Deborah Mansfield, Legal Assistance for Economic Reform (LASER) Team Leader
Sarah Callaghan, LASER Resident Advisor in the Ministry of Justice, Rwanda
There is an increasing recognition in the development industry of the need to ‘do development differently,’ working in more locally led, politically savvy and iterative ways that are more in keeping with the way social change tends to happen. We know that this is through ‘good enough’, technically sound and politically possible solutions led by local reformers. Yet operationalising such ways of working are difficult, and the security and justice sectors in particular have struggled to move beyond more conventional ways of working.
Drawing lessons from DFID’s innovative Legal Assistance for Economic Reform (LASER) Programme, and from the fast developing Doing Development Differently literature, The Law & Development Partnership (LDP) will explore at a very practical level the emerging implications for donor programming. We will look at how this new approach can be accommodated within existing donor (especially DFID) programming structures and requirements and with examples from the field discuss how it impacts on programme design and implementation.
About the speakers:
Deborah Mansfield has been a solicitor for over 25 years, and is an expert in justice sector reform and investment climate reform. She has worked extensively in development-focused roles for DFID, the European Commission, Sida, Norad, the World Bank, IFC, the UN and the Law Society of England & Wales. With LDP, she has designed and developed justice sector reform strategies in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Vietnam and Kenya.
Sarah Callaghan is an Australian barrister and solicitor with over 10 years’ experience working on justice reform and governance issues with governments and international agencies. She has worked extensively for AusAid, Danida, Irish Aid, the Norwegian Refugee Council, DFID, the European Commission and the UN, on designing and implementing justice reform, peacebuilding and democratic governance programmes in a range of complex environments in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia.
The discussion following Deborah and Sarah’s presentation covered the following issues:
- Potential inability of funders to understand (in contracting
terms) how to operationalise a different approach. It was observed that there
is a lot of interest from donors in using this approach, they are just
struggling to figure out how to manage it.
- There are questions about whose problems are being solved
and for what purpose, i.e. by pursuing windows of opportunity, will we end up
addressing only the easy wins and not addressing the more challenging problems.
There are further questions of whether we should only be addressing these
problems identified by local partners or should outside organisations try and
draw attention to problems? These issues can in part be tackled by ongoing use
of PEA to understand who exactly will benefit and what power relations will
change as a result of addressing this problem.
- Can this approach be applied to community justice and police
reform which tend to be more intractable. This has been applied at the local
level by various organisations on justice and security issues, which ICAI
report suggests has gone well.
- Sometimes these kind of programmes can be cut when a crisis
hits, so there is likely to be a need to continue to support these programmes
even as humanitarian aid increases.
- This approach essentially involves putting advisors into
government departments which was popular 10 years ago. Is PDIA just a fad?
- Having less money helps the team use this approach as the
relationship between them and partner governments is less about money and more
- Can these programmes work where there is very little trust
in central government? This kind of work may bolster legitimacy of
post-conflict governments. One way of ameliorating that is to act as a
facilitator and get more people around the table, but it remains a difficult
- In some contexts the state system can be very hierarchical
and they want to move quickly with a solution that worked elsewhere. But with
time a different approach can make some headway.
- The ability to admit failure for both host governments and
practitioners is important
- Can these approaches continue if staff change in DFID? There
may be commitment but it needs to reconciled with the demand for results. Some
argue DFID has become essentially a procurement organisation without the
requisite skills to deal with flexible, iterative contracting arrangements
- A big critique of security and justice programmes is that they
treat political will as a black box – how does this approach change that?
Partly about building a network of relationships through long-term engagement.