Case studies provide excellent insight into the practical challenges of SSR initiatives and provide an opportunity to learn from those that have been successful, and not so successful. They help us to see the patterns of good practice, when to apply different approaches and what pitfalls to avoid. Please add your own case studies to help us build a rich repository of examples from real experience.
After becoming independent from Portugal in 1975, Mozambique, led by the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo), witnessed structural transformation from a colonial state into a modern socialist society. Shortly after, the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo) led a 16 year guerrilla war against the government, at the end of which both the armed forces and the insurgents were devastated. In 1990, Mozambique adopted a new constitution that transformed the political system and sowed the seeds of oversight of the security sector. The war ended with the signature of the Rome Peace Agreement in 1992, which went on to be implemented under the supervision of the United Nations Operation for Mozambique (UNOMOZ).
Later on, the Defense and Security Act (17/97) established a basic legal and institutional framework for the military, police, and intelligence services. This was followed by a law on the Defence and Armed Forces (18/97), but for a long time no similar framework was developed to cover the activity of the Police and of the Intelligence. Reforms in internal security took longer to unfold than in the defence sector, and when they did the government took a strong stance in terms of controlling the process.
At the end of the civil war crime rates increased leading to a negative perception of the Police by the public, which mainly viewed the Polícia da República de Moҫambique (PRM) as inefficient and corrupt. After the 1994 elections the government signalled the intent to start reforms in the Police, leading a group of international donors into forming the Police Donor Group (PDG) in 1996. The PDG, working through UNDP, proposed a police reform package to the government of Mozambique. UNDP coordinated the project aimed at retraining existing cadres and training a new generation of police officers, including the creation of a new police academy, with a view to transforming the PRM into a more efficient and accountable force. UNDP has also supported the development and implementation of a Strategic Plan for the PRM 2003-2012. Alongside efforts in Police reform UNDP also supported efforts to strengthen the Centre for Legal and Judicial Training (CFJJ), which aimed at training new staff for the judicial sector, as well as broader efforts towards rehabilitation of court infrastructure and re-organisation of the sector. Importantly, it helped develop an integrated strategic plan for the justice sector, and supported the beginnings of a long process of penal and prison reforms.
Neutrality and Impartiality – UNDP acted as an impartial coordinator of the programme, managing reform sensitivities in areas in which the government was opposed to external involvement, and third party actors did not want to engage on a bilateral basis.
Support in the development of security and justice reform tools – the supporting role of UNDP to the government and the international donor community in Mozambique was implemented through the undertaking of needs assessments, facilitation of primary research on the institutions at stake, and generation of analyses and policy recommendations for the reform process. The UNDP approach to police and judicial reform combined the same standards and principles which applied to the rest of the public sector’s unique characteristics, overall ensuring a more sustainable reform process. This was a first step in addressing a change in these institutions’ cultures.
Provision of common guidance – all judicial institutions which operated under the umbrella of the integrated justice strategic plan stated that even if they were implementing their respective specific institutional plans, overall they still followed general guidance provided by UNDP for the design and the implementation of their annual plans. The common guidance and strengthened interaction around the implementation of the integrated strategic plan generated a more holistic system contributing to an increase of 30% in the resolution of pending cases, according to the 2004 President’s report on the State of Nation.
According to two external evaluations commissioned by UNDP and the Swiss government, after the UNDP project ending police reform in Mozambique still faced problems. The Swiss report highlighted improvements in the police’ protection of human rights, but huge challenges persisted in the ability to tackle corruption, the absence of long-term planning capacity, and the lack of adequate training programmes. In addition, legislative gaps, including the need for legal frameworks regarding police involvement in natural disaster management, and a required change of attitude with respect to domestic violence and HIV-AIDS interventions were identified.
The evaluations on judicial reform also revealed mixed results. In 2005 the President of the Supreme Court stated that in the previous year the courts performed more efficiently and effectively, but that the practice of each institution adopting a strategic plan without coordinating closely with the others created difficulties in the management of the reform process.
