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Plains of South Sudan

Research Questions
Theory of Change research


The Justice and Security Research Programme (JSRP) is undertaking research on justice and security in some of the world’s most difficult places – poor, badly-governed, politically-fragile and conflict-affected environments. Millions of people live in these circumstances, often under a mix of state and non-state, armed and civilian, and benign and predatory authority structure.

The four JSRP research questions seek to analyse the hybrid nature of end-users’ experiences of justice and security and to examine the impact of related development policies and programmes.

This research is intended to provide a stronger evidence base for future development programming and to contribute to more effective and sustainable policies on the provision of justice and security in some of the world’s more difficult places.

Research Questions

1. How do public authority and the governance of justice and security serve the end-user?

The JSRP’s first focus is on understanding how existing governance of justice and security serves the end-user and how those living in circumstances of conflict, injustice and insecurity relate to public authority.  In examining how existing practices ‘serve the end-user’ we do not imply that end-users are passive, or that they always have a positive experience.

2. How is the end-user experience of justice and security affected by dynamics of social exclusion?

A second focus of JSRP research will be on the extent to which access to justice and security is affected by social exclusion, in particular by gender relations.  Research will examine how those who are excluded from structures of public authority and governance experience justice and security themselves and what strategies they adopt to create new structures.

3. What effect have existing justice and security policies and programmes had on the end-user?

The research also take as a priority the need to examine the role played by donor policies and programmes in end-users’ experience of justice and security.   The JSRP will seek to understand how policies and programmes formulated and implemented by local, national and international actors impact on end-users in situations of conflict or fragility.

4. How could policies and programmes better contribute to improved and sustainable access to justice and security for the end-user?

Finally, by focusing on how policymakers’ current understandings of justice and security  contribute to the improvement, or deterioration, of local realities the research aims to investigate what elements need to be in place in order to create sustainable programmes and improved access to justice and security for some of the world’s poorest people.

Theory of Change

As a contribution to understanding how justice and security programming might better serve the end-user, the JSRP has entered into a collaboration with The Asia Foundation to undertake a two-year project examining the use of Theory of Change approaches in development practice.

To date, there has been neither a comprehensive documentation of ideas about Theory of Change approaches, not a constructive review of the extent to which the various Theories of Change that are identified to underpin programmes are themselves supported by evidence.

This lack of evidence on pragmatic application of Theory of Change approaches is a particularly serious problem for aid programming in fragile and conflict-affected situations, where complex political dynamics and the extended timeframes of change greatly challenge aid efforts.

Fieldwork for this project commenced in Sri Lanka and Nepal in 2012 and continued in Timor Leste and Philippines in 2013 and Pakistan and Cambodia in 2014.  A full list of papers from this collaboration can be found here.

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London School of Economics