Joint Norwegian Swedish SSR Assessment in Liberia

Target country

Mandataire

Norway and Sweden have requested ISSAT support to carry out an SSR Assessment in Liberia with a view to providing  recommendations on how these two countries can best contribute to the SSR process in Liberia. 

The assessment focused on two key aspects:

  1. Potential areas/sectors for Swedish/Norwegian support.
  2. Funding mechanism s in place that could potentially be used by Norway and Sweden to support Liberia’s SSR efforts.

To address these two issues, ISSAT considered the following sub-questions:

  1. What are the challenges and opportunities for SSR in the short term (2012-13), medium term (next 5 years) and long term (10-15 years)?
  2. To what extent are current donor engagements, including Norway’s and Sweden’s, addressing the above challenges and opportunities?
  3. How can additional support complement and strengthen ongoing initiatives?
  4. Are the funding mechanisms in place in Liberia efficient, and do the activities they support sufficiently address the Liberian people’s needs for access to security and justice?
  5. How can the joint collaboration between Norway and Sweden in SSR bring about synergies and maximize resources/results?

Related activities

Mandate outputs / products

  1. An overview of the progress of the SSR process so far with an analysis of the challenges and opportunities short, medium and long term.
  2. An overview of Norway’s and Sweden’s support to SSR in Liberia
  3. Concrete recommendations for entry points for new and continued engagement in the SSR process, based on security and justice sector strategies of the Government of Liberia and Norway’s and Sweden’s development strategies, and taking into account the activities of other donors/international partners engaged in Liberia
  4. An assessment of best possible mechanism(s) for channeling new Norwegian and Swedish support to SSR efforts in Liberia, to include: 
    1. An assessment of the UNDP Justice and Security Trust Fund
    2. Comparative analysis of using pooled fund mechanism versus bilateral support in Liberian SSR context.
    3. An analysis and assessment of potential alternative pool fund structures
    4. Recommendations and/or pros and cons for each option

Summary

Cours Spécifiques Identifiées

Défis

  • Relying on assumptions: prior good practice with the one of the mandators was enough for ISSAT to lower the defence mechanisms on behalf of ISSAT, assuming that inspite of the early negative signs, the mission will probably go well.
  • Overlapping of this mission with high-level visit: Team was aware that the Norwegian Minister for Development was intending to visit during their presence in country; however this was not expected to block the mission’s work. Nevertheless, in reality, the team leader who was a Norwegian national was deeply involved in this visit which led to her distraction from the priority and importance of the assessment mission. This impacted negatively the team’s work especially that the leader did not delegate some of her roles to guarantee a smooth flow of work during the visit. 
  • Division of labour between the two mandators: one of the mandators relied entirely on the other for all planning issues and was completely absent from preparations.

Recommandations

  • ISSAT AFS discussions session on mission planning:There needs to be a more rigorous approach within ISSAT when mandates show various signs of low or insufficient engagement capabilities on the side of the mandator. A fine balance needs to be struck between the technical, political and diplomatic dimensions of a mandate. This balance needs to be monitored throughout the planning phase and not only upon approval of mandate. This fact is rendered more complex ISSAT Advisors’ status when they deploy under mandators’ hats. The nature of their roles (reinforce and not replace) locks them in situations where they are: responsible for the mission’s performance, building the capacity of the team, the “guardian’s of SSR doctrine” and trying not to appear as the leaders of the mission. In this mission, the Advisors were in the difficult position of needing to perform while the leader was alternating between open and flexible attitudes and -then without priori warning and with no apparent reason- imposing her own methods of work which were not sufficient or adequate to achieve the needed results while micro-managing the team. One of the two mandators’ lack of engagement is also reflected during the report-writing phase, where the Advisors find themselves  to be working in tandem with one mandator which in theory should be done by the owner of the mission (mandator) with the support and the monitoring of ISSAT. Hence, in the absence of engagement/technical capabilities of the mandator/team leader, ISSAT Advisors are pushed towards eventually expanding their role beyond “supporting” and towards “replacing” the mandator in producing the outputs even during missions where there was no leeway for them to sufficiently influence field work, ensuring sound collection of data and information as a necessary basis for the analysis work. As a result, this mission team is required to sign off on products, whose quality or views, they do not necessarily approve of. Risks of low engagement should be realistically assessed prior to deployment and mitigation strategies should be thought through as much as possible.This After Action Review recommends a full discussion session for the AFS team under the leadership of Mark Downes. The session’s objective would be to discuss the various challenges that that the AFS are facing in implementing their missions and that could be tackled at the planning phase, suggesting possible mitigation strategies. In that respect, the After Action Reviews Focal Point will prepare a note to be shared with Mark Downes and the AFS and based on which the discussions session could be organised. The AAR FP will organise date for such an event.

