Apr 7 2014

Unravelling Public Authority: Paths of Hybrid Governance in Africa

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10 IOB-LSE-JSRP hybrid governance in Africa-page-001The meaning and policy implications of ‘hybrid governance’ were debated in a recent workshop at the London School of Economics, entitled ‘Unravelling Public Authority: Paths of Hybrid Governance in Africa’.  Held on 6-7 December 2013, this workshop involved international collaboration between the Department of International Development and the Institute of Development Policy Management (IOB, University of Antwerp), with significant support and engagement from the IS Academy Human Security and Fragile States (Wageningen University) and the Justice and Security Research Programme (LSE).  The workshop brought together specialists from Europe and Africa to explore the empirical realities of hybrid governance in a range of fragile and more dynamic African contexts, focusing on the factors that shape positive as well as negative paths of hybrid governance in contemporary Africa.

Drawing on current empirical research in a range of fragile and more stable African states, including DR Congo, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Somaliland, South Sudan and Uganda, participants explored what hybrid governance means, how it operates, and what it offers to national officials, development practitioners, and local populations.  Discussions centred around a number of key issues exploring the differential understanding, power dynamics and implications of hybrid governance arrangements in varying national contexts.  The research and debates emerging from the workshop have been examined by Kate Meagher, Tom De Herdt and Kristof Titeca in a research brief that considers how to improve the effectiveness of hybrid governance as an analytical and policy tool.

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Apr 3 2014

(In)security Groups and Governance in Gulu, Uganda

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By Holly Porter & Rebecca Tapscott[1]

Last November, at three in the morning, a man was murdered on the street not far outside Gulu Town. There were tens of witnesses, yet there was no investigation, no prosecution, and no compensation provided to the victim’s family. A common reflection on the event was that the victim “did good to die”.

People recount the story in different ways: one version describes the victim as a notorious and unrepentant drug dealer and crook. On the night he was finally caught, a mob of frustrated neighbours banded together and beat him with a machete, resulting in his unintentional, if not surprising, death. Another version explains that the murdered man was a petty thief and marijuana smoker who made enemies with a community leader. That night, he either burnt the kitchen of the leader or was framed for arson.  The more powerful man responded immediately, taking the law into his own hands and brutally murdering the victim in public, thereby asserting authority over the jurisdiction.

Such stories of people taking justice “into their own hands” are common in northern Uganda. This particular instance happened just outside Holly’s house. In the past two weeks, as we have looked closer at local responses to community insecurity, people have recounted other recent events of citizen-driven violence. Among these stories, there is wide variation in the victims’ personal details (professionals to lay-people, men and women, adults and youth) and originating crime (theft, prostitution, over-drinking or drug abuse, violating curfew, etc.). Some can be categorized as “mob justice” or “mob violence”— they share a collective, spontaneous, and potentially fatal, beating. Continue reading

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Feb 13 2014

Practice Without Evidence: interrogating conflict resolution approaches and assumptions

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By Tatiana Carayannis, Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic, Nathaniel Olin, Anouk Rigterink and Mareike Schomerus

JSRP-Paper-11-page-001What is the evidence that existing approaches to the resolution of violent conflict have achieved their intended effects to improve the lives of conflict-affected populations? Violent conflict is one of the greatest challenges to development. Two decades of concentrated interventions to mediate, end, or transform violent conflict have generated heated debates and produced a burgeoning field of new scholarship as well as new tools on conflict resolution. Yet, communities worldwide continue to experience conflict every day. It is often unclear whether they experience attempts to resolve violent conflict as successful, or as improving their lives.

Our new JSRP Paper, ‘Practice Without Evidence: interrogating conflict resolution approaches and assumptions’, seeks to highlight the experiences of people at the receiving end of practices of conflict resolution, especially international activities. It reviews the evidence base that undergirds contemporary approaches to the resolution of violent conflict in an effort to improve the lives of conflict-affected populations. Through a systematic literature review, the paper explores academic work as well as grey literature that focus on the experiences of the ‘end-users’ of conflict resolution efforts.

Two overarching themes emerge from the literature surveyed. The first is the overwhelming yet under-addressed need to manage conflict complexity, including trans-national dynamics and the proliferation of non-state actors in conflict. The second theme is the omnipresence of normative concepts of conflict resolution, which describe how conflict resolution ought to work based on the liberal principles underpinning it, rather than the actual impact it has.

Despite notable advances that academic literature has made in certain areas of the conflict resolution field, the empirical knowledge base supporting the scholarship has overall been insufficiently robust. In particular, based on the findings from the literature reviewed, there is a need to pursue further research into, and strengthen the evidence base of three inter-related topics which are under-theorised, poorly-understood, or both. Namely: the changing nature of conflict and its diverse origins and manifestations; the conflict networks that emerge and develop through bargaining in the political marketplace; the resulting (and often hybrid) governance and authority structures.

