Category Archives: conflict

A position paper highlighting the need for better monitoring and evaluation of projects in the security and justice sectors following conflict – Jo Panayiotou

The Issue

The other day I agreed to read through an evaluation report written by a colleague following some training he had facilitated in Nigeria. Headline comment was the number of individuals that had completed the training and the capabilities they consequently had. I asked him how he knew the Nigerians would incorporate their training into their work and he looked at me blankly. Browsing through other reports, I found a similar story; evaluation was focusing on output rather than result. When searching for the reason for this I found the initial training requests had been agreed based on numbers trained. With no pressure to justify the effectiveness of the training, we hadn’t bothered. Both sides were ostensibly happy, we could boast about how we were helping to develop the capacity of the Nigerian security sector and they could publicise progress by their willingness to complete internationally recognised courses. Assigning monitoring and evaluation to an afterthought appears to typify the approach taken towards both by many projects and has led to deep concern over the effectiveness of such efforts in helping to ensure projects are meeting their objectives (Anderson, Chigas and Woodrow, 2007).

The aim of monitoring and evaluation is to ascertain the relevance and achievement of objectives, impact and sustainability (Popovic, 2008). Rynn and Hiscock (2009) suggest evaluation of projects in the security and justice sectors is done badly for many reasons. Firstly due to the challenges facing projects in general such as staff finding it burdensome, weak incentives to invest in evaluation, evaluation being poorly funded and donor-driven targets distorting priorities; but there are also challenges faced specifically by security and justice projects. Both sectors are complex thus it can be hard to isolate and evaluate changes, programme objectives can be deliberately vague to allow space to develop, projects can have multiple strands and budgets with little cohesion between the various mandates, actors can have limited understanding of evaluation processes and in fragile environments it can be difficult to gather evaluation evidence. The result is that monitoring and evaluation is frequently not done, and if done, not done well.

What Needs to be Done

What needs to be done is very clear. Yes, there are many challenges involved with monitoring and evaluating projects in post-conflict areas but tools, guidelines and systems already exist for other contexts that just require a bit of adaptation (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011). Rather than being a complex process that is poorly understood and therefore avoided, project managers need to ensure that individuals who are skilled in this area are employed and all other workers understand the importance of carrying out monitoring and evaluation. The best way to make this happen is ensuring monitoring and evaluation is planned for right from the inception stage of a project.

Why

As stated by Vandermoortele (2015), there are two fundamental reasons why security and justice projects need to be adequately monitored and evaluated. Firstly, so we can learn from our failures, indeed without adequate evaluation we may not even realise that we are failing. In Iraq following the 2003 intervention, several organisations ran projects to assist the state in managing its newly organised agricultural sector, seemingly successful in themselves but a lack of monitoring and evaluating impact meant that much needed help for the farmers to grow and distribute their produce was overlooked and consequently produce ended up rotting as people starved (Hassin and Isakhan, 2016). Funding is a finite resource, it is therefore essential that truly successful projects are identified so they can be scaled up or replicated and unsuccessful projects can either be restructured or closed down.

The second fundamental need for monitoring and evaluation is so we can highlight positive achievements (Vandermoortele, 2015). Documented evidence of success obtained through monitoring and evaluation can serve as a catalyst for attracting further funds and help convince recipients of the credibility of the projects. It can also highlight projects that are having similar effects in the same communities and so help refine and deconflict objectives to ensure resources across all projects are having the maximum effect in the targeted communities.

Summary

Monitoring and evaluation needs to be an integral element of all security and justice projects in post-conflict areas as it is the only way to determine if projects are successful or not. To overlook monitoring and evaluation is to risk consigning valuable resources, time and effort to projects that do not work and not learning the valuable lessons from projects that are successful.

Postscript

There are two main reasons why monitoring and evaluation are not done well. First, I believe they are poorly understood. Within my own organisation, the British Army, external evaluation cells across the training establishments were the first to be cut when it came to finding savings because their purpose and value were not understood. The same applies when it comes to the work we do abroad helping to improve the capacity of foreign armies. People are willing to release funds to send across training teams to conduct the training because there are tangible outputs – hands to be shaken, photos to be taken. It becomes extremely difficult to persuade the budget holders to follow up the training with evaluation because it is seen as taking funds away from further training.