Despite external evaluations stressing the need for further reform, the involvement of UNDP stands out as a case of building local trust and political engagement thanks to its neutral stance during the reform process. As a mediator between Mozambique’s government and donors, UNDP was able to provide guidance for police and judicial institutions that otherwise would have been lacking.
- A.Lalá, L. Francisco, 2008, The Difficulties of Donor Coordination: Police and Judicial Reform in Mozambique, in Managing Insecurity: Field Experiences of Security Sector Reform, eds. G. Peake, E. Scheye and A. Hills
When General Suharto resigned from his presidency in 1998, Indonesia was stuck in an economic and institutional crisis. Power had been centralized in Suharto’s hands for decades, sustained by a highly politicized army. Indonesia’s judiciary had lost its authority, and was also impaired by corruption. At the request of the government of Indonesia, the IMF provided support for economic revival and started focusing on the installation of a bankruptcy regime for corporate sector recovery from 2000 to 2004. The Netherlands supported this endeavour by funding technical assistance to strengthen the judiciary’s capacity for the bankruptcy laws’ implementation.
The IMF/Netherlands Program for Legal and Judicial Reforms created Commercial Courts to this end, but it soon became clear that they could not achieve their aim unless a transformation of the entire judicial system was undertaken: the crisis of the country’s institutions was running so deep that the Commercial Courts suffered from the same shortcomings as the rest of the judiciary. Furthermore, resistance to change among Indonesians complicated the endeavour. Firstly, the externally imposed intervention did not resonate well with key actors, who felt like they had no ownership of the process. Secondly, judicial corruption had become internalised as normal practice over the years, decreasing local actors’ willingness to address them.
The difficult dynamic surrounding the legal and judicial reform changed when a new Chair of the Supreme Court, a non-career judge who was more open to reform, was appointed to replace the retiring Chair. He was not opposed to structural change, which created a window of opportunity to address the deeper issues in the judiciary. The IMF/Netherlands Programme consequently shifted its attention from the Commercial Courts to the Supreme Court, working to restore the latter’s institutional capacity and efficiency.
When the People’s Consultative Assembly, Indonesia’s legislative branch, amended the Constitution to provide for a new Judicial Commission, the IMF/Netherlands Programme initiated a series of workshops and seminars on institutional development. This generated fruitful exchanges between the Supreme Court leadership, the IMF resident experts and NGOs, especially the Institute for Judicial Independence that belonged to the Indonesian Centre for the Study of Law and Policy. The latter started a substantive research process targeting the judiciary, supported by the Supreme Court leadership that granted the researchers access on all levels. These different actors now interacted regularly, complemented by workshops and study trips for the judiciary. The research process produced so-called ‘blueprints’, strategy papers that provided specific approaches to reform at different levels, widely perceived as a significant step to an overall planning model for the reconstruction of the Supreme Court and lower civil courts.
The triangular approach of involving state actors, donors and civil society helped to alter the dynamic of reform in Indonesia. Actors with a strong commitment to reform, such as the Indonesian Centre for the Study of Law and Policy, were given an important voice in the endeavour. As a result the process gained greater legitimacy because local actors complemented donors’ input.
Working with Local Expertise and a Network of Resources – The special relationship that emerged between state, donors and civil society allowed tackling legal and judicial reform on a broad-based footing, drawing strength from a group of committed reformists. The extensive use of local knowledge and expertise, through the inclusion of the Indonesian Centre for the Study of Law and Policy and other civil society organizations, contributed to a sense of genuine ownership of the process which helped to overcome some of the initial resistance to reform. It also motivated the press, the public, and a new generation of NGOs committed to reform, to keep pushing for change.
Identifying and Using Windows of Opportunity – The case shows that momentum for reform can arise suddenly, through small developments such as the arrival of a new person in a key position.Surrounding dynamics should therefore be evaluated carefully with a view to identifying potential entry points, even if they are not obvious at first sight.
Flexibility of Donor Programming and Funding – TheIMF and the Netherland’s had the flexibility to adapt their programme and shift their budget when a window of opportunity appeared, which was paramount to supporting and enhancing the local drive for reform when it occurred. It is fundamental to program success that they have the ability to respond flexibly to such developments.