Key findings:

Conceptualisations of governance

Contemporary conflict resolution frameworks revolve around the triangulation of governance, democracy and market-building as a way to stabilise conflict-affected societies.  Most of the works on conflict resolution we surveyed do not interrogate what seem to be pre-defined notions of key governance and post-conflict reconstruction ‘outputs’ – for example, security, political stability, economic recovery, and more generally ‘good governance’ and the implied benchmarks for achieving these outputs (Luckham and Kirk 2012). Everyday concerns and priorities of diverse local populations seem to be largely absent from these notions. Similar observations apply to other key concepts within post-war reconstruction frameworks, such as civil society and justice (which are discussed further in the next sections). In fact, the meaning of such concepts is plausibly shaped by the idiosyncrasies of local context. Continue reading

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Feb 4 2014

Women’s Experiences of Local Justice: Community Mediation in Sri Lanka

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By Ramani Jayasundere and Craig Valters

JSRP.10.JayasundereValters.pdf-page-001‘Informal’ justice is increasingly on the international development agenda (for example see here and here), based on the recognition that in many parts of the world, ‘formal’ justice systems are far from the first port of call for citizens with a grievance or dispute. It is estimated that as many as 80-90 per cent of disputes in the global South get dealt with by informal providers rather than state-led systems. Yet often assumptions are made about commonalities across any so-called informal system, for example in terms of the kind of justice they provide and the way in which they treat poor or marginalised groups. In reality, of course, ‘informal’ justice (others may say traditional, customary, non-state, hybrid or alternative justice as well) covers a huge range of systems – often it seems implied to mean ‘not the courts’ – each of which may have context-specific differences in how they function.

In our new study, we aim to give some nuance to these debates by looking in detail at the mediation boards in Sri Lanka and their treatment of women. Mediation boards are a dispute resolution system established by the State and conducted by local citizens. There are currently 324 mediation boards and over 7000 mediators. This is not a minor system in Sri Lanka’s context, particularly given the relative inaccessibility of Sri Lanka’s court system; court cases in Sri Lanka can take many years and are often very expensive, considerably limiting access to the courts, especially for poor or socially excluded groups. Continue reading

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Jan 23 2014

Predictable Causes and Prospects of the Current Political Crisis in South Sudan

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By Samson Wassara

Flag of South SudanThe political crisis of 15 December 2013 is the tip of an iceberg that remains to be dealt with in the immediate future or over a relatively longer period of time. The causes of the crisis are rooted in historical legacies of the long civil war that seemed to have ended with the signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in January 2005. However, the cosmetic reconciliation between the SPLM/A leading to the signing of the CPA did not heal the wounds of the 1991 rift. Origins but not causes of the current crisis can be traced back to the event. But causes of the current crisis are associated with the past. What is significant is the indifference of third parties, both national and international, which contributed to the outbreak of untold violence in Juba that is spreading rapidly in the Greater Upper Nile region.

The Issue

In the first place, the failure of institutionalization of the political system and disregard for the rules of the game are the immediate foundational causes of the crisis. The Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) was established on a weak foundation. The establishment of institutions was based on ethnic aggregation and personality cults. The political system entrenched institutionalized mistrust where political leaders had more faith in ethnic protégées than in national institutions enshrined in the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (TCRSS). Established institutions were highly politicized without taking due note of rules and regulations governing them. Conversely, where there were such rules and regulations they were relegated to the margins of the modus operandi. These structures were inherited by the government of South Sudan at independence on 9 July 2011. Further, little attention was paid to national reconciliation. Political leaders missed the opportunity to promote post-conflict peace building among people and institutions after the unity of South Sudan demonstrated during the Referendum vote of January 2011. Continue reading

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Jan 23 2014

Making the Evidence Agenda in Development More Plausible

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By Mareike Schomerus

“What is the evidence?”

Clues 0068This must be the most common question in development programming and policy these days. Donors are pressing practitioners to present evidence that their programming approaches are working – themselves under pressure to show measurable results and the evidence for those. At the same time, while the question about evidence is commonplace, there is no agreement on what such evidence actually looks like. This is where the gaze of policymakers and practitioners is increasingly turning toward researchers to provide all the answers.

Yet this simple question is often the reason why the connection between research, policy, and practice snaps because researchers are most likely to answer “it depends.” When the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Justice and Security Research Programme (JSRP) conducted a substantial amount of systematic evidence reviews, we sought for a clearer answer. [Read about The Asia Foundation's research collaboration with JSRP from the Foundation's Matthew Arnold.] We threw ourselves into a bewildering (at least for social scientists) process of searching for evidence on conflict resolution, natural resources, security, justice, media, and gender policies. This resulted in ultimately a very enlightening process of database searches with strict keyword rules, inclusion criteria, and evidence grading. In the process, we produced a range of systematic evidence reviews but also learned some broader lessons about what is needed for researchers to become more intelligent providers of practice-oriented research and practitioners to become more intelligent consumers of research.

