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Risk analysis through conflict analysis - applying the Do No Harm tool
Security Sector Reform(SSR) is a highly political endeavour and one of the key lessons and approaches of SSR is to maintain and foster the holistic and political components while implementing the technical aspects. One of the key elements for success is national ownership and commitments (holistic and political). There is an obvious dilemma for external actors dealing with the security sector, as national security and the state's monopoly on violence is at stake. For sub-sectors like intelligence (civ. /mil.) and the military the sensitivities are even more obvious.
An approach used by development and humanitarian agencies, and which is obligatory according to OECD-DAC for the use of aid funds (ODA) including SSR, is the conflict sensitive approach. "Do No Harm" (DNH) is one of the practical tools for making a project conflict sensitive.
By integrating the DNH tool into SSR Assessment, Programming and M&E the likelihood of the project/programme having a negative impact on conflict relations will dramatically decrease. On the contrary, staff will even be able to find ways of having a positive influence on conflict dynamics. In such a sensitive area as SSR DNH, being able to identify what connects and what disconnect actors enables the programme to navigate the minefield, adjust programming, and increase likelihood for success.
For example, there might be a struggle between the Police Service and the Attorney General's Office regarding mandates for criminal investigation – how will the programme play into this tension and can negative spin offs be avoided and positive dynamics replace it. Another example could be the risk of an overall strategic national reform process having a negative effect on the delicate power balance between the political parties in Government. An option might be to start with sub-sector reform in less sensitive areas such as customs and migrations before addressing overall issues of governance and military/police. Later, when conditions have changed and trust has been built, the strategic SSR process can be initiated on a broader front.
The undersigned has used this tool on Afghanistan, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Colombia and other areas, both for SSR purposes, humanitarian assistance and development. Sometimes in a two-hour session with programme staff under strict time limits, and sometimes in a much more elaborate way through workshops, a written report and formal integration into programme documents and M&E systems - the tool is thus highly flexible. DNH is also integrated into the ISSAT OGN's on SSR Assessment and you can find more resources and the handbook by clicking the links below. CDA Collaborative Development Projects have made this tool and through the first link you can follow the latest innovations and approaches.
Do No Harm project site: http://www.cdacollaborative.org/programs/do-no-harm/
Lessons-learned Manual: Options for Aid in Conflict: Lessons from Field Experience: http://www.cdacollaborative.org/publications/do-no-harm/dnh-books-and-major-reports/options-for-aid-in-conflict-lessons-from-field-experience-(english)/
Building an SSR Tool Kit - Scoping the Requirement
Most SSR experts would agree that an SSR Tool Kit (or Box - for the tidy minded) with carefully designed SSR tools could add real value and focus to the work of both policy makers and practitioners who often find themselves in mission areas with little SSR experience or knowledge. The key challenge will be to design the right tool for the job - a specific SSR issue. Then, we need to think beyond the specific SSR issue in order to design portable tools which can be used in a variety of different contexts, mindful that every SSR environment presents a unique set of circumstances, opportunities and obstacles. Importantly, the application of an SSR tool should bring more structure and rigorous analysis to a problem, and increase the prospects of finding a solution, or at least pointing towards the optimum way forward.
The good news is that we don't need to reinvent the wheel. There are already a vast array of tools in the international arena - in both the public and private sectors which can be harnessed and used to support SSR engagements around the World. One useful approach might be to take a high priority SSR challenge, such as local ownership, and assess the degree to which it might lend itself to analysis against potential tools (eg. Balanced Scorecard). Having found a "close fit" it should be possible, with a spinkling of innovation, to adapt the "adopted tool" to the particular SSR issue and context that needs attention.
I would propose that when a new adapted SSR tool is first deployed it should be done so as a proto-type on a trial basis. These early "trials" will enable the user (SSR practitioner) of the tool to make further changes and, over time, evolve its design thus building confidence in the utility of the tool within the SSR community.
Here is a first attempt at drawing up a list of challenging SSR problem areas where tools are needed. This is only a start and I hope that other contributors to the forum will add their own ideas.
- A Broad Framework for Strategic SSR Planning
- Local Ownership. This tool might be based on Stakeholder Mapping/Analysis and variations of a Power/Interest Matrix
- SSR Benefits. Might be based on a Baland Scorecard.