The IMF/Netherlands Programme created a platform for exchange that helped overcome initial inertia to reform because it brought together different actors and gave a voice to locally rooted, committed reformists. The so-called ‘blueprints’ are a tangible project outcome and present a useful road map with potential to keep the reform momentum alive. Yet, they were not a panacea to repairing the country’s judicial system. Their implementation remains a challenge, in part due to some persisting opposition and in part due to a lack of capacity. At the operational level, judges are required to familiarise themselves with and put into practice these pathways to reform, while political leadership also needs to show willingness and commitment to empower judicial institutions.
At the same time, the triangulation can serve as a model for how reform efforts might be undertaken in other difficult environments, and the blueprints may be a useful planning format for institutional reform outside of Indonesia. Nevertheless, the case also shows that efforts beyond the development of a road map are necessary. The momentum generated through the triangulation process can only be sustained if translated into actual reforms, which remains a challenging task due to persisting opposition and a lack of institutional capacity.
How Political Dialogue Between Donors and the Government Was Instrumental in the Implementation of the Principles of the Paris Declaration for Aid Support to Mozambique
The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) and the Accra Agenda for Action (signed in 2008 to support the implementation of the first document) are two key documents aiming to provide guidelines for Aid Effectiveness. They set out a practical, action-orientated roadmap to improve the quality of aid and its impact on development. The documents consist in action-focused guidelines organized around five principles (Ownership, Alignment, Harmonisation, Managing for Results, Mutual Accountability), and require both partner countries and donors to mutually assess their commitment to Aid Effectiveness.
Until the discovery in 2015/2016 of illegally contracted debt by the Mozambican government in charge from 2009-2014, Mozambique provided the international community with a good case study to assess the effectiveness of political dialogue on the delivery of international aid. The country evolved from around 90% of foreign aid dependence in 1992 -when a peace agreement was achieved following 16 years of violent armed conflict- into about 25% in 2016. A fragmented context of aid delivery characterised by duplication, competition, creation of parallel structures, stringent conditionality and burdensome reporting in the 1990s was transformed into one of coordination of international cooperation and mutual donor-national partner accountability.
A framework for mutual accountability existed in the country since 2005, establishing the main coordination principles for international cooperation. In 2010 the government adopted an International Cooperation Policy and its Implementation Strategy. Mutual accountability in this case entailed a regular process of bringing together the civil society, the international community, and state bodies in dialogue and consultation. These interactions occurred within a tiered mechanism comprising, first, sector and thematic groups, second, management groups, and third, political-level exchange. The collaboration was based on the follow-up of an agenda of shared interests, aiming to consolidate the behaviour change required to see significant results.
The donors’ and Mozambique’s aid approaches shifted from project-oriented to sector-specific assistance and general budget support. Budget support activities, such as sectoral support and budget overview were instrumental in maintaining continued dialogue between the parties. It contributed to the implementation of a solid dialogue structure, built on the definition of policy goals and a framework for annual monitoring. A Performance Assessment Framework, defined by a Memorandum of Understanding, acted as the main instrument for monitoring and evaluation between the national government and 19 donors (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain, Spain, Canada, the WB and the AfDB. The US, Japan and the UN were associate members). The overall implementation of the Paris Declaration on aid assistance to Mozambique was monitored through surveys that took place in 2006 (base-line), 2008 (mid-term) and 2011 (final evaluation).
Country-level evaluation as an incentive for good practice – Mozambique and donors agreed to robust, data driven, country level assessment of progress, which was the basis for political level discussions on what had been achieved and what should be done further. The existence of an agreed strategy between both parties, as well as of aid effectiveness targets and assessments undertaken by both sides, were prerequisites for success. Evaluation reports showed that participants from the state of Mozambique considered the programme as serious and of high value. This positive appreciation represented a major step towards mutual trust.
Political Dialogue is more efficient on a sector-based approach – In sectors where the partner’s priority matches the donor’s agenda, and where dialogue is strong enough to allow a mutually-defined strategy, funding is more likely to flow according to the Paris Declaration principles. In Mozambique this trend was observed by comparing aid to the health sector, which had been informed by strong ownership and a clear vision, to the agriculture sector where the support funds reduced significantly over time.