Through our research, we discovered that what is needed is a hands-on practical framing of evidence. My colleague and fellow LSE researcher, Anouk Rigterink, and I call it “The Three P’s.” Continue reading

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Jan 22 2014

Research Effectiveness: The Case of the Mindanao Conflict

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By Steven Rood

1-SteveRoodResearch is most useful for development practitioners when it is embedded in the entire endeavor, directing and directed by actions and reflections throughout implementation, rather than being something done initially to design a project and at the end to evaluate it.

The root of The Asia Foundation’s conflict management initiatives in the Philippines was a decision in 2001 to undertake a probability sample survey of households in Mindanao. A strategic planning session had suggested that beyond work on governance and economic reform, we needed to focus on Mindanao conflicts since unrest in the country’s south was holding back nationwide development by deterring investment and destroying livelihoods. Continue reading

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Jan 14 2014

The Boundaries of Evidence in Conflict Management and Peacebuilding

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By Jeroen Adam

ContestedCornersOfAsia.pdf-previewIn The Asia Foundation’s recent report, “Subnational Conflict and International Development Assistance,” the authors argue that a sustainable solution to the many subnational conflicts plaguing different countries in Asia will ultimately depend on a true political transformation.

As explained by the authors, subnational conflicts are rooted in entrenched horizontal inequalities as minority ethnic populations are systematically excluded from access to political power. It is this dynamic which then feeds into the development of armed movements struggling for the rights of these minority groups. Therefore, it is argued, adjusting these historically grown power imbalances should be at the core of any sustainable solution to these conflicts. Based on my own research experience in what is a textbook example of a subnational conflict, namely the decades long armed struggle by the Muslim minority population on the island of Mindanao, the Philippines, I can only endorse this argument. Continue reading

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Jan 13 2014

Getting Academics and Aid Workers to Work Together

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By Matthew B. Arnold

TAFlogoAid workers and academics would seem natural collaborators. Development studies courses are common and it is routine to find academics who oscillate between the academy and the field as aid workers. In turn, the aid world often calls upon academics to provide expert advice and looks to their literature for guidance. Overall, though, the relationship is in ways distant; there exist natural tensions between those implementing on the ground and those who observe, assess, and comment.

Finding opportunities to cooperate more extensively, and naturally, is not easy, but it is possible. The Asia Foundation began a multi-year collaboration in 2012 with the London School of Economics’ Justice and Security Research Program (JSRP) to look into the “theories of change” the Foundation uses to underpin its justice and security programs. A bit of aid-speak jargon, theories of change are most simply understood as the explicit rationales guiding aid programming. They are proving themselves as natural mediums for academics and aid practitioners to engage with each other, intellectually but in a practical manner. On the one hand they allow practitioners to directly tie research to their actual programs on the ground. On the other, they allow academics to look at the relative causality of aid programs in relation to wider social change. Continue reading

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Dec 11 2013

Institutional Vacuum, Violence and the State: The Case of Swat, Pakistan

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Swat 2From 2007 until 2009 the district of Swat in Pakistan’s Khyber Paktunkhwa province was under the control of an armed group aligned with the Pakistani Taliban.  Led by the charismatic and tech-savvy Mullah Fazlullah, the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e- Mohammadi’s violent campaign against local elites and state representatives caught the world’s attention. Many were surprised that the militants, at least initially, enjoyed some measure of legitimacy in a district on Islamabad’s doorstep. Yet as the group gained notoriety and its brand of governance became increasingly brutal the mood in Swat changed. This gave the Pakistani army the opportunity it needed to drive the militants out of Swat in 2009. Today the army remains in de facto control of the district and families that fled are gradually returning to resume their lives.

Within Pakistan and further afield debates continue as to what caused the violence and how Swat should be rebuilt. As explained by Asad Sayeed from the Collective for Social Science Research, Karachi, in a recent JSRP seminar chaired by LSE’s Stuart Gordon, many of these debates centre on issues of local legitimacy, state-society relations and access to basic services. In particular, there is disagreement as to whether emphasis should be given to a hypothesised institutional void caused by Swat’s unique geographic and regulatory position within Pakistan, a class war between the locally disenfranchised and landed elite, interference from elements fleeing the conflict in Afghanistan, or some combination of the three. As discussed, these debates shape ongoing responses to the conflict, both domestically and by international donors. Indeed, in many ways, understanding Swat’s descent into violence remains a vital task for those wishing to secure its future.

To find out more please download the slides from Asad Sayeed’s JSRP seminar.

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