Conflict and Fragility

Reports and papers

Improving security and justice through local/non­state actors

14 Apr 2012 - 10:47

Local/non‐state actors often play an important role in the provision of justice and security services in many of the world’s fragile and (post‐)conflict countries. With a view to improving their effectiveness, donors seeking to support justice and security development in those countries frequently look for ways to incorporate them in their programmes. However, given that non‐state actors can also be detrimental to local security and justice (for example when they form part of organized crime), supporting them also involves huge risks. With this dilemma in mind, the Clingendael Institute’s Conflict Research Unit investigated conceptual, policy and practical opportunities and challenges for including local/non‐state security and justice networks in security and justice programming. The project consisted of a conceptual desk‐study; case studies in Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi; and a synthesis phase focusing on the lessons learned from the project, complemented by an expert brainstorm meeting, on the practical issues that donors must deal with if they are to successfully include local/non‐state actors in security and justice programmes.
The present report summarizes the findings from this synthesis effort. It concludes that in each of the cases examined, it was possible to identify local/non‐state actors suitable for support and ways to support them. They included actors such as local courts, lay judges, neighbourhood watch groups, community development councils, and trade associations. However, the research also identified a number of practical risks and challenges that donors need to manage and overcome in order to ensure that such actors are included effectively into broader, overall security and justice programmes.