8.5 Necessary Condition: Provision of Essential Services

8.5.1 What is the provision of essential services? Why is it a necessary condition?

Providing essential services is the primary function of administrative governance in societies emerging from conflict. These societies are in immediate need of security, the rule of law, economic governance, and basic human needs services such as health and education.351 In providing these services, the focus must be on the development of host nation capacity, equal access, and nondiscrimination in service delivery, and adequate and timely payment of civil service salaries to make peace pay. Providing essential services boosts the legitimacy of the host nation government and limits the influence of drivers of conflict that exploit the absence of essential services. Experience shows that people perceive the authority to govern to be contingent upon the provision of security, the rule of law, sound economic governance, and basic human needs services.

8.5.2 Guidance for the Provision of Essential Services

8.5.3 Approach: Core Service Delivery

Core service delivery involves providing security, the rule of law, economic governance, and basic human needs services for stabilization and reconstruction. Providing these services involves developing the core administrative and institutional capabilities of government. Accountability and transparency mechanisms, along with adequate resources, are necessary to provide equitable and effective service delivery, minimize corruption, and impede threats to the peace process by those who aim to sabotage delivery. Providing security, the rule of law, economic governance, and basic human needs services are interdependent priorities.

8.5.4 Focus on providing security, the rule of law, economic governance, and basic human needs services for stability and to provide space for political settlements and development. Not all government services are immediately essential, and in this resource-constrained, war-shattered environment, not all services can be delivered at once anyway. The priorities will always be security, the rule of law, economic governance, and basic human needs services if not already provided. The military or police, acting in accordance with human rights laws and conventions, must provide security for the host nation population, government employees, and the institutions of the state. Basic human needs—for water, food, shelter, health care, education, and sanitation—must be met. The society needs a system of justice based on the rule of law that holds violators of the peace accountable and offers human rights-based penal institutions for those convicted. When planning and providing these services, their interdependence must be recognized.

8.5.5 Transparency and accountability mechanisms help ensure that the government delivers essential services effectively and reliably. In societies emerging from conflict, government policies and use of state assets may have benefited elites and their networks at the expense of the population. Lax budget controls and public management may have led to endemic corruption. Redressing this common pattern of abuse requires, at a minimum, an adequate regulatory framework and budget management executed through some basic professional administration that strictly adheres to human rights conventions and the law. Also needed is a commitment to transparency in developing and implementing government policies, regulations, budgets, contracts, private-public partnerships, and civil service systems for the delivery of essential services.352 Mechanisms for transparency and accountability help ensure that the government protects the resources it needs to provide services, operates within the  bounds of the law, and responds to the population’s needs.

8.5.6 Understand the roles of state and non-state actors in providing services and the impact of those actors on stability. The host nation government should play a dominant role in providing services by engaging in direct provision of services to the population or by overseeing their provision through contracts. In the latter case, the government sets standards and monitors quality and quantity of service delivery through contracts.353 But informal actors can fulfill basic functions of governance as well.354 These actors may include traditional tribal, religious, clan-based networks or those led by warlords and their militias. While these differ from conventional western models of governance, they may have a central role in providing order and social services. These structures could be legitimate or benign and serve as the basis for local governance. Their control over delivery, if completely independent from the state, may have implications for stability, government legitimacy, and the need for nondiscrimination and equal access as they potentially serve only one part of the population (e.g., religious or tribal groups). If they are tied to destabilizing activities, such as arms trafficking or other organized crime activities, their role could undermine peace and should be proscribed or restricted.

8.5.7 Deliver security as a top priority and provide the cornerstone for stable governance. Security affords fragile government institutions an opportunity to develop their capacity, ensures the safety of new political leaders and processes, facilitates the effective provision of basic humanitarian services for populations in need, strengthens public support for inclusive and participatory government, and enables and protects critical revenue-generating activities for government operations. The hard lesson learned here is that security is more than the cessation of combat and separation of warring parties. It is about law and order and whether violators of the peace answer to a system of justice based on the rule of law. See also Section 6, Safe and Secure Environment.

8.5.8 Rebuild and uphold the rule of law as a primary responsibility of the host nation government. The inability of the justice system to function can allow crime and politically motivated violence to flourish. An integrated system of police, courts, and prisons must not be an afterthought—it is the basis for security. In order to restore the rule of law and banish a culture of impunity, civil and criminal legal codes, law enforcement, judicial institutions, and a penal system are required immediately and will likely need to be restored, rebuilt, or reformed. Equal access to justice should be ensured, particularly for minorities, women, and the poor, and international human rights standards should be upheld.355 Legal and constitutional frameworks for national and subnational governance need to be established or reformed based on the desires of the host nation population. See also Section 7, Rule of Law.

8.5.9 Provide good economic governance as a framework for stabilization and reconstruction. Good economic governance is essential to enable effective provision of basic services and to provide a framework for jumpstarting economic activity in a conflict-affected society. Such a framework for economic governance also addresses the challenges of a war-ravaged market economy, the need to generate employment, the collapse of the public finance system, and management of state of resources.356 Good economic governance requires a system of laws and regulations, policies and practices, and institutions and individuals that provide a framework for economic recovery.357 See also Section 9, Sustainable Economy.