To be effective Political Dialogue has to be inclusive of all major aid partners - The BRICS provided a considerable share of aid to Mozambique but were not part of the G-19 and the abovementioned arrangements for aid harmonisation. As a result the policy influence of the donors became even further limited as domestic resource revenue increased.
Sustainability of positive results requires inclusion of the justice and security sectors into the political dialogue and progress in these areas – The joint reviews generated renewed impetus to implementation of legal and judicial reforms. However, appraisal of progress on justice related reforms was contentious between Mozambique’s government and the donors, due to slow progress in increasing efficiency, transparency, and human rights compliance. The security sector was not part of the framework of thematic and sector exchanges, and therefore was absent from the political dialogue, opening-up to vulnerabilities from a governance standpoint.
Political discussion and dialogue enshrined in the Paris Declaration had become an integral component of the interaction between most Western donors and Mozambique’s government. Thanks to several awareness-raising initiatives, a number of civil society bodies took part in the dialogue process, and participated actively on discussions around the role of civil society in promoting aid effectiveness. Specific support was provided to civil society by the UN and donors, with the government of Mozambique committed to engage with it more closely.
The fact that donor resources were channelled through pooled accounts and managed through national systems enabled the government to incorporate most sectoral funding into the national budget, allowing it to better design and implement programmes according to own priorities. In addition, it resulted in greater accountability to the citizens and the Parliament, which gained better visibility and control over budget approval and its implementation.
A well organised dialogue on policies and results achieved through donor harmonisation has been established through the lessons of the Budget Support. Alignment of the government of Mozambique and Budget Support partners was consequently improved. This has given rise to a well-organized and publicly accessible database of international support provided across sectors (ODAMOZ). The annual review on governance and fight against corruption through the Budget Support dialogue generated some progress in those areas. The mutual accountability framework pioneered in Mozambique has been highlighted as an international reference, for having improved relations between donors and partners. However, despite improvements in public finance management, in multi-stakeholder dialogue and harmonisation of aid, these efforts did not resist a break in trust between donors and the Government upon the discovery of the latter’s hidden loans, allegedly to finance the security sector. Improved national capacity to manage the complex dialogue mechanism, better public finance management monitoring, and a stronger culture of good governance are key to sustainability.
- Mutual Accountability at the Country Level: Mozambique Country Case Study, Geoff Handley.
- Joint strategic evaluation of Budget Support for Mozambique (2005-2012) European Commission, the Ministry of Planning and Development of Mozambique, and the evaluation departments of Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Finland, the Netherlands and France
- Independent Evaluation of Budget Support in Mozambique Final Report Volume I, 2014
- Implementing the Paris Declaration Commitments and Building on the Accra Agenda for Action, African Development Fund
Guatemala experienced over three decades of intermittent armed conflict starting in the 1960s. Among the main perpetrators of violence were illegal security forces and clandestine security structures (Cuerpos Ilegales y Aparatos Clandestinos de Seguridad CIACS). When peace was made in 1996, the country was marked by violence, poverty and institutional weakness, fostering corruption and impunity. Commitments to strengthening justice and human rights institutions, fighting impunity for human rights violations and dismantling paramilitary groups were included in the 1996 Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace.
Due to the continued influence and threat of remaining CIACS, in 2002 a civil society proposal called for an international commission to investigate threats against the justice institutions responsible for investigating their crimes. After four years of intense political dialogue and continuous international pressure the Agreement to Establish the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) was signed by the Guatemalan government and the United Nations in 2006. CICIG was established in 2007 with a two-year mandate as an independent, international body to support state institutions and strengthen criminal justice and accountability for crimes committed by members of CIACS. It is set to end in September 2017, but the Guatemalan president has already suggested seeking approval from the national congress to renew the mandate for another 2 years as had been the practice established by his predecessors.
The agreement establishing CICIG stated two main objectives: to support, strengthen and assist state institutions responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crimes allegedly committed by CIACS or associated with them, and on the other hand to establish mechanisms and procedures for the protection of the right to life and to personal integrity, pursuant to international commitments with respect to the protection of fundamental rights.