This leads on to the second reason, an unwillingness to invest resources. As stated above, monitoring and especially evaluation in post-conflict environments can be challenging. Without having a clear idea of how they could be done effectively, it is easier to do nothing. Additionally, more often than not, projects are competing for funds and are under pressure to demonstrate value for money. Conducting effective evaluation could provide this evidence in the longer term but in the shorter term, it requires resources but may provide no tangible gain to the project. It therefore may seem to be expedient to concentrate all resources towards achieving the maximum results in the short term to procure further funds.

References

Anderson, M., Chigas, D. and Woodrow, P. (2007) Encouraging Effective Evaluation of Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding, Paris: OECD, http://www.oecd.org/dac/evaluation/dcdndep/39660852.pdf, (accessed 26th March 2016).

Hassin, A. and Isakhan, B. (2016) ‘The Failures of Neo-Liberal State Building in Iraq: Assessing Australia’s Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Initiatives’ Australian Journal of Politics and History 62(1): 87-99.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, (2011) Handbook on Security System Reform, Paris: OECD.

Popovic, N. (2008) ‘Security Sector Reform Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation and Gender’ in M. Bastick and K. Valasek (eds) Gender and Security Sector Reform Toolkit, Geneva: DCAF, OSCE/ODIHR.

Rynn, S. and Hiscock, D. (2009) Evaluating for Security and Justice, London: Saferworld.

Vandemoortele, A. (2015) Learning from Failure? British and European Approaches to Security and Justice Programming, http://www.ssrresourcecentre.org/2015/03/13/learning-from-failure-british-and-european-approaches-to-security-and-justice-programming/, (accessed 26th March 2016).

Position Paper on the Proliferation and Misuse of Small Arms and Light Weapons in West Africa – Claude Kondor

It has become increasingly clear that as complex security challenges emerge and evolve, old ones still persist. The end of the cold war witnessed the significant proliferation of intrastate conflicts, including guerrilla warfare wherein Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) became the preferred choice of warlords to pursue their brutal aspirations (Peace Building Initiatives, 2011a). Saferworld (2011) argues that SALW are desirable because they are highly portable, deadly, easy to conceal and manipulated to kill millions of people.  Therefore, the fundamental issue that requires increased international attention is “The Proliferation and Misuse of Small Arms and Light Weapons in West Africa”, which according to the Department of Criminology (2015) is the most tangible threat that undermines international peace and security. The Department of Criminology (2013) further highlights that the availability of SALW especially in post-conflict environment undermines security and the rule of law, and has adverse effects on the promotion of democracy and good governance, national reconciliation, the protection of human rights, and socio-economic development.

Frey (2004) notes that the global estimated figure of firearms is 640 million which are utilised to kill thousands of people every year. The Small Arms Survey (2003; 2004),  cited in the report of the UN Secretary-General (2008), states that over 1,000 companies in about 100 countries are involved in the manufacture of nearly 8 million small arms annually. It further estimates that at least 300,000 people are killed annually as a result of the misuse of these weapons. For instance, SALW account for between 60 and 90 percent of loss of lives during conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Cote d’ Ivoire and Mali.  Therefore it is not shocking that they have been described by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as “weapons of mass destruction in slow motion” (Krause, 2007a:1).

It is against this backdrop that Campaign for Security Everywhere (CASE), a non-governmental organisation working in the areas of security, human rights and justice in Sierra Leone, makes its position very clear in terms of combating the illicit proliferation, circulation and trafficking of SALW, which is in accordance with the 1999 ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and other related Materials (Aning, 2008).    This was well-intentioned by the Authority of Heads of State in order to achieve sustainable peace, stability and development in West Africa. However, ECOWAS has been confronted with numerous challenges, including violent conflicts, in its bid to achieve its initial objective of regional economic integration since its establishment in 1975. It is nevertheless glaring that all these conflicts have been underpinned by the proliferation and misuse of SALW.

To this end, CASE seeks to assist ECOWAS member states in combating the illicit proliferation, circulation and misuse of SALW through advocacy and sensitisation, lobbying of authorities, and also strengthen relevant institutions and civil society actors through capacity building to put an end to this complex and multidimensional phenomenon. The Peace Building Initiative (2011b) suggests tangible ways of regulating the flow and use of illicit SALW including their production and control of movement, regulating civilian possession and use of weapons, and the collection and destruction of weapons as means of getting out of this security conundrum at the national, regional and global levels. Overall, the effective and efficient coordination and collaboration among relevant actors are also quite significant in yielding the synergistic effect of combating the proliferation and misuse of SALW.