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Défis

  • ToRs: The Mandators hardly contributed to the design of the ToRs; the design process was completely left for ISSAT to undertake. 

Succès

  • Joint mandate:This was a joint-mandate mission given to ISSAT by two mandators.
  • ToRs: Team consulted in ToRs design

Recommandations

  • ToRs: This mission contributes to a long register of After Action Review highlighting the importance of ToRs as a “framework of protection” for ISSAT Advisors once on the field. Clear and detailed  ToRs with specific roles and deliverables are key for ISSAT Advisors, especially when the mission is in highly politically-charged contexts (as per the mission in Guinea Conakry in March 2012) or when the mission team is deployed within teams with very poor leadership (as per this mission and the Evaluation mission in Congo in November 2010).
  • Team meetings:End-of-day team debriefings are a key practice that has proved its success in all previous missions. This is something that needs to continue to be implemented. However, they need to be structured and times so as not to become a useless waste of time. Also, team leader should make sure that structured internal discussions within team need to be achieved before meeting with external partners. The objective here is to harmonize teams understanding of objectives, expectations and challenges of the interactions with the mission’s partners.

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Défis

  • National stakeholders were contacted before the mission to be informed of its objectives and outputs by one of the mandators.
  • During implementation, interviews and exchanges included state and non-state actors except for media.

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Défis

  • Mission Lead: One of the mission leads lacked basic leadership skills related to strategic vision and facilitation of team efforts for optimisation of results. Mission lead played the role of micro-manager of which team member goes where or does what, weighing too much on individual styles of work and thus frustrating the team. Also the team leader in question obviously lacked minimum levels of motivation for this mission. This might be linked to the fact that she was losing her job right after the mission. Team debriefings: end-of-day team debriefings were mostly absent and when organised they were unstructured and dealt with irrelevant issues thus becoming an obstructive practice to the performance of the team.

Succès

  • ISSAT’s policy for deploying two experts:this worked very well in terms of creating an ISSAT nucleus to counter-balance the bad practice of the team leader. Both ISSAT Advisors agree that the presence of the other was a very important factor of support and facilitated exchanges vis-à-vis the mandator.
  • Division of labour: In cases like this where team dynamics are more obstructive than constructive, insisting on division of labour and agreeing on specific tasks for team members is key for progress. ISSAT team pushed for a clear list of deliverables that they then sent around in a written email to ISSAT leadership and mandators so as to clarify as much as possible work flows and expectations for post-mission work.
  • Transition of information between ISSAT teams: the mission team was briefed by ISSAT Advisor who was previously involved with the same mandator in the target country. However, the change in the employment situation of the mandator (loss of post) influenced immensely a change in behaviour and performance. 

Recommandations

  • Mission Lead: Mission leads need to dispose of minimum leadership skills. This is something that lies outside the scope of ISSAT’s direct influence. However, due to the important negative effects of lack in leadership on the performance of the mission, ISSAT should use its Advocacy and Outreach service line to raise awareness on this issue. Also, it is preferable not to send persons who are about to lose their job on missions. This is another factor that might lie beyond ISSAT’s direct scope of influence but could be tackled through the Advocacy and Outreach Service Line.
  • Attitude of ISSAT Advisors in absence of leadership: Some strategies that have been identified by ISSAT Advisors who were supposed to operate under team leaders that did not dispose of leadership skills included one-on-one discussions with team leader to clarify areas of misunderstanding and also confidence-building for the team leader in parallel with the mission.

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