General principles for effective programming

There is consensus that security and justice programming should be people-centred and multi-layered. A people-centred approach is rooted in how citizens (the ‘end users’) experience safety, security and justice (Denney & Domingo, 2013); it is ‘locally owned and based upon democratic norms and human rights principles and the rule of law… [and] a broad assessment of the range of security and justice needs of the people and the state’ (OECD-DAC, 2007b, p. 21). International policies also recommend a multi-layered approach (OECD-DAC, 2007a; 2007b; see also section 2.2), which involves supporting each of the levels of security and justice provision: the state as a provider and regulator, non-state actors as providers, and citizens as recipients to increase their voice and accountability (OECD-DAC, 2007a). There is also recognition that bringing about safe, secure and fair environments for citizens depends on a broad range of factors beyond the criminal justice system, including issues in education, urban development and land tenure (van Veen & Derks, 2012).

The political nature of security and justice assistance

The control of security and justice provision underpins the exercise of political power (OECD-DAC, 2007b). Security and justice providers at different levels of the multi-layered system have differing interests, with competition over power and resources (Albrecht & Kyed, 2010). Addressing deficits in security and justice provision requires local political will, but this may be lacking at local or national levels if it is not in the interest of local actors or there is a contradiction between donor aspirations and local political realities (OECD, 2010; Galletti & Wodzicki, 2011).

Local context analysis

There is a need for local analysis and a valid evidence base that takes account of citizens’ perspectives (including women and vulnerable groups), the roles of different actors, local power dynamics and linkages (Albrecht & Kyed, 2010).

Programmes should be designed with an inception phase that allows donors to develop their understanding of the local owners and political context (OECD-DAC, 2007b). As part of this, gender and conflict analysis are important tools for programme design – they facilitate an understanding of the issues to be addressed and help reduce the risk of doing harm through, for example, upsetting local power balances (DFID, 2012a; OECD-DAC, 2012).

Realism, pragmatism and flexibility

It is important to identify goals that are specific, realistic, achievable and pragmatic, without being overly ambitious (OECD-DAC, 2007b). Discrete and focused activities can be effective if they are considered as part of larger programmes and contribute to wider policy objectives. The focus should be on gradual approaches to reform, establishing linkages where possible, rather than addressing all sectors at once (Schnabel, 2009; de Vries and van Veen, 2010).

SU (2014) calls for assistance to focus on pragmatic ‘best fit’ solutions rooted in political realities rather than ‘perfect’ reforms. According to Hansen and Wiharta (2007), this may involve trade-offs for donors, for example making concessions with regards to locally driven initiatives. This may challenge what donors consider as best practice, but may be more practical and affordable under local conditions.

Balancing long-term goals and short-term results

The World Bank’s World Development Report 2011 notes that it has taken a generation for the 20 fastest reforming countries in the 20th century to achieve basic governance transformations in areas such as corruption, military involvement in politics and the rule of law (WB, 2011). Therefore, to expect change in fragile and conflict-affected states in short time frames is unrealistic.

A number of policy documents argue for balancing long-term objectives with short-term results. SU (2014) argues in favour of setting longer-term strategic objectives but designing short-term measures to enable gradual progress towards the longer-term goals within typically short-term project cycles.

Implications for design, monitoring and evaluation

The points above underline the importance of robust design, monitoring and evaluation of security and justice assistance. This is particularly important in fragile and conflict-affected contexts because of their complexity and the consequent difficulties in collecting data and in the attribution of results (OECD-DAC, 2012). Accurate and valid theories of change are based upon empirical evidence, local knowledge and up-to-date analysis, and can help identify local actors and gaps in provision, and potential linkages with other efforts (CARE, 2012; Stein & Valters, 2012). Furthermore, an explicitly articulated design process based upon valid theories of change encourages rigorous monitoring and evaluation activities (Corlazzoli & White, 2013b).

Tools and guidance

A comprehensive assessment is the first step in justice sector programming, and is critical in informing the design and implementation of assistance measures. Tools have been developed to help design appropriate interventions, particularly in the context of peacekeeping operations. They include resources on understanding the history of the sector and monitoring patterns of human rights violations:

  • Albrecht, P. & Kyed, H.M. (2010). Justice and security – when the state isn’t the main provider. DIIS Policy Brief, December 2010. Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies.
    See document online
  • CARE (2012). Defining Theories of Change. London: Care International UK / International Alert.
    See document online
  • Corlazzoli, V., & White, J. (2013b). Back to Basics: A Compilation of Best Practices in Design, Monitoring and Evaluation in Fragile and Conflict-affected Environments. London: DFID / Search for Common Ground
    See document online
  • Denney, L. & Domingo, P. (2013). A problem-focussed approach to violence against women: the political-economy of justice and security programming. London: ODI.
    See document online
  • De Vries, H., & van Veen, E. (2010). Living Apart Together? On the Difficult Linkage between DDR and SSR in Post-Conflict Environments. CRU Policy Brief 15, October 2010. The Hague: Clingendael.
    See document online
  • DFID. (2012a). A Theory of Change for Tackling Violence against Women and Girls. CHASE Guidance Note Series No. 1. London: DFID.
    See document online
  • Galletti, N., & Wodzicki, M. (2011). Securing Human Rights: Shifting the Security Sector Reform Paradigm. In M. Sedra (Ed.), The Future of Security Sector Reform. Ontario: The Centre for International Governance Innovation.
    See document online
  • Hansen, A.S., & Wiharta, S. (2007). The Transition to a Just Order: Establishing Local Ownership after Conflict – A Policy Report. Stockholm: Folke Bernadotte Academy.
    See document online
  • OECD. (2010). The State’s Legitimacy in Fragile Situations: Unpacking Complexity. Paris: OECD.
    See document online
  • OECD-DAC. (2007a). Enhancing the Delivery of Justice and Security. Paris: OECD.
    See document online
  • OECD-DAC. (2007b). Handbook on Security System Reform: Supporting Security and Justice. Paris: OECD.
    See document online
  • OECD-DAC. (2012). Evaluating Peacebuilding Activities in Setting of Conflict and Fragility: Improving Learning for Results. Paris: OECD.
    See document online
  • Schnabel, A. (2009). Ideal Requirements versus Real Environments in Security Sector Reform. In H. Born & A. Schnabel (Eds.), Security Sector Reform in Challenging Environments. Geneva: DCAF.
    See document online
  • Stein, D., & Valters, C. (2012). Understanding Theory of Change in International Development. London: The Justice and Security Research Programme, LSE.
    See document online
  • SU. (forthcoming). Policing the context: Principles and guidance to inform international policing assistance.
  • Van Veen, E. & Derks, M. (2012). The Deaf, the Blind and the Politician: The Troubles of Justice and Security Interventions in Fragile States. Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, 4, 76-97.
    See document online
  • WB. (2011). World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. See document online