Experience has shown that security vacuum frequently follows the end of armed conflict. During this period, people trust SALW for self-protection especially in situations where the security forces are part of the conflict. In addition, some regard their weapons as means of livelihood and are therefore confident in keeping them. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (2003) notes that while it is indeed acceptable that licit arms are quite essential in the maintenance of law and order, the uncontrolled proliferation and misuse of such items grossly undermines stability. Consequently, the effective and efficient control of SALW is without doubt a prerequisite for sustainable peace, security and stability in any post-conflict environment.

In a nutshell, the complete eradication of SALW is a significant step in restoring justice and security in post-conflict environments, and therefore should be the utmost priority of the relevant actors including the international community. Arms do not distinguish between sexes, age, tribe, rich, poor, disabled, educated, illiterate, or religious denomination. So let us all join hands together in harmony to completely eradicate this complex reality for the sake of ourselves and posterity.

Postscript

The issue of SALW is transnational in nature which further complicates the matter especially due to cultural and legislative disparities, and lack of political will on the part of member states to end the menace (OECD, 2007). Moreover, Krause (2007b) argues that contextual differences on the issue of SALW pose a major challenge especially in post-conflict situations where the proliferation of SALW undermines peace, security and development.

Additionally, despite clear international standards that have been well articulated, members of the security forces including the police, military, intelligence forces, and other state agents, are in most cases found guilty of committing serious human rights violations using SALW. A typical example of this occurred in Guinea where pro-democracy demonstrators were shot and killed at the stadium on 28th September 2011.   Another fundamental problem in the control of SALW is that actors involved in the sales and trafficking of SALW including terrorist groups, drug barons, and other organised criminal groups are politically and economically powerful, and have the resources to bulldoze their ways to achieve their selfish interests.

In conclusion, the issue of SALW is highly political involving numerous gladiators especially at the strategic level, and the complexities involved make it very difficult to address. However, these are likely surmountable if national accountability, transparency and control mechanisms are strengthened, coupled with strong political will at all levels of implementing the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (IPI, 2009).

References

Aning, K. (2008) ‘From ‘voluntary’ to a ‘binding’ process: towards the securitisation of small arms’, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 26 (2):169-181.

Department of Criminology (2013) Security and Rule of Law in Post-Conflict States, Leicester: Department of Criminology, University of Leicester.

Department of Criminology (updated 2015) Conflict and Global Risks, Leicester: Department of Criminology, University of Leicester.

Frey, B. (2004) ‘Small Arms and Light Weapons: The Tools Used to Violate Human Rights’, Human Rights, Human Security, and Disarmament 3: 37-46.

IPI (2009) ‘Small Arms and Light Weapons: Task Forces on Strengthening Multilateral Security Capacity’, IPI Blue Paper No. 5, New York: IPI, available at http://www.ipacademy.org/media/pdf/publications/salw_epub.pdf.

Krause, K. (2007) ‘Small Arms and Light Weapons: Towards Global Public Policy’, Coping with Crisis Working Paper Series, New York: IPA.

OECD (2007) OECD DAC Handbook of Security System Reform: Supporting Security and Justice, Paris: OECD, available at http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/43/25/38406485.pdf.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (2003) Handbook of Best Practices on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Vienna: OSCE, available at http://www.osce.org/fsc/13616.

Peace Building Initiative (2011) Small Arms and Light Weapons, Peace Building Initiative website, accessed on 11 January 2016, available at http://www.peacebuildinginitiative.org/index.cfm?pageId=1732.

Saferworld (2011) Small arms and light weapons, Saferworld website, accessed on 12 January 2016, available at http://www.saferworld.org.uk/what/small-arms-and-light-weapons.

UNSG (2008) ‘Small Arms’, S/2008/258, New York: UN, available at http://www.un.org/disarmament/convarms/SALW/Docs/SGReportonSmallArms2008.pdf.

