Developing an inception phase for an SSR programme in Yemen


In 1994, Yemen finally achieved unification and began the process of modernising its government structures and activities. Although results are being achieved, the process is slow, the justice and security system in Yemen is weak, and linkages within the sector are in need of further development. Violence and disorder remain problematic in various regions throughout the country, as large areas do not have either a police or a judicial presence. It is estimated that over 80% of all judicial and security services are provided by non-state actors. Access to justice and safety for marginalised and excluded social groups is also poor in many areas.

Entry point

The government of Yemen requested international donor support for their ongoing justice and security development activities. Over the course of 12 months, an international and national multidisciplinary team — including security, judicial, prison, governance, and public administration practitioners, along with an anthropologist and legal sociologist — went on a series of missions to Yemen to develop a one-year inception phase assistance programme. As a result of this assessment, the inception phase activities will focus on a police management support programme to assist government planning, performance evaluation, and local police station problem-solving initiatives, while judicial support is to concentrate on providing concrete assistance with information management, particularly with regard to enhancing judicial inspections and court administration. The third element of the support programme is attempting to establish a social fund for justice, whose activities would seek to improve access to justice for all, particularly marginalised and vulnerable groups.

Lessons learned

Be aware of the sensitivity of conducting needs assessments — It may sometimes be politically impossible to conduct extensive performance, management and needs assessments of security and justice institutions. One strategy may be to incorporate multiple, narrowly defined evaluations as outputs of a “quick win” initiative designed to achieve an immediate improvement of service delivery

Carefully design pilot projects — Pragmatism and political realism are vital in the formulation and delivery of pilot projects. If such projects are to build the trust and confidence of the partner government they must meet its needs while seeking to verify their commitment to sustainable justice and security development.

Management arrangements are important — An inception phase may be well designed, but it will be ineffective if equal consideration is not given to managing its implementation. It may be beneficial to ensure that people involved in designing the inception phase and planning long-term assistance remain closely involved in the management of the inception activities to ensure continuity, institutional memory and the confidence of local stakeholders.

*From the OECD DAC Handbook on Security System Reform: Supporting Security and Justice