The primary audience for this research paper is the strategic planner in fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS), understood broadly as any actor involved in either the formulation of national priorities to mitigate or recover from conflict, or the design of international strategies to support such priorities. The paper explores the tensions and tradeoffs incurred throughout the planning process on a range of engagement principles, including national ownership, prioritization, and sequencing. It aims to serve two purposes: i) provide a broad concept of key elements of planning and ii) identify key recommendations for engagement as well as policy and capacity gaps in the international community’s support of strategic planning processes
The first section of the paper offers general considerations related to i) the tradeoffs and tensions inherent to strategic planning processes in FCAS, and ii) the challenges and opportunities that planners face, as a means to set the context and rationale for the guidance and recommendations presented throughout the paper. The second and third sections discuss the prerequisites for and the actual steps of the strategic planning process, with a focus on current practice and its range of tradeoffs and tensions, including challenges in formulating results for greater accountability and issues related, inter alia, to ownership, prioritization, and funding. The conclusion presents a summary of findings, along with key policy recommendations drawn from the analysis and the case studies, as well as suggested areas where further research could strengthen the international community’s capacities to support strategic planning processes.