CICIG was thus tasked with investigating and identifying existing CIACS structures, forms of operation and sources of financing, as well as assisting the state to dismantle CIACS and investigate and prosecute members for their crimes. In addition CICIG was tasked with making public policy and institutional reform recommendations to prevent the re-emergence of such groups to the Guatemalan government.
CICIG supported the Guatemalan government in various roles, ranging from providing technical support for specialized training courses to acting as a private prosecutor. Achievements include the creation of a witness protection programme, tightened gun controls, rules for court-ordered wiretaps and the freezing of assets, the creation of high-risk courts for especially dangerous defendants, investigations resulting in charges against top public officials for extrajudicial prosecutions, fraud, illicit association and homicide. Most notably, it has exposed the massive corruption scheme La Línea in 2015, leading to the resignation and arrest of president Otto Pérez Molina. According to a 2016 report, CICIG is supported by 66% of the Guatemalan society and is thus the most trusted institution in the country.
Political independence is crucial, so is political will:
The political and economic independence of CICIG has allowed for changes and reforms that national institutions struggled to implement. The political will by the national leadership was necessary for a politically independent and powerful CICIG; results would have been harder to achieve if CICIG did not engage at the higher level to channel political will, a task that would be a major role of the CICIG Commissioner. The political pressure by the international community could be considered equally as important in securing political buy in.
Trust-building can enhance marge de manoeuvre and effectiveness
An official agreement with the national government, like the one CICIG had with Guatemala, is vital in building local trust with key judicial institutions. Although the CICIG relied on the support of Guatemalan civil society groups working for human rights and justice to achieve effective outcomes, their partnership with the Public Prosecutor was fundamental. Skills and competences were transferred through trust-based forms of collaboration involving joint working groups, investigations and trial preparations. The support CICIG enjoyed from governmental and non-governmental agents enabled CICIG to work on a wide range of issues and effectively tackle challenges. This support laid the foundations for working relationships to become based on trust as senior state officials were being successfully prosecuted, and judicial actors and human rights defenders were becoming less threatened.
CICIG’s working strategy and political activism opened doors for others to succeed
CICIG’s achievements were highly influenced by the personal management of each commissioner, who would become extremely visible public figures. Political activism was critical to removing obstacles within a mandate lasting only 2 years, with no automatic guarantees of extension. CICIG’s working strategy had to carefully plan and prioritise investigations under these restrictions as well as ensure an enabling environment for the local judicial system. CICIG thus assumed high profile cases that would produce the most strategic impact in combating impunity and orientated their local capacity building strategy to meet this objective. These high profile cases primarily focused on influential State actors with ties to criminal organisations rather than focusing on crimes of the past, considered a fundamental part of the Peace Accords and the basis for the genesis of the CICIG. However, with the spotlight on the CICIG and its achievements many key human rights cases dealing with crimes of the past were significantly advanced. This included the sentencing of two former members of the military to 360 years in jail for the murder, rape and sexual enslavement of indigenous women (Sepur Zarco Case 2016) and arrest of several former military officers on charges of forced disappearance and crimes against humanity based on evidence uncovered at the military center in Cobán.
With the exposure of the corruption scheme La Línea and the resignation and arrest of a president, CICIG is generally considered a success story. Between 2008 and 2014, the level of impunity in the country decreased (Public Prosecutor’s Office, Work Reports 2008-2013; Annual Reports 2014-2015), and is likely to continue decreasing as a result of a more effective criminal justice system. In addition, the issue of impunity is no longer simply a priority issue for human rights NGOs, but is now of greater visible interest to the general public as citizens are becoming more proactive and vocal in demanding to tackle impunity and corruption and hold government officials responsible.
CICIG resolved numerous legal cases in cooperation with the public prosecutors. The most frequently cited achievements include the above-mentioned La Línea, as well as helping to reveal the mechanism behind targeted killings linked back to a former minister of the interior (Ibid.). Today, CICIG serves as a good practice example for tackling corruption and organised crime facilitated by weak state institutions.
Crutch to Catalyst? The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, International Crisis Group, 2016.
Against the Odds, CICIG in Guatemala, Open Society Institute, 2016.