIG did not engage at the higher level to channel political will, a task that would be a major role of the CICIG Commissioner. The political pressure by the international community could be considered equally as important in securing political buy in.

Trust-building can enhance marge de manoeuvre and effectiveness

An official agreement with the national government, like the one CICIG had with Guatemala, is vital in building local trust with key judicial institutions. Although the CICIG relied on the support of Guatemalan civil society groups working for human rights and justice to achieve effective outcomes, their partnership with the Public Prosecutor was fundamental. Skills and competences were transferred through trust-based forms of collaboration involving joint working groups, investigations and trial preparations. The support CICIG enjoyed from governmental and non-governmental agents enabled CICIG to work on a wide range of issues and effectively tackle challenges. This support laid the foundations for working relationships to become based on trust as senior state officials were being successfully prosecuted, and judicial actors and human rights defenders were becoming less threatened. 

CICIG’s working strategy and political activism opened doors for others to succeed

CICIG’s achievements were highly influenced by the personal management of each commissioner, who would become extremely visible public figures. Political activism was critical to removing obstacles within a mandate lasting only 2 years, with no automatic guarantees of extension. CICIG’s working strategy had to carefully plan and prioritise investigations under these restrictions as well as ensure an enabling environment for the local judicial system. CICIG thus assumed high profile cases that would produce the most strategic impact in combating impunity and orientated their local capacity building strategy to meet this objective. These high profile cases primarily focused on influential State actors with ties to criminal organisations rather than focusing on crimes of the past, considered a fundamental part of the Peace Accords and the basis for the genesis of the CICIG. However, with the spotlight on the CICIG and its achievements many key human rights cases dealing with crimes of the past were significantly advanced. This included the sentencing of two former members of the military to 360 years in jail for the murder, rape and sexual enslavement of indigenous women (Sepur Zarco Case 2016) and arrest of several former military officers on charges of forced disappearance and crimes against humanity based on evidence uncovered at the military center in Cobán.

 

Impact

With the exposure of the corruption scheme La Línea and the resignation and arrest of a president, CICIG is generally considered a success story. Between 2008 and 2014, the level of impunity in the country decreased (Public Prosecutor’s Office, Work Reports 2008-2013; Annual Reports 2014-2015), and is likely to continue decreasing as a result of a more effective criminal justice system. In addition, the issue of impunity is no longer simply a priority issue for human rights NGOs, but is now of greater visible interest to the general public as citizens are becoming more proactive and vocal in demanding to tackle impunity and corruption and hold government officials responsible.

CICIG resolved numerous legal cases in cooperation with the public prosecutors. The most frequently cited achievements include the above-mentioned La Línea, as well as helping to reveal the mechanism behind targeted killings linked back to a former minister of the interior (Ibid.). Today, CICIG serves as a good practice example for tackling corruption and organised crime facilitated by weak state institutions.

Resources

Crutch to Catalyst? The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, International Crisis Group, 2016. 

Acuerdo Global Sobre Derechos Humanos

Agreement to Establish CICIG

Against the Odds, CICIG in Guatemala, Open Society Institute, 2016. 

Acuerdo de paz firme y duradera

 

case study

Videos

Holistic Approach to Supporting National Ownership in JSSR

Bjorn Holmberg discusses the critical role of civil society play in the JSSR process, particularly in terms of strengthening accountability and governance. Bjorn also emphasis the importance of supporting civil society during the national ownership process of JSSR. 

Bjorn Holmberg

Dr. Björn Holmberg has more than 20 years of field and HQ experience on issues related to peace and human security from a theoretical and a “hands-on” perspective. He is presently Secretary General of Swedepeace Foundation (2009-), a non-profit and impartial foundation promoting peaceful conflict resolution and human security. He holds a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University and was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1989.  Dr. Holmberg has been published on different topics such as causes of war, conflict analysis, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, SSR, DDR, etc. Currently, Dr. Björn Holmberg is the leader of the Swiss JSSR Support Team providing support to the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and Partners Inter-American Bank in their Programme Integrated Security Sector Reform and Violence Prevention in Honduras.

video

Application of Tools Supporting the Theory of Change

Björn Holmberg discusses the application different tools that support a Theory of Change and how they can help make a common vision more clearer as well as  identify potential risks that may occur. These supporting tools include: Context analysis, actor analysis, scenario analysis, conflict analysis and conflict sensitive analysis. 