- Security Sector Tranformation. Use of change management techniques (Eg. cultural web)
- SSR Planning Methodologies. Based on generic planning templates involving a series of steps
- Generic Templates. Needed for national security policy development, SSR development plans; and SSR annexes to peace agreements; and so on
- National Security and SSR Vision Building
- SSR Gap Analysis - a pre-requisite to building any plan
- Political and/or Conflict Analysis. This might be developed around a variation of SPESTLE
- Building Trust and Confidence. Consider some of Dr Covey's methods and tools
- Behavioral Analysis tools
- Establishing Critical Success faczors (CSFs)
- Performance Indicators and Benchmarks
The Tool Box Goal!
Maybe we can design and assemble a set of complementary tools which are portable and easily to access by the international community. Collectively, these tools might lead the SSR community to the SSR Holy Grail - Conflict Prevention!. I wonder if the availability of such an SSR Tool Box might have lessened the recent conflict and turmoil across North Africa and the Middle East. We will for sure need every innovative tool and technique that the international community can muster to assist this part of the World recover and stabilise. and then to transform and rebuild their security sectors.
I use SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) frequently and find it to be a great tool to use in many instances. I've used it to assess the strengths and weakness of organisations as well as policies. Like all other tools, SWOT provides a layout which ensures no single aspect is overlooked or missed out; while strengths and weaknesses focus on the internal aspects and elements of the organisation or policy, opportunities and threats focus on the external factors that influence the organisation positively or negatively. When undertaking organisational reform, it is particularly useful to identify the strengths and opportunities that may be available. I also find it extremely beneficial to use SWOT on policy recommendations to assess how successful the policy would be, or why a particular policy failed.
In the picture here, you can see the simple SWOT matrix with possible questions you can ask when undertaking a simple assessment.
The problem may be compared to that asked of a business consultant asked what tools he uses to "turn a company
around". There are many, and the trick is using the right one at the right time in the right way.
Within SSR programmes, I have found that it is useful from the outset to develop with the local and donor client(s) a formally structured programme. Identify the final outcome first, key to managing expectations [Is the final requirement to develop a policy document declaring intent, or a costed programme of reform?]. Identify interim products that might be needed to formally contribute to the final outcome [Security policy as a step to identifying Defence Policy as a step, in turn, to
identifying military capabilities and the support they need etc]. Work out what activities need to be undertaken to achieve those outcomes [meetings, reports,
workshops etc]; who should be involved; how long is it going to take for each activity and perhaps estimating how much it may cost to do those activities
given how they are going to be conducted [experts fees, rooms/conference facilities, translation etc] . Agree the sequencing of those activities and
perhaps their phasing/staging. Identify how the programme is going to be controlled both in terms of by whom [Senior Board, Programme Manager etc] but
also in terms of how often or under what circumstances control might be applied. Undertake a risk analysis on the programme identifying what, within the emerging
programme might go wrong and what might be done if it does. Undertake a stakeholder analysis and ensure the programme includes a communication strategy
to help keep them “on-board”.
This is just a summary and there is more out there on managing programmes [e.g. see APM Body of Knowledge or Managing Successful Programmes published by the UK OGC or Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 also published by the UK OGC). OK, now applying the full weight of PRINCE2 is DEFINITELY too much – but the principles, of trying to deliver agreed products [policy good enough to identify change projects – change projects that achieve change] in a controlled environment and of delivering them to agreed time quality and cost criteria, are sound.
Good programme management is a key tool of itself, but it also helps to identify what other tools may be needed at different points in the programme and allow agreement to be reached on just how they are going to be used. PESTLE may form a useful framework to identify issues relating to policy, but might it mislead by forcing those involved to only think about those headings? Will other tools be needed later in the programme that might require some early research to ensure they are appropriate, e.g. cost models that can be used to estimate costs of manpower, equipment and training needed to deliver a new or changed capability? I would submit that programme management should be used as a framework within which to identify, and then use other tools that are appropriate to the culture, context and the agreed outcomes of the programme – and those tools will be different from programme to programme.
Conventional approaches to assessments that aim to be all encompassing and detailed at the same time usually take far too much time and are generally far too complex in rapidly evolving post-conflict environments. By the time the comprehensive SSR assessment is ready the assumptions on which it is based often do not apply anymore and some of the opportunities for reforming the security sector may have gone by. Assessment and planning tools need to be adapted to the particular after-conflict challenges. Two such tools that have been successfully tested in post-conflict contexts are introduced here:
- Needs and Actors Mapping
- Capacity and Integrity Framework
For more information about these two tools, concrete examples and insight into their implementation in various contexts, visit the blog post here.