Within and Without the State: Strengthening civil society in conflict-affected and fragile settings | Violence | Non Governmental Organization

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This report sets out the main findings from the global study commissioned as part of the development of the DFID-funded Fragility and Conflict Global Programme, co-ordinated by Amanda Buttinger in the Programme Policy Team at Oxfam GB. There is a growing sense within Oxfam that traditional approaches to working with civil society are yielding insufficient results in conflict-affected and fragile states. This global study was undertaken to help develop innovative approaches to strengthening civil society in such settings and, in particular, to identify lessons for the development of three planned pilot programmes. It was based on a review of existing literature and interviews with representatives of INGOs, academic institutions, and donors, complemented by a scoping exercise undertaken in South Sudan in September 2011.
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    www.oxfam.org.uk   Within and Without the State Strengthening civil society in conflict-affected and fragile settings  A summary of current thinking and implications for practice Liz Hughes Independent Consultant February 2012   This report sets out the main findings from the global study commissioned as part of the development of the DFID-funded Fragility and Conflict Global Programme, co-ordinated by Amanda Buttinger in the Programme Policy Team at Oxfam GB. OXFAM RESEARCH REPORT      Within and Without the State  , Oxfam GB Research Report, February 2012 2   Contents Summary ........................................................................................................................... 3   1. Purpose .......................................................................................................................... 5   2. Methodology ................................................................................................................ 5   3. Findings ........................................................................................................................ 7   4. Implications for programming ............................................................................... 18   5. Implications for management ................................................................................. 20   6. Summary and recommendations ........................................................................... 22   References ....................................................................................................................... 24   Annex A: People interviewed ..................................................................................... 25   Annex B: Interview template ...................................................................................... 26   Annex C: The power cube............................................................................................ 28      Within and Without the State  , Oxfam GB Research Report, February 2012 3   Summary   There is a growing sense within Oxfam that traditional approaches to working with civil society are yielding insufficient results in conflict-affected and fragile states. This global study was undertaken to help develop innovative approaches to strengthening civil society in such settings and, in particular, to identify lessons for the development of three planned pilot programmes. It was based on a review of existing literature and interviews with representatives of INGOs, academic institutions, and donors, and was complemented by a scoping exercise undertaken in South Sudan in September 2011. The main findings of the global study are as follows. Emerging thinking on state building and citizenship points to the importance of relationship building between the state and the citizen, and highlights the important condition of trust which must be established for this to take place effectively. Strengthening civil society appears to be about state building to enhance legitimacy rather than the promotion of a certain form of democracy. A central part of such work is building trust between the state and its citizens –  both male and female. This involves moving towards a more overt political engagement and raises many ethical challenges and dimensions for multi-mandated organisations. Political economy analysis is central to furthering effective programmes in conflict-affected and fragile states. However