Björn Holmberg

Dr. Björn Holmberg has more than 20 years of field and HQ experience on issues related to peace and human security from a theoretical and a “hands-on” perspective. He is presently Secretary General of Swedepeace Foundation (2009-), a non-profit and impartial foundation promoting peaceful conflict resolution and human security. He holds a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University and was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1989.  Dr. Holmberg has been published on different topics such as causes of war, conflict analysis, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, SSR, DDR, etc. Currently, Dr. Björn Holmberg is the leader of the Swiss JSSR Support Team providing support to the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and Partners Inter-American Bank in their Programme Integrated Security Sector Reform and Violence Prevention in Honduras.

video

Identifying dimensions of fragility in JSSR

Björn Holmberg focuses on the importance of identifying the different dimensions of institutional fragility when supporting JSSR. Björn provides examples of the detrimental consequences a weak civil service and the impact of the illegal drug trade can have on JSSR. 

Björn Holmberg

Dr. Björn Holmberg has more than 20 years of field and HQ experience on issues related to peace and human security from a theoretical and a “hands-on” perspective. He is presently Secretary General of Swedepeace Foundation (2009-), a non-profit and impartial foundation promoting peaceful conflict resolution and human security. He holds a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University and was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1989.  Dr. Holmberg has been published on different topics such as causes of war, conflict analysis, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, SSR, DDR, etc. Currently, Dr. Björn Holmberg is the leader of the Swiss JSSR Support Team providing support to the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and Partners Inter-American Bank in their Programme Integrated Security Sector Reform and Violence Prevention in Honduras.

video

Aid effectiveness in JSSR

Björn Holmberg discusses the challenges facing aid effectiveness when supporting JSSR, highlighting the importance of donors supporting national ownership and national consensus in a cohesive manner. 

Björn Holmberg

Dr. Björn Holmberg has more than 20 years of field and HQ experience on issues related to peace and human security from a theoretical and a “hands-on” perspective. He is presently Secretary General of Swedepeace Foundation (2009-), a non-profit and impartial foundation promoting peaceful conflict resolution and human security. He holds a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University and was commissioned as an Officer in the Army Reserve at the Swedish Infantry’s Officer Academy in 1989.  Dr. Holmberg has been published on different topics such as causes of war, conflict analysis, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, SSR, DDR, etc. Currently, Dr. Björn Holmberg is the leader of the Swiss JSSR Support Team providing support to the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and Partners Inter-American Bank, in their Programme Integrated Security Sector Reform and Violence Prevention in Honduras.

video

TEDx Talk: WOLA's Adriana Beltrán on Guatemala's Fight against Corruption and Impunity

This TEDx Talk video by Adriana Beltrán from the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) addresses Central America and Guatemala's problems of insecurity, violence, and the growing influence of organised crime. These issues have led many to flee their homes and communities, and has transnational effects. As head of the Citizen Security Program for WOLA, Beltrán promotes policies that identify and address the root causes of violence and improve the effectiveness and accountability of police and judicial systems.

For access to the TEDx Talk - WOLA's Adriana Beltrán on Guatemala's Fight against Corruption and Impunity, kindly follow the link.

video

Podcasts

Citizen Security in Central America: Root Causes and New Approaches

In December, the U.S. Congress approved a big increase in aid to Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries – El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The US$750 million seeks to address the so-called “root causes” of violence that is now so severe that over 111,000 children from these three countries were apprehended in the United States or Mexico, while traveling unaccompanied, just between June 2014 and December 2015.

In this podcast by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the hosts look at the causes of Central America’s insecurity crisis and how the United States has chosen to respond. They look at some of the concerns in Congress and elsewhere about political will, corruption, and human rights, and discuss strategies that can help Central Americans feel safer where they live—without repeating the ineffective and military-heavy approaches of the past.

