Insights and lessons into long-term SSR programming - Part 1

Stephen Jackson, the Chief of Staff of the UN Office in Burundi, provides insight into following topics of interest in SSR programming:

  • perverse incentives in DDR programming
  • the principle of Do No Harm in peacedeals and ceasefires
  • bridging the capacity gap
  • the need to incentivise a national security strategy process
  • the sustainability of SSR and the need for a long-term vision

See Part 2 of this interview.

Here are a few quotes from the interview

the best form of hygiene is sunlight [re budgetary transparency]

It takes a full generation to move an institution up one notch in institutional strength. It's not to take Afghanistan and turn it tomorrow into Switzerland but to take Afghanistan and maybe get it to be Nigeria - that takes a generation...

We over-estimate dependency a great deal - absence of institutional strength and financial strength are two related problems which aren't going to be addressed in the first 25 years...

Maybe the problem isn't handing [an SSR programme] over too late, it's having too short a vision.


Policy and Research Papers

Value for Money? The overall record of technical assistance for institutional and governance reform.

‘Technical assistance’ in the form of international experts and advisors, and loans and grants for ‘institutional reform’ constitute a huge share of official development assistance. Yet a growing body of comparative and cumulative evaluations, further bolstered by academic research, show that its overall effectiveness in terms of better functioning governments, is limited at best. There is a whole range of reasons for these, with the bulk of the blame often laid on the recipient countries. But there are also well-known problems with the quality of the ‘experts’ and ‘advisers’ being deployed, and long-standing and deep-seated problems generated by the predominant bureaucratic cultures of the ‘donor’ agencies. Based on reflection and learning from experience, there is strong convergence among many different sources about what are more productive ways of engaging for the purpose of sustained improvements in public sector capacities and performance. Part of this lies with the recipient actors who can be more assertive in maintaining control of their own agendas and strategies. But under any given scenario, it requires from ‘experts’ and ‘advisers’ a much broader range of competencies, and from the ‘donors’ a change in actual practices, that would bring these more in line with their professed policy principles.


Security Strategies Today : Trends and Perspectives

There have been considerable developments in security-policy thinking since the end of the Cold War, and a complex set of transnational threatsand challenges necessitates new security policies and strategies. Not only the attacks of 11 September 2001, but also the dark side of globalisation such as climate change, the global spread of dangerous technologies and international organised crime have changed the security perspective and policy procedures in recent years. Consequently, new
national-security strategies, white papers and security-policy documents have been drafted in order to take into account the changing security landscape.

On 6 April 2009, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) welcomed a group of leading security experts for a seminar entitled “Security Strategies Today : Trends and Perspectives”. The goal of the seminar was to provide a forum for experts from different European states, major international powers and regional and international organisations to take stock of current security polices in the European region and beyond. The participants had an opportunity to assess the direction of security-policy thinking by analysing a number of key security-policy documents such as national-security strategies, defence concepts and white papers, among others. Assumptions regarding future threats were considered, as were a variety of drafting processes and methodologies.

More than 30 participants attended the seminar, including representatives of the Defence Ministries of Finland, Germany and Sweden, as well as representatives of the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In addition to faculty members from the GCSP, regional and international experts from a range of academic and policy institutions participated, including speakers from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the International Affairs Institute (Rome), the Institute for International Strategic Studies (Beijing), the Royal Institute of International Relations (Brussels) and the Foundation for Strategic Studies (Paris).


Operationalising Conflict Prevention as Strong, Resilient Systems: Approaches, Evidence, Action Points

Conflict prevention is experiencing renewed momentum within and outside the United Nations system. This momentum is built on growing understanding that timely investments towards tensions and stress factors yield significant results in political, economic and social terms. To fully unlock the potential of preventive action to consolidate peace and end violence, there needs to be better communication across sectors and institutions: on how conflict prevention practice has evolved over the last decade, and on the changing nature of conflict itself. What is more, there is a need for a more pronounced effort to distil the concrete evidence about when and how conflict prevention works. The paper locates conflict prevention within the emerging practise of strengthening resilient national systems, and explores operational issues about how to better assist such conflict prevention. The paper also reviews various conflict prevention approaches that have emerged from the fields of armed violence reduction, mediation, or the private sector.


Strengthening Preventive Diplomacy: The Role of Private Actors

 This report explores the role of private actors in preventive diplomacy. The report is structured along five main themes: (1) The comparative advantage of private actors vis-à-vis large institutions; (2) entry points, access, leverage, and resources available to private actors for preventive diplomacy; (3) challenges faced by private actors; (4) concrete experiences of private actors, especially with regard to assistance and design of political processes; and (5) strategic coordination and partnerships between private actors, the United Nations, and regional organizations.

The report finds that:

  • Private actors are strategic partners for preventive diplomacy. They possess many advantages in comparison to formal actors, despite recurring human and financial resource challenges. Private actors also fill a gap within the preventive diplomacy field by providing functions such as good analysis and network capacities, confidentiality of dialogues, access to a wider set of actors, and connections to local actors through long-standing engagements.
  • There is an emerging practice in the fields of armed violence reduction, peace mediation, and human rights protection that, if more widely applied, would represent a tremendous opportunity to strengthen preventive diplomacy. These opportunities relate to current efforts to establish networks of insider mediators (Box 1) and Armed Violence Monitoring Systems (Box 3), and to the designation of country or regional rapporteurs on conflict prevention.
  • Effective preventive diplomacy should be based on an in-depth contextual analysis and rooted within collaborative and inclusive-enough coalitions between state and society actors. Such coalitions are crucial to build confidence, as they can thereby diffuse tensions or prevent the relapse of violence. The inclusion of such coalitions in conflict-sensitive programming strategies helps nurture a culture of prevention and strengthens social capital.

The report concludes by highlighting the underlying challenge for preventive diplomacy of finding the right balance between international demands for stabilization and local demands for political space to drive transformative change.


Rule of Law, Justice Sector Reforms and Development Cooperation

Like other donors, SDC has dealt with rule of law issues for years. In several countries, SDC supports judicial reform and the improvement of the legal framework for economic and social development. This concept paper aims to provide information and guidance to SDC’s staff and partners at headquarters and in partner countries. The concept paper begins by identifying the essential elements of the rule of law. Although there is no internationally accepted definition of the rule of law, key elements generally include: non-discrimination and equality before the law, the hierarchy of norms, and the substantive coherence of the legal framework, the government is bound by law, the separation of powers, the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, and respect for human rights.
The rule of law is interlinked with other concepts used in international cooperation: the rule of law is a means to realize human rights and gender equality, a key element for good governance, decentralization, poverty reduction, economic development, and peace building. Depending on these different perspectives, the concept is multicoloured, and it results in different and sometimes even conflicting approaches to and priorities for legal and judicial reforms. SDC will use the rule of law concept as a means to realize human rights, and implement its principles with flexibility, taking into account the relevant context, and potential entry points for cooperation.
Part two of this concept paper looks at the growing trend to include the rule of law dimension in legal and judicial reform projects. The performance of judicial institutions depends not just on operational efficiency, but also on their accessibility to vulnerable groups and effectiveness in realizing human rights. Justice sector reforms are increasingly seen from a systemic perspective, as a series of interconnected institutions and procedures to be analysed and improved. Moreover, legal and judicial systems are not restricted to formal, “modern” laws and institutions: they include informal and traditional law and procedures.
Part three provides illustrative examples of SDC’s engagement and experience involving the rule of law dimension both in legal and judicial reform and in other areas of development cooperation. The examples show that the legal dimension of development can be addressed in a variety of contexts and manners with different partners and entry points.


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