Early Post-conflict SSR Assessment and Planning Tools: Needs and actors mapping and the Capacity and Integrity Framework

by Alexander Mayer-Rieckh · May 4th, 2011.

SSR has to be based on local security and justice needs if it is to succeed. This statement appears to be commonplace and almost banal. However, international SSR assistance efforts all too often rush into a country with pre-conceived notions of the reality on the ground and without making any serious efforts to assess the actual local needs.

This problem is often even more pronounced in post-conflict contexts. On the one hand, international actors frequently face significant pressures to seize early post-conflict windows of opportunity that may close again soon and to quickly deliver peace dividends in order to justify their operations and programmes. Hence they are tempted just to do something that appears to be pertinent without verifying its actual local relevance. On the other hand, the unknown and the pace of change are usually far more significant after a conflict than in common developmental settings. 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. This is a typical case of the better being the enemy of the good. 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 and the capacity and integrity framework.

In post-conflict SSR, a needs and actors mapping is a good initial step to identify local actors and needs. This mapping is broad and complete but not deep and not detailed. Think of a map: it has no blanks. A good map represents a complete inventory and provides a bird’s-eye overview but does not give in-depth information on any of the individual items on the map. It can be completed relatively quickly with limited resources and helps to ensure that critical factors are not missed out. SSR mapping helps to quickly overcome the high level of uncertainty that is so prevalent in post-conflict contexts and that gets in the way of SSR efforts. The mapping exercise provides simple baseline data that helps to initiate a debate on reform priorities and to decide where to focus an in-depth analysis of needs and their institutional or sectoral causes. The mapping process should cover two basic categories of data: the people’s security and justice needs, as well as all security and justice actors and their principal service delivery deficits. The scope for verification of information is limited during the mapping. Nevertheless, cross-referencing data received from different sources will provide a level of verification that is sufficient to decide where to focus a more in-depth analysis and planning process. 

One tool for such a focused in-depth analysis and planning process is the capacity and integrity framework (CIF). Five years into its mandate, the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) was asked in early 2000 to develop an exit strategy with a view of withdrawing at the end of 2002. UNMIBH was mandated to support police reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Clear objectives had to be defined and a Mandate Implementation Plan (MIP) had to be elaborated for the remaining two years. The main challenge was to set and prioritise realistic and concrete objectives in a police reform process that would have to continue after the mission’s withdrawal.  UNMIBH developed the CIF as a tool to identify objectives and activities that reflect the desirable institutional changes to be achieved during the remaining two years:

FIGURE 1: the capacity and integrity framework (CIF)

The CIF brought two new perspectives into the mission’s activities. First, the CIF helped the mission to move beyond activities targeting police personnel (train, mentoring) to activities addressing the police institution as a whole. With the CIF, not only human resources challenges can be identified but also structural deficits such as infrastructure needs, budgetary problems, and organisational and procedural shortcomings.  Second, the CIF helped the mission not only to adopt the usual capacity building perspective but also to include integrity challenges that are often the main reasons for an institution’s malfunctioning.  As a result, UNMIBH identified objectives and activities to improve the capacity of both the personnel and the structure, as well as the integrity of both the personnel and structure of the police institution. No capacity building without integrity building is the key message of the CIF, which echoes the core goals of SSR: building security institutions that not only provide effective security but also comply with the standards of good governance.

In addition, the CIF is not only a planning tool but also proved to be useful for assessing a security institution in post-conflict contexts. The CIF is flexible enough to be adapted to the requirements of concrete assessment assignments. Its simplicity and minimalism make it a very accessible tool. The CIF helps the various stakeholders of an assessment to agree on a common framework and to create a common understanding of the institutional challenges ahead. The CIF is particularly useful when the terms of reference of the assessment are vague, the precise methodology to be used is insufficiently defined or its development is up to the assessment team, the time to conduct the assessment is very limited, or the team members do not know each other and have different backgrounds. 

The following two examples can illustrate the adaptability of the CIF model to the concrete requirements of a specific assessment and planning situation. In Timor Leste, a Joint Assessment Mission composed of around 15 national and international experts with different backgrounds and nationalities was established in 2003 to assess within two weeks the East Timor Police Service (ETPS) and its needs in light of the coming UN handover. The team was brought together on site with very short notice and a rather open mandate. Unsurprisingly, the process started with long discussions on the “what” and the “how” of the assessment. Using the CIF was the easy way out to forge consensus. Because the sustainability of the ETPS was a core concern among the main stakeholders, the CIF was adapted and turned into a “CISF”:  a capacity, integrity and sustainability framework.  Therefore, in addition to assessing the capacity and the integrity of both ETPS personnel and structure, the assessment team looked into the conditions for building a stable and sustainable police service both at the level of its personnel (e.g. questions related to hand over of responsibilities, ongoing training, etc.) and its structure (e.g. questions related to vehicle and infrastructure maintenance, budgeting, evaluation mechanisms, etc.). Placing strong emphasis on sustainability is also consistent with the fundamental SSR principles:

FIGURE 2: the capacity, integrity and sustainability framework (CISF):

The second example relates to an SSR mission tasked with identifying programme options to support the development of police and justice institutions in Kosovo in 2010.  Again, the CIF was used to build a common understanding within the assessment team and to identify programme options that include both capacity building and integrity building concerns at the levels of personnel and organisational structure. In this context, it was not sufficient to focus on one institution but it was necessary to look at the entire criminal justice chain and consider the linkages between the various police and justice institutions. As a result, a third level was introduced into the CIF, the external level in addition to the individual and organisational levels. Doing so helped to consider sectoral concerns and to promote a holistic understanding of security and justice, which is in line with fundamental SSR principles:

FIGURE 3: the CIF with 3 levels


Mark Downes
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Many thanks for this blog Alexander, very useful. I have experience of utilizing the Capacity and Integrity Framework (CiF) during a review of the Serbian police service in 2004 – see further http://www.osce.org/serbia/18310 - the team that was involved found the  CiF an extremely useful tool. It provided a snap-shot of the key capacity and integrity challenges the police service faced, and provided an easy-to-understand way of presenting the key issues for the reader. What I like most about the CiF is that it ensures that you have to deal with both the individual and institutional aspects, as well as the capacity and integrity needs. As such it enshrines one of the key principles of SSR, of ensuring a balance between increasing the effectiveness of security and justice service provision while also enhancing the accountability of the services provided. I highly recommend it as an assessment tool.