Corruption – Gregory Pye

Reflecting on the course content carefully, the author has selected corruption as a topic for further discussion. Although included in course content, it is the view of the author that the subject does not have the degree of prominence necessary, to reflect the true reality and importance of corruptive practices, with which individuals working and living in post conflict situations, have to contend on a daily basis. Having lived and worked in Afghanistan for a number of years, the author is confronted by corruptive behaviours, at all levels of society, as an integral part of daily living and working experiences. Beyond the daily expectations of IED,s, Taliban attacks, suicide bombers and hashish fuelled hostility, the single foremost element which generates antagonism, frustration and personal conflict amongst international workers, is the endemic corruption, which prevails across the country. Corruption, by its very nature can be difficult to detect, as the serious Fraud Office indicates (Serious Fraud Office, 2015) the process involves two or more people entering into a secret agreement. Corruption watchdog of transparency International, indicate that corruption can involve abuse of power and resources at any level, within any sector, including businesses, public institutions and the government. (Transparency International global coalition against corruption, 2014). Corruption poses a fundamental threat by diverting public resources into private hands, away from those who should be benefiting directly in post conflict environments and continues to be a major obstacle to poverty alleviation, development and the building of security and justice. The range of activities can be considerable, encompassing as it does, accepting bribes, double dealing, under table transactions, diverting funds, manipulating officials and elections, money laundering and defrauding investors (Investopedia, 2015).

Achieving stability and security is a top priority for any intervention by the international community in an unstable post conflict country. Corruption is potentially fatal to long term stability and security and therefore countering it should be considered a pressing fundamental objective. It is difficult to read accounts about Afghanistan, without reference to multiple references to corruption. Afghanistan remains one of the worst performing countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, ranking in the bottom four in 2014, along with Sudan, North Korea and Somalia (Transparency International, 2014). Scandals range from the Kabul Bank misappropriation of 93 million dollars and the suspension of IMF support, (BBC, 2014) to articles concerning provincial and district police chiefs buying their positions for$100,000. Incredulous as these reports may seem, the author can recount numerous occasions where he has had to fight against corruption at great personal threat to his life. For example in March 2014 the Medium Tax office (MTO) , based in Kabul, received $165,000 in ‘consultants tax’, this money never reached the company tax compliance account, it was taken by an MTO employee, who paid off the National Security Directorate (NDS), who then arrested the author and warned him that this matter should be ‘left alone’! A further reality is the need to carry $1000 in a money belt in order to deal with daily confrontations by police and officials. The levels of corruption in the country are extreme. According to a recent Asia Foundation Study, in 2014, 62.4% of Afghans reported that corruption was a major problem (Asia Foundation, 2014)

In 2012, the Afghan population considered corruption, together with insecurity and unemployment, to be one of the principal challenges facing their country, ahead of even poverty, security, external influence and government inefficiency (UNODC, 2012). Afghanistan has national anti corruption plans, laws, executive decrees and Government instruments all devoted to the fight against corruption, particular the High Office of Oversight and Anti Corruption (HOO), is mandated to co-ordinate and implement the national strategy. Inspite of the continuing efforts of this body, together with the Police, courts, Attorney General’s Office and a plethora of other related organisations, corruption continues to escalate unabated.

The causes are variable and complex. In an attempt to determine and analyse underlying processes, an insight into the historical, economy, social structure, cultural and religious practices of the Afghan Nation is elemental. Poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, weak government, drug trafficking and fear, are all instrumental factors in perpetuating an apparently intractable situation. As Lockheart, 2014, suggested, ‘The nexus of security, conflict and international development is new and a comparatively understudied area of work’ (Lockheart, 2014).

The same level of limited academic scrutiny can also be said to exist in the field of corruption research. Solutions are multifaceted, lengthy to implement and many lessons are yet to emerge from work being conducted in combating corruption in a number of post conflict countries, which may be significant in addressing the problems in Afghanistan. However, a positive approach and concerted actions, must be maintained, coupled with the encouragement of greater transparency, surveillance, detection, prosecution and eradication of corrupt norms, at all levels. The work of anti-corruption bodies requires enhanced governmental support, manpower and financial underpinning. This must be married to important associate long term strategies, such as employment creation, increase in public employee wages, reduction in poverty, eradication of drug trafficking, development of robust judicial systems and most crucially the regeneration of trust amongst the populous.