They are joined by:

  • Geoff Thale, WOLA’s Program Director;
  • Adriana Beltrán, WOLA’s Senior Associate for Citizen Security;
  • José Luis Sanz of El Salvador’s El Faro ; and
  • Héctor Silva Avalos of American University.

For full access to the podcast about Citizen Security in Central America: Root Causes and New Approaches, kindly follow the link.

Podcast

Policy and Research Papers

Crime, Violence, and the Crisis in Guatemala: A Case Study in the Erosion of the State

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.

Paper

Local perspectives: foreign aid to the justice sector

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.

Paper

No Ownership, No Commitment: A Guide to Local Ownership of Security Sector Reform

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.

To read the full publication, No Ownership, No Commitment: A Guide to Local Ownership of Security Sector Reform, please follow the link provided. 

Paper

The Political Economy of State-Building in Situations of Fragility and Conflict: From Analysis to Strategy

Fragile states have been at the heart of Western development and security strategy for over a decade. Bringing together the findings of five case studies of states that show clear signs of illegitimacy or a weak capacity to govern, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Kosovo and Pakistan, this paper examines the roots and dynamics of state fragility by placing the spotlight on the way political power works. The paper highlights the aspects of political economy that give rise to weak or fragile state institutions, freeze or reverse attempted reforms, create public insecurity and paralyse economic development.

The paper concludes with suggestions that may help guide a pragmatic and realistic approach. Above all, donors must be constantly sensitive to the structures of power, interests and incentives that can capture and subvert new formal governance arrangements.

To view this publication, please follow this link or download the file below.

Paper

La justice, arme des populations autochtones au Guatemala?

Les « diamants du sang » et les mines de coltan qui financent les groupes armés en République Démocratique du Congo sont des exemples tristement célèbres de l’hégémonie et de l’impunité des multinationales extractives, s’enrichissant au prix de graves violations des droits de l’homme. Les populations locales ou autochtones restent trop souvent impuissantes face au pouvoir politique et financier de ces acteurs transnationaux qui profitent de systèmes juridiques faibles ou irresponsables. Toutefois, le nombre croissant de poursuites judiciaires menées par des communautés Mayas au Guatemala contre des entreprises canadiennes tend à démontrer l’existence des voies légales pour empêcher les violations de leurs droits fondamentaux et faire entendre leurs revendications. 

Publiée par le Centre International pour la Paux et les Droits de l'Homme (CIPAH), cette analyse est disponible ici.

Paper

Crutch to Catalyst? The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala

Guatemala is enjoying a rare moment of opportunity. A new president, Jimmy Morales, bolstered by a landslide victory, has taken office promising to end corruption. The old political elite is in disarray. Emboldened citizens are pressing for reforms to make justice more effective and government more transparent. Behind these changes is a unique multilateral experiment, the UN-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), whose investigators work with national prosecutors to dismantle criminal networks within the state. CICIG is not a permanent fix, however. Guatemala will lose its opportunity unless national leaders assume the fight against impunity as their own, approve stalled justice and security sector reforms and muster the financial resources to strengthen domestic institutions.

Please kindly follow the link to access the document: Crutch to Catalyst? The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala

Paper

What Works in Reducing Community Violence: Spotlight on Central America and Mexico

The Wilson Center’s Latin American Program is pleased to launch an innovative report from Harvard’s Kennedy School that identifies promising strategies for reducing community violence and suggests how evidenced-informed policy options might be adapted to high violence areas in Mexico and Central America. 

For full access to the report on What Works in Reducing Community Violence: Spotlight on Central America and Mexico, kindly follow the link. 

Paper

Improving Security and Justice Programming in Fragile Situations

This OECD Development Policy Paper by Erwin van Veen explores how international support for security and justice development programming needs to be designed in order to strengthen programmatic results and improve the effectiveness of peacebuilding and statebuilding strategies. Fragile environments can be tough and complex places in which to operate, and there is limited scope for external actors to drive reforms that fundamentally alter domestic power dynamics. Yet there is sufficient evidence to suggest that externally supported programmes can contribute to incremental change and lay the groundwork for a sustainable change process.

