4.0 High-Level Trade-offs

Many decisions in S&R missions involve difficult trade-offs. Trade-offs refer to the inherent conflicts that exist between objectives. They involve making concessions between those objectives and understanding the impact on stability. For example, bringing a warlord into government can undermine legitimacy of the government, but it may be the only way to end violence in a particular part of the country. Banning a group of people from government can signal an end to impunity for some, while also fueling an insurgency. Understanding these trade-offs can help guide strategy and mitigate possible negative consequences. Trade-offs are highlighted throughout this manual and embedded in specific discussions of the five end states.

The following high-level trade-offs are overarching:

4.1 Stability vs. host nation legitimacy refers to the trade-off between the urgent need for international actors to secure the peace and the possibility that these actions are not seen by the host nation population as connected to their local leaders or government and do not build the legitimacy or capacity of the host nation.

4.2 Expediency vs. sustainability refers to short-term actions that show a peace dividend and signal that violent conflict is over but are not sustainable by the host nation over time. Inherent conflicts between short- and long-term objectives can include maintaining employment vs. cutting jobs in order to restructure the economy.67 Large infrastructure projects, oversized armies, and expensive national elections are other examples related to this trade-off.

4.3 Meeting needs vs. building capacity refers to the quandary faced by international actors—governmental and nongovernmental—when it is easier to fulfill needs directly than to build host nation capacity to deliver critical assistance.

4.4 High-Level Gaps and Challenges

Gaps refer to weaknesses that exist in knowledge and that recur from mission to mission. Challenges refer to shortfalls in practice, even when best practices have already been identified. Both gaps and challenges are addressed throughout the manual.68

4.5 Lack of an agreed overall vision or “storyline” that sets the strategic direction for stabilization and reconstruction. See Sections 3.4, Political Primacy and 3.6, Unity of Effort.

4.6 Insufficient realism in the timelines for key recovery outcomes, resulting in unreasonable expectations on the part of the host nation population and leadership and international partners. See Section 3.5, Legitimacy.

4.7 Inadequate links between priorities across the security, rule of law, governance, economic and social arenas. See Section 3.6, Unity of Effort.

4.8 Loss of momentum after the key transition event, such as a peace agreement or election. See Section 3.3, Host Nation Ownership and Capacity.

4.9 Ineffective transitions from international to local control to sustain peace and prevent a relapse into conflict. See Section 3.3, Host Nation Ownership and Capacity.

4.10 Insufficient understanding of host nation context and needs. See Section 3.3, Host Nation Ownership and Capacity.