Postscript

Corruption persists in highly corrupt countries because it is not only difficult to monitor and therefore, prosecute, but also, when it is systematically pervasive, people may lack the incentives or initiative, to instigate counter measures. When considering corruption as a deep seated problem, it is perhaps important to examine two sets of dynamics which may be at interplay amongst those contemplating corruptive behaviour. Decisions to indulge in corruption are based on personal choice, coercion or group dynamics and at the same time, surveillance, monitoring, transparency and systems of prosecution, are all variables which may influence an individual’s calculations of whether to engage in corruption.

Anti-corruption activities need to be tailored to context and a thorough understanding of the dynamics of contextual factors is required. For example, greater transparency could be resisted by those in power for fear of exposure of wider pervasive practices.

Individual character, honesty and trust are vitally important, when considering suitability for key appointments. Individuals who are prepared to work within acceptable norms within culture, society, business, legal systems and government Clean up campaigns are only successful when there is a moral consensus behind them.

Measures which will undoubtedly assist in reducing corruption, should be actively engendered. Such measures include inclusiveness, increased dialogue between all stakeholders and continuing review and amendment of anti-corruption plans. Scrutiny should address roles, responsibilities, resourcing and effectiveness. Intractable problems such as corruption cannot always be eliminated completely but with commitment, dedication and resilience, it should be possible over time to contain the problem within acceptable limits.

References

BBC . (2011). Afghan row over failed bank threatens salaries. Available: http//www.bbc.co.uk/newa/world-south-east-asia-13847292). Last accessed 14th February 2015.

Lockheart, C. (2014). Building Security and Justice in Post Conflict Environmen. : A Reader.Proceedings of 2014 Security, Conflict and International Development (SCID) Symposium.. 1 (14), 4-8.

Serious Fraud Office . (2015). Bribery Corruption. Available: http://www.sfo.gov.uk>bribery & corruption. Last accessed 22nd March 2015.

Transparency International. (2014). Transparency International global coalition against corruption. 2014).. Available: http://cpi.trancparency.org/cpi2013/results/). Last accessed 14th February 2015.

UNODC. (2012). Afghanistan: Recent Patterns and Trends. Available: http://anti-corruption.gov.af/en/page/1783/8477.2015). In. Last accessed 15th February 2015.

Prospects for Peace in Colombia: Inequalities, Denial and the Undeserving Poor

In the blog post linked at the end of this paragraph, Nathan Tuffin, Portfolio Manager with the Languages, Literature & International Engagement Section of AHRC talks about the experiences at the Post-Conflict Research Workshop, held in Bogota and Medellin, Colombia last month – Source: A Blog from Colombia – An AHRC perspective.

UK-Colombia Post-Conflict Research Workshop

I attended the Post-Conflict Research Workshop organised jointly by the Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Government of Colombia, held last month in Colombia. During the Workshop the dynamics of the conflict and the prospective peacebuilding challenges were considered, and priorities were identified in terms of areas where academic researchers can help contribute to addressing these challenges. I thought the blog post linked to above might be of interest to some of you – I will share the identified priorities and outcomes once they are formalised. I also wanted to share some further thoughts on my visit to Colombia, in the hope that some of you will comment (which I would find very helpful) or write short blog posts on your views of a conflict-affected environment you work in, have visited, or have read about.

First Impressions of Colombia – Challenges, Complexity and Capacity

This Workshop and my short visit to Colombia left me with an impression of the enormity of the challenges facing a country that has seen 50 years of conflict. It is also a highly complex conflict, not least in terms of how it has changed over time; the hundreds of thousands of victims; the many different actors involved, their activities and alliances which also fluctuate over time; and the way in which the conflict affects different geographic areas and socio-economic groups differently. Indeed, it seems the only constant factor in the conflict has been that the poor and the marginalised have disproportionately suffered – even in places less afflicted by the conflict – as it often is in conflicts worldwide.

IMG_4916Aside from the enormity of the challenge, I was also struck by the capacity that exists within Colombia to address these challenges. Aside from the institutions (often afflicted by corruption) and the legislative framework (comprehensive but not always adhered to), the strength of civil society was what impressed me the most: the number of human rights defenders, lawyers, academics, journalists, as well as indigenous, Afro-Colombian, peasant farmer and other community leaders – and the quality of their work, their commitment to peace and their courage. While this capacity exists, many are threatened and have been killed by guerrilla and paramilitary groups, especially if their focus of attention is on the activities of powerful or clandestine groups. Colombia has one of the worst records of assassinations of human rights defenders: last year, over 54 human rights defenders were killed (The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2016), which constitutes about a third of all deaths of human rights defenders that year across the world (Front Line Defenders, 2016).

