5.0 What are the fundamentals of a comprehensive approach?

An understanding of the Strategic Framework for S&R is necessary. Just as important is an understanding of the fundamentals of a comprehensive approach. These fundamentals come from almost every official guidance document that has been written on these missions and appear to be widely shared.

5.1 Interdependence

  • “Everything is connected to everything else,” as General Anthony Zinni (retired U.S. Marine Corps) wrote in the aftermath of the 1990s missions in Somalia.69 The end states and conditions described in this manual are part of an interlocking system of systems: Security requires the rule of law, essential services require governance, the rule of law is dependent on security, sustainable economies are dependent on the rule of law, ownership requires capacity, and meeting basic human needs requires all of the above. It is a spider web of interdependence that requires as much integration as possible.
  • Interdependence requires that all actors break out of their stovepipes. Actors in the political, security, economic, and social realms are not independent. Failing to achieve success in one realm jeopardizes success in all the others. Understand one’s role and connection to others in the big picture.70

5.2 Cooperation71

  • A shared strategic vision enables different actors to work cooperatively toward the same goal. This vision is the “storyline” that must be communicated through mandates, by leadership, and with full participation by the host nation population.72
  • Understanding organizational cultures and interests is necessary for cooperation. A basic knowledge of different organizational principles and cultures of actors is required.73 Understanding must be followed by a high degree of sensitivity to their interests and operating cultures or what motivates them and directs them to operate in a certain manner.
  • Cooperation requires constant communication, dialogue, and negotiation among all actors—international, host nation, government, and nongovernment. Communication involves mechanisms for sharing and reporting information about goals and activities. Active dialogue entails open exchanges between actors to facilitate a mutual understanding that may lead to better cooperation. When differences impede cooperation, negotiation may be required.

5.3 Prioritization

  • Priorities are necessary but must be flexible. Experience reveals that there are fundamental priorities in most societies emerging from conflict.74 Prioritization is required because multiple competing demands on the ground cannot be met with the available time and resources.
  • Focus priorities on:
    • Sources of conflict and stability75
    • Implementation of a political settlement76
    • Provision of services that meet basic human needs.

5.4 Nesting

  • Short-term objectives should be nested in the longer-term goals. An S&R mission restores peace to enable development. The millennium development goals embraced by member states of the United Nations are the longer-term goals.77 This requires a conscious nesting of the short-term stabilization imperative within the longer-term development objective. For example, the short-term need to establish order may require the involvement of international police. This should be nested in longer-term objectives to have routine law enforcement conducted by local, not international, police.78
  • Focus on rapid results, while understanding the impact on longer-term goals. Speedy commencement of assistance and the ability to deliver quick, observable, high-impact results establishes credibility.79 This still requires understanding the impact of urgent actions on the long-term.
  • Do not neglect the medium term. The rapid pace of S&R missions often gives way to a slower, more sluggish, middle-age period, where interest and resources decline. This widespread phenomenon risks a return to violent conflict. Focus on the importance of a medium-term framework for distributing international resources.80

5.5 Flexibility of Sequencing and Timing

  • Sequencing and timing or phasing are dependent on context. Any plan based on sequenced or timed and phased actions is a notional understanding of how events might proceed. In reality, local conditions are likely to change during the duration of each phase. They may even cause progress to revert from one phase to the other or to jump across phases:

Post-conflict environments are characterized by high volatility. Needs may change (new population displacements, for example); priorities may change (subsequent realization that a marginalized region or population segment poses a risk for peace building if their needs are not addressed); national counterparts may change, with implications for their views on recovery priorities; reforms or capacity building may prove to be more difficult than originally envisaged, necessitating changes in timing; the composition of the donor or international support group may change; and costs of reconstruction may change, due to security conditions or changes in possible sources of supply of materials or services.

Source: UNDP/WB, “DRAFT Joint Guidance Note on Integrated Recovery Planning.” 2007.

  • Locally led input on sequencing and timing actions is essential for success. Legitimate national and local representatives of the host nation should participate fully in shaping sequencing and timing of actions. The UN Peacebuilding Commission and its Peacebuilding Support Office have pioneered this consultative path with groundbreaking work in Burundi and Sierra Leone.81 Knowing if or when to strengthen substate, suprastate, or nonstate institutions; avoiding an often inappropriate replication of Western institutional models; and avoiding recreating institutions that caused conflict in the first place requires local input and deep consultation.82
  • The opening days and months of an S&R mission provide an opening to seize the initiative. The arrival of peacekeepers provides an opportunity to maximize initial efforts and solidify a fragile peace. Relief among the local population tends to be widespread and resistance among spoilers is often unorganized.83
  • Learn and adapt. The successful transition from conflict to sustainable peace involves managing change through constant learning and calibration of strategies to particular country circumstances that are always in flux.84
  • Forget linearity. Planned or logical sequencing will almost always be disrupted by the unpredictability of activities on the ground. Asynchronicity is the rule, not the exception.85 Since S&R missions do not unfold with any linear logical process, the need for a strategic vision and direction towards that vision is crucial.86

5.6 Measurements of Progress

  • A system of metrics translates lofty goals into measurable outcomes. The best goals can be undermined by inadequate initial analysis that does not identify the drivers and mitigators of conflict.87 A system of metrics should not measure success against inputs, but rather outcomes. For example, rather than measuring progress by the number of police trained, the system should assess whether there has been a reduction in crime.
  • Measuring progress allows continuous adjustments to strategy and implementation to improve success. Ongoing measurements should contribute to adjusting the goals, plans, and activities of all actors. Measuring Progress in Conflict Environments88 (MPICE) is a tool that is organized according to the five end states presented in this manual and offers a means to assess whether conflict drivers have been diminished and whether host nation institutions can maintain stability without significant international assistance.