Read JSRP Research Director Alex de Waal’s powerful new piece in the Boston Review here.
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Nov 12 2014
Read JSRP Research Director Alex de Waal’s powerful new piece in the Boston Review here.
Nov 10 2014
By Rachel Ibreck
‘There is no law in South Sudan’, a resident of the town of Nimule, Eastern Equatoria, explained: ‘You see the police cell there is for those who are very poor. You will never see a rich person in that prison for the rest of your life. Trust me, this is true.’ This elder echoed views expressed by many other participants in research for the Justice and Security Research Programme in Nimule that ‘some people are above the law’, protected by their economic status, political allegiance or ethnic identity. In many instances, when crimes are reported or ‘referred up’ from the customary courts, ‘no action is taken’. There are also practical obstacles, including the financial costs: a victim of a crime may need to pay to open the case, to fund transport for police to make the arrest, or even to provide food for the accused once in prison. And there is fear of retribution, especially if the perpetrator is associated with the security forces or is politically influential. People spoke of occasions when they, or a member of their community, endured further suffering on the floor of a police cell or a beating in the barracks following a complaint. If you ask ordinary citizens about their experiences of the justice system in Nimule, you will hear of cases that never reached the courts, illegal detentions, intimidation, torture and violence. Continue reading
Nov 10 2014
Read the new report by Jeroen Cuvelier, Steven Van Bockstael, Koen Vlassenroot and Claude Iguma, ‘Analyzing the Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on Congolese Livelihoods’, on the SSRC website.
The report presents a detailed study of how the Dodd-Frank Act in particular has affected several mining communities in eastern Congo, and the extent to which various conflict minerals initiatives have been implemented on the ground.
Nov 5 2014
By Alex de Waal
International peacekeeping operations are deployed to complicated and troubled places. Often, reliable information is scarce, rumors and poorly-founded allegations are common, and interpretation of events is highly politicized. Recent controversies around what is going on in Darfur illuminate the need for much better data.
A former UN official, Aicha Elbasri, has made much-publicized allegations that the UN-African Union hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) covered up evidence of attacks by the Government of Sudan. The magazine Foreign Policy took up the issue. The UN investigated sixteen incidents of alleged cover-up, and last week published a summary of its findings. The summary did not support Elbasri’s claims, finding only “a tendency to under-report unless absolutely certain of the facts,” but the full report has not been released. Elbasri has accused the UN of a “cover-up of a cover-up.”
Press coverage of this controversy has not yet included a basic point: peacekeeping operations collect vast amounts of data, and have the capacity to collect more, but rarely analyze those data in a rigorous manner. This is a missed opportunity. Continue reading
Oct 31 2014
Read the new article by Tim Allen and Kyla Reid, ‘Justice at the Margins: Witches, Poisoners, and Social Accountability in Northern Uganda’, in Medical Anthropology here.
Abstract: Recent responses to people alleged to be ‘witches’ or ‘poisoners’ among the Madi of northern Uganda are compared with those of the 1980s. The extreme violence of past incidents is set in the context of contemporary upheavals and, in effect, encouragement from Catholic and governmental attitudes and initiatives. Mob justice has subsequently become less common. From 2006, a democratic system for dealing with suspects was introduced, whereby those receiving the highest number of votes are expelled from the neighborhood or punished in other ways. These developments are assessed with reference to trends in supporting ‘traditional’ approaches to social accountability and social healing as alternatives to more conventional measures. Caution is required. Locally acceptable hybrid systems may emerge, but when things turn nasty, it is usually the weak and vulnerable that suffer.
Sep 15 2014
By Erwin van Veen
Erwin van Veen is a senior research fellow in the Conflict Research Unit at Clingendael. This guest post builds on the author’s longer policy brief: ‘Securing its success, justifying its relevance: Mapping a way forward for Security Sector Reform.’ Follow Erwin on Twitter @ErwinVeen
The recent incidents in Ferguson, US, have highlighted two similarities in the provision of security across the world. First, people often don’t get the security they want. Although the facts have not yet been fully established, the perception out in Ferguson is of a heavy-handed, brutal police response to a minor offence – possibly with racial bias. Second, external actors, in this case the US ministries of defense and justice that provide American police with heavy weaponry at attractive prices, often influence the type of security people get without having sufficiently thought through the consequences of their actions.