False Positives

I was also left with two other lasting impressions; lasting because what I saw and heard I found hard to make sense of. Firstly, the issue of ‘false positives’: this concerns the routine execution of civilians (generally poor and marginalised males, including homeless people, disabled people, farmers, children) by the Army between 2002 and 2008, who were subsequently dressed up to look like guerrilla fighters. This was in response to pressure on the Army to show more combat kills and further to calls for the success of the Army in the fight against FARC and ELN to be judged in terms of blood shed or rather number of guerrillas killed. While the FARC and ELN were trained guerrilla fighters and, in some cases, in cahoots with the state armed forces, it was often more expedient to kill poor people and then dress them up as FARC or ELN soldiers. People were lured away to remote areas with the promise of jobs and then killed, dressed as guerrilla fighters with weapon placed in hands, and photographed. Evidence could no longer be ignored when photos showed a young disabled man who had been killed who had recently been reported missing in a city far away; he was clearly unable to properly hold let alone shoot a gun (and he, along with most of the other false positives, had never had any association with guerrilla groups). Other photos showed shoes on the wrong feet and uniforms without bullet holes over bodies that had been shot. Over 3,000 people were killed and evidence shows that engagement in extrajudicial killings was systematic and widespread throughout the Army (information from interviews – see also Human Rights Watch, 2015, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (CAJAR), 2012).

Denial

Secondly, in parts of Colombia it is easy to overlook the fact that a conflict is on-going, and in parts of Bogota it is even easy to imagine there is no insecurity, violence or hardship. This is part psycho-social, part geo-political and part communications strategy employed by the Government. In Zona Rosa (Bogota’s Pink Zone) there are many malls, designer shops and restaurants. Only a kilometre or so away are slums and large, highly impoverished communities. It is from these communities that many men were taken away and killed and presented as fallen guerrilla fighters by the state armed forces. People living and working in Zona Rosa and similar privileged areas are more likely to believe Government rhetoric and media reportage of terrorists rather than guerrilla fighters, and the undeserving rather than victimised poor, precisely because they see little evidence of insecurity, injustice or conflict. They are less inclined to be supportive of the peace process, believing it constitutes negotiating with terrorists. They might also be assumed to be less supportive of an eventual peace process, if the voices of victims are to be heard, if history is to be examined and memorialised, and if financial support in the form of increased taxes is to be sought to pay for the necessary peacebuilding programmes (land restitution, transitional justice, DDR etc.).

Psychologically and socio-politically, it is very difficult to move beyond oppression, victimisation and atrocity without an acceptance that is has occurred and was wrong. In his outstanding book, Stanley Cohen (2001) talks about ‘states of denial’, which is when people, governments and societies know about atrocities but ignore them. To assume responsibility for not taking action, or taking a stand when it could have been taken, is very difficult at the individual level: narratives and stories are constructed, histories re-written, and blame reassigned, to avoid dealing with the pain or discomfort. In Colombia it was clear there was general awareness of the massive socio-economic inequalities that existed. I was also told that many members of the Army killed poor people not because they themselves were threatened if they did not but because they would be rewarded with a bonus, extra leave days or promotion. There was no denial of what was happening, and seemingly no insurmountable pressure to commit such atrocities; but there was a reconstruction of the poor as undeserving, as lesser, as not ‘the good ones’ (as I was told was the phrase used in Colombia) and thus seemingly dispensable and irrelevant.

Prospects for Peace

Coupled with the stranglehold of organised crime on Colombian society, it is hard to envisage effective peacebuilding where there are such inequalities and injustices and little evidence that there is the political will to address these – no matter whether an Accord can grapple with the challenges of land ownership and restitution, DDR and ‘concentration zones’, and bottom-up peacebuilding (paz territorial).