Based on a case study analysis of nine externally supported security and justice development programmes in Burundi, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, and Timor-Leste, the article stresses the need to consider four critical enablers that can improve the quality of international support. These enablers range from daily political engagement to an increased duration of the security and programmes to 6-10 years, along with the inclusion of longer-term results in the programme and ensuring that the implementation programme is adjustable.

To access the OECD paper by Erwin van Veen on Improving Security and Justice Programming in Fragile Situations, kindly follow the link.

Paper

Amérique Centrale : L'insécurité endémique des pays du triangle Nord

Cet article se penche sur la région d'Amérique Latine appelée « Triangle nord » (Guatemala, Honduras et Salvador), qui est devenue l’une des plus dangereuses au monde. Il souligne le rôle de l’échec des politiques de lutte contre les gangs, mais également de la pauvreté, de la corruption et de l’impunité dans l'aggravation de la violence. 

Pour accéder à l'étude Amérique Centrale : L'insécurité endémique des pays du triangle Nord, veuillez cliquer sur le lien.

Paper

Mafia of the Poor: Gang Violence and Extortion in Central America

Central American gangs are responsible for brutal acts of violence, abuse of women and forced displacement of thousands. Based on interviews with officials and experts in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, this report discusses new forms of regional collaboration in law enforcement among the countries of the Northern Triangle.

For full access to the paper, Mafia of the Poor: Gang Violence and Extortion in Central America, kindly follow the link. 

Paper

EU support for Justice and Security Sector Reform in Honduras and Guatemala

This desk study reviews the literature on EU programmes that supported security and justice reform in Guatemala and Honduras, focusing on two: the programme in support of the security sector (PASS) in Honduras and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The report reviews these programmes and reflects on the capabilities of the EU.

For full access to the paper, EU support for Justice and Security Sector  Reform in Honduras and Guatemala, kindly follow the link.

Paper

Regards croisés en situation post-conflit : les cas du Guatemala et de la Colombie

Ce Bulletin FrancoPaix de l'UQAM compare les cas du Guatemala et de la Colombie, oùle processus de réconciliation est complexe et le soutien de la communauté internationale envers les principales communautés stigmatisées par ces conflits armés internes, les populations autochtones, paysannes et afro-colombiennes, demeure nécessaire pour les années à venir.

Pour accéder à l'étude Regards croisés en situation post-conflit : les cas du Guatemala et de la Colombie, veuillez suivre le lien. 

Paper

Guatemala Stumbles in Central America’s Anti-corruption Fight

Guatemala’s fight against corruption is in danger after President Morales attempted to expel the head of a uniquely effective UN-backed anti-corruption organisation. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Analyst for Guatemala Arturo Matute says a corrupt elite is waging a battle to maintain its privileged position.

For full access to Guatemala Stumbles in Central America’s Anti-corruption Fight, kindly follow the link.

Paper

Saving Guatemala’s Fight Against Crime and Impunity

What’s new?

Research by International Crisis Group has for the first time quantified the positive impact of the UN’s Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). This report shows how CICIG’s justice reform activities since 2007 helped contribute to a 5 per cent average annual decrease in murder rates in the country. This compares with a 1 per cent average annual rise among regional peers.

Why does it matter?

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has announced that he will end CICIG’s mandate in 2019. But the commission has won widespread public support in Guatemala for its prosecution of previously untouchable elites. It is a rare example of a successful international effort to strengthen a country’s judicial system and policing.

What should be done?

With U.S. support for the CICIG under seeming strain, the commission’s other supporters should propose a new deal between the Guatemalan government and the UN based on a revised strategy of case selection and continuing support for political and judicial reforms. The U.S. should wholeheartedly back such a reformulated CICIG.

To read the report Saving Guatemala’s Fight Against Crime and Impunity, please follow the link.

Paper

Books

Customary Justice and the Rule of Law in War-Torn Societies

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.

Book

Peacebuilding and police reform

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.

Book

Other Documents

Carlos Dada: Guatemalan Victories over Impunity Have Inspired People across Central America

Facing corruption charges, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina recently resigned from office and less than 24 hours later was indicted for corruption, illicit association, and bribery. The euphoria caused by this victory of the justice system has spilled over to other Central American countries like Honduras and El Salvador, where citizens are taking to the streets to demand justice and an end to corruption.

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