If the provision of security faces such issues in the US, it is safe to multiply them manifold in fragile environments, which are typically characterized by an ever-present threat of violence and poor levels of accountability and trust, as well as high levels of poverty. Here, the uniformed agents of the state are often a threat instead of a provider of security. Because insecurity hampers development and can create significant negative spill-over effects, richer states (such as the UK in Sierra Leone) and international organizations (such as the United Nations in Timor-Leste) have invested heavily in improving the provision of security in fragile environments. This has happened in large part on the basis of the notion of Security Sector Reform (SSR), which focuses on the joint and parallel improvement of both the effectiveness of security provision and the quality of its governance where its under-supply forms a barrier to broader development. Generally, such investments have generated poor results in that they have only marginally improved the security of those living under such conditions. In fact, three aspects of the policy and practice of SSR have often made external actors complicit in ensuring that people don’t get the security they want. Continue reading
Aug 18 2014
The Theory of Change approach is becoming a pervasive part of development practice: as an artefact, as a management tool, and increasingly as a common discourse which implementers use to explain and explore their interventions. My new JSRP paper, ‘Theories of Change in international development: communication, learning or accountability?’ seeks to address a critical gap in understanding the actual effects of using a Theory of Change approach in international development work and considers how the approach may be better understood, if its aim is to improve development policy and practice. It does so through an analysis of the emerging findings of a collaboration between the JSRP and The Asia Foundation. Six key findings have emerged from this research:
Many have welcomed the introduction of a Theory of Change approach, specifically because it provides space for reflection on their assumptions and the context in which they work, particularly in comparison to logframes. Such attempts to situate programmes in larger ecosystems of social change should be applauded, not dismissed. Yet a Theory of Change approach can also create an illusion of serious reflection by being a superficial process of critical thought, where people who engage with the theories (donors as well as implementers) do not actually reflect sufficiently on how power dynamics change in practice and how local people see change happen. Continue reading
Jul 30 2014
In a new article published in African Affairs, Alex de Waal argues that South Sudan obtained independence in July 2011 as a kleptocracy – a militarized, corrupt neo-patrimonial system of governance. By the time of independence, the South Sudanese ‘political marketplace’ was so expensive that the country’s comparatively copious revenue was consumed by the military-political patronage system, with almost nothing left for public services, development or institution building. The efforts of national technocrats and foreign donors produced bubbles of institutional integrity but the system as a whole was entirely resistant to reform. The January 2012 shutdown of oil production bankrupted the system. Even an experienced and talented political business manager would have struggled, and President Salva Kiir did not display the required skills. No sooner had shots been fired than the compact holding the SPLA together fell apart and civil war ensued. Drawing upon long-term observation of elite politics in South Sudan, this article explains both the roots of kleptocratic government and its dire consequences.
Jul 25 2014
By Tom Kirk and Andy Sumner
This piece originally appeared on the Global Policy blog and is drawn from the final chapter of the Global Policy e-book ‘The Donors’ Dilemma: emergence, convergence and the future of aid’ by Andy Sumner and Tom Kirk (eds). Tom Kirk is a researcher with the JSRP with a particular interest in issues of security and public authority. Andy Sumner is Co-Director of the International Development Institute at King’s College London. Join the debate on Twitter at #GPfuture of aid.
The challenge laid down to contributors to Global Policy’s first e-book began, in the editor’s introduction, with an optimistic observation that the number of aid dependent countries is falling and that aid, as a portion of recipients’ GDP, may be becoming less and less relevant. Furthermore, it was speculated the potential post-2015 development goal of ending extreme poverty, however defined, could be a reality by 2030 if not before. At the same time, however, it was noted that such trends leave aid donors with a double dilemma: what do donors do if the remaining poor are left in countries in which aid is insignificant compared to GDP, such as India or Indonesia, or in weak states within which the use of aid in meaningful and productive ways is a tough call, such as Afghanistan or DRC.
How did commentators respond? The e-book’s contributors chose to emphasise the context in which these changes are taking place, the cooperative mind-sets required to address issues that transcend borders, and the practices that are already being explored to keep aid, or development cooperation more broadly, relevant in the face of such changes. Nonetheless there was a discernible sense that aid, if it even makes sense to continue to call it ‘aid’, will have to work on two interconnected levels. The first is concerned with global threats that affect everyone regardless of where the risk originates; the second is at the local level within countries that are likely to remain poor for the foreseeable future, such as conflict-affected countries, or those that, despite great advances, face rising inequalities. In what follows we explore the ways in which the distinguished and diverse contributors suggest that aid may be able to work at these levels. Continue reading