When there is such inequality and such apparent disregard of the suffering of the poor and marginalised, it is hard to envisage how there can be a stable platform upon which successful peacebuilding can occur. Of fundamental importance to successful peacebuilding is the need to address structural inequalities if the dynamics which lead to conflict, violence and insecurity are to be changed: those dynamics which create the conditions for further victimisation and which also compound grievances. If there is a reluctance to acknowledge the injustice of massive disparities in wealth and opportunity, to witness the crimes suffered by the poor and dispossessed, and to acknowledge personal responsibility in contributing to a better society for everyone, there is little hope for building a more peaceful society. There can be no peace, if large sections of the population live without security, justice and opportunity. Moreover, if some, privileged groups do not acknowledge that there is a conflict (but only see terrorists and criminals and the undeserving poor) it is hard to envisage that there will be little commitment to the means necessary to resolve the conflict and build peace. To resolve conflict and build peace it is first necessary, of course, to accept that there has been a conflict – and from there begin to unpick the causes of that conflict.

Best wishes, Eleanor

References:

Front Line Defenders (2016) Annual Report 2016, Dublin: Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, available at https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/resource-publication/2016-annual-report.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2015) On Their Watch: Evidence of Senior Army Officers’ Responsibility for False Positive Killings in Colombia, New York: HRW, available at https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/06/24/their-watch/evidence-senior-army-officers-responsibility-false-positive-killings.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) (2016) ‘IACHR Condemns Killings and Threats Directed against Human Rights Defenders in Colombia’, Press Release, 25 February 2015, available at http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2016/021.asp.

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (CAJAR) (2012) Colombia: The War is Measured in Litres of Blood, FIDH and CAJAR, available at https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/rapp_colombie__juin_2012_anglais_def.pdf.

NATIONAL SECURITY IN COTE D’IVOIRE: 2 LAWS PASSED!

January 13th, 2016, President Ouattara of Cote D Ivoire, promulgated two major laws on National Security. On one hand the Law N°2016-09 related to the Programming of Internal Security Forces for the years 2016-2020 and on the other hand the Law N°2016-10, related to Military Programming for the years 2016-2020. Besides the legal dimension of these laws, we praise their existence for security systems in Ivory Coast. Indeed, these two laws were expected for several decades without being a priority for the successive governments until recently, in 2012. How is it possible that for many years, governments could not find any coherence between National Security functioning and its organization? Several reasons seem to have delayed the formulation of these laws, in particular the years of military crises which affected the country.

It is at the end of the political crisis of 2011, that security systems in Ivory Coast knew a period of significant reforms, materialized by the Security Sector Reform (SSR). This reform allowed between 2011 and 2015, to formulate the major texts of National Security among which, the Strategy for National Security and the SSR Strategy. Defence and Internal Security merged to make only one through National Security concept. The measures retained within the framework of the SSR program, were scheduled in their execution over several years by being classified as short, medium and long-term reforms. All the short-term reforms have been implemented, they included in particular the formulation of texts related to National Security.

Furthermore, what makes those two laws decisive, is the fact that they allow to rationalize the implementation of the National Security Policy. Indeed, these laws register the investments and the diverse expenses for security over 04 years in a coherence and an unprecedented programming. The real challenge thus becomes their effective implementation. From a point of view of National Security governance, these laws translate and imply a level of transparency, accountability and integrity on behalf of the security and defence institutions. Their promulgation makes them open to the public, for consultation and especially allows the National Assembly, to play completely its role of democratic scrutiny and control of those institutions.

Apparently, passing a law on a precise subject does not imply its effective consideration. It is for that reason, that it seems more than ever essential that both ministries (Defence and Security) in charge of the implementation of the promulgated laws, are equipped with follow-up and evaluation mechanisms. Moreover, the National Assembly through its specialized commissions will be responsible for monitoring the implementation of those two laws.

As a consequence, big challenges await the institutions concerned by these two laws, we focus on the following: 1/ the translation of both laws in specific implementation directives or sectorial Action plans at the operational level; 2/ the introduction of reframing, follow-up and evaluation mechanisms  for the effective implementation of both laws ; 3/ the adherence by all National Security actors to the execution of those two laws; 4/ the consideration of a set of measures to facilitate the cut in staff, the reorganization of the structures and the operational capacity building of security forces; 5/ the annual revision of the aforementioned laws by the National Assembly; 6/ the adaptability of the laws facing diffuse and evolving threats; 7/ a significant national effort to mobilize the resources necessary for the implementation of the two laws; 8/ the progressive empowerment of National Security forces through the creation of a national civilian-Defence Industry for the production of goods both for military and civilian use; 9/ the effective accountability of the security institutions through regular reports made available to the National Assembly as for the good execution of the measures contained in the laws and a publication of the annual results ; 10/ the preservation of a budgetary credibility!

By JF CURTIS

 

Places in Conflict & at Peace

Thanks Maren, for sharing this excellent resource (re-blogged below – I’m re-blogging rather than commenting so I can add a few images to give example to my otherwise broad-brushed, unsubstantiated statements below!). I think this resource is an invaluable tool for reflecting upon the way in which we analyse armed conflict as well as the assumptions many of us (as researchers, policy makers and practitioners) have when it comes to armed conflict (being elsewhere, in places labelled fragile, at risk or developing). As you say, it also provides a useful analytical tool for analysing the links between armed violence, organised crime and street gang insurgencies, as well as the impact of globalisation and socio-economic inequalities on conflict and security.

Last week I returned from a trip to the US (Atlanta) and Colombia (Bogota and Medellin). I had only been to the US a few times fleetingly and never visited Colombia before now. The specific places I visited are unique and also not representative of the wider respective countries. However, what particularly struck me was that both demonstrated evidence of massive socio-economic inequalities, high levels of poverty, and anger among some groups towards their respective governments. I was most shocked (though unsurprised) at the extent and nature of the human rights violations and violence against civilians in Colombia, high levels of corruption and collusion between ostensibly opposing groups (government, paramilitary, guerrilla), and the disregard among many of the privileged for the suffering of the marginalised and impoverished (to the extent that you could hardly imagine a conflict was going on in some parts of Bogota).

IMG_4929However, I was more shocked at the tension and aggression which seemed to seep into the corners of everyday life in Atlanta. Here massive billboards portrayed the good life (buy a coke and your life will be meaningful) while people slept on the streets below; there was an onslaught of noise and people who demanded you say how wonderful your day was (OK so I’m a grumpy Brit!); Trump and his vitriol was blaring out from TVs which were everywhere (OK the hotel I was staying in happened to be in the same building as CNN!); people told me how fed up they were with politics and foreigners and women not sticking by their unfaithful men; signs told me I’d have to leave my gun at home if I wanted to get on a plane (which to me is strange in a country not at war, at least on its own soil); and the overwhelming majority of the thousands of participants at the Convention I was attending were white, which smacked of neo-colonialism given the theme was peace, while the majority of people working in the hotels and sleeping on the streets were black. Perhaps I simply didn’t get enough sleep, but I kept seeing messages  about about pride and equity, which took on a disturbingly ironic tone in this context (for contrast the third image is from the National Centre for Civil and Human Rights which was outstanding, moving and highly informative – located in the centre of the business district next to the Coca Cola Museum, which appeared to be significantly more popular among tourists – no comment!).

I left the US and Colombia reflecting a bit deeper on our assumptions about places in conflict and places at so-called peace; assumptions about the way in which violence permeates most if not all societies and disproportionately affects the marginalised; and assumptions about the engagement of governments in so-called peaceful states in the dynamics of exclusion, violence and indeed conflict.

So, in short, I think we have a lot to learn about conflict by looking at the machinations of societies where there is peace. Conversely, we also have a lot to learn about peace by looking at the efforts many civilians make to protect themselves and their families, promote peace, and create peaceful communities, in places at war (which I hope to write about soon).

Best wishes, Eleanor

Original post by Maren Moon:

The link below  directs readers to a recent article from the  Small Wars Journal. 

While the subject matter falls outside the discipline of post-conflict studies, it nevertheless provides an opportunity for widening understanding on conflict prevention as it intersects with organised crime,  street gang insurgency, transnational threats, proxy actors, and the infiltration and undermining of law enforcement, military, and criminal justice systems. The article also provides a window for examining the dynamics of globalisation and the New Wars paradigm as they potentially threaten  ‘first world’ realities.

America’s Unacknowledged Insurgency: Addressing Street Gangs as Threats to National Security

The refugee camp that became a city

An interesting article. Some SCID students have worked here and also written their MSc dissertation on Dadaab, and it would be very interesting to read their views…

dadaab.PNG

When Halima Abdi fled the civil war in Somalia with her young daughter, she hoped her stay across the border in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp would be short-lived.

Source: The refugee camp that became a city