8.5.10 Deliver essential services to meet basic human needs and restore the basis for government legitimacy. In these environments, there is a potential for large-scale humanitarian crises to threaten a fragile peace and host nation government legitimacy. The role of the government is to create the administrative foundation and infrastructure required to provide these services in a non-discriminatory and effective manner. Nongovernmental or private sector organizations that may help deliver these services should be accountable to national and local authorities with transparent accounting, hiring and management practices, and should adhere to human rights laws and conventions. See also Section 10, Social Well-Being.

8.5.11 Approach: Access and Nondiscrimination

In societies emerging from conflict, control over the provision of essential services translates into power for those who deliver. Whether it is the government or non-state providers delivering the services, it is necessary that the population have equal access to the services and that the services are provided in a nondiscriminatory manner. Equal access means that administrative, geographic, political, and financial barriers to essential services are removed. Nondiscriminatory service delivery that affords equal treatment regardless of ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation is a requirement for stability.

8.5.12 How essential services are provided is just as important as the delivery itself. Because the provision of essential services empowers and bestows authority upon providers, those responsible for decisions must think about which institutions will provide the services, which political officials will be responsible for oversight, how the services will be provided, and by what standards. The dialogue on restoring services and accompanying infrastructure should begin before a peace agreement is signed and should include both providers and intended beneficiaries. Identify the appropriate individuals for managing resources, developing institutional capacity and monitoring service delivery, and be sure that implementation is carried out by legitimate national and subnational agencies.358 An effective monitoring system that engages the host nation population and civil society will enhance service provision.

8.5.13 Provide equal access to services and nondiscrimination in delivery to enhance the government’s legitimacy, support the peace process, and help prevent a renewal of conflict. Before or during violent conflict, essential services may have been denied to certain segments of the population either as a means for punishing some and rewarding others or because the collapse of government institutions prevented delivery. Restoration of service delivery is directly connected to securing peace and preventing renewal of conflict. In service delivery, money, personnel, and infrastructure need to be distributed across the population. In doing so, ensure that all communities, regardless of ethnic, religious, or political affiliation, are provided for and that access is guaranteed.359 If equal access is not assured or the population perceives that access is preferential, resentment and frustration with the government will likely increase and be capitalized on by spoilers. Impartiality is a legal obligation, regardless of considerations of political necessity.

8.5.14 Approach: Host Nation Capacity

Developing host nation capacity is the exit strategy for international actors and the path for peace for the host nation population. Host nation capacity for service delivery means that services are largely implemented and managed by the host nation population. This approach is more affordable and sustainable than using international actors, enhances the government’s legitimacy, and boosts the economy by putting resources into the hands of the  host nation population. Weak capacity is better than no capacity.

See Trade-off: Section 8.9.1, Rapid and effective delivery of essential services vs. legitimacy for nascent government institutions.

See Trade-off: Section 10.9.1, Delivering assistance through host nation vs. international capacity.

8.5.15 Build host nation capacity to deliver essential services in a professional, accountable, and sustainable manner. This requirement places a heavy burden on the need to find, train, mentor, and pay local personnel. Accountability mechanisms to ensure delivery and equal access and to prevent destabilizing corruption are key to building sustainable local capacity. If international assistance is required while capacity is built, typical approaches include (1) temporary substitution for these governments, (2) direct assistance for capacity-building to these governments, (3) support for public-private partnerships, and (4) assistance through nongovernmental organizations.360 Even when government capacity to provide services is very weak, delivering services “with” rather than “for” local government improves prospects for legitimacy and stability.361

8.5.16 Make peace pay through effective personnel management. For peace to last, it has to pay. Making peace pay means that government employees responsible for essential services are provided quick employment and are paid. In the immediate aftermath of violent conflict, fair systems are needed for vetting those who perpetrated war crimes or who might use government positions to continue violence. To ensure reasonable guarantee of service delivery, prevent the rise of pervasive corruption, build constituencies for peace, and make it a priority to pay the salaries of essential service providers on a regular and timely basis.362 This means that significant resources for salaries should be committed to the central budget, and a transparent and efficient system should be in place for disbursement, including local banking or payment mechanisms. Accounting and tracking procedures should ensure that the money goes to the providers who earn it.

See Gap/Challenge: Section 8.10.1, Making peace pay and civil service reform.

8.5.17 Manage expectations of the population through communication about service delivery. The population’s expectations for services should match reality. This is especially important when a peace accord generates high expectations among the former warring parties and the population.363 Spoilers are quick to capitalize on unmet expectations and can use the population’s frustration to their advantage. National and subnational government institutions should conduct strategic communications campaigns about service delivery to keep expectations aligned with the ability to provide.364 Consultative structures, particularly for local government, should be created to facilitate dialogue about service needs and delivery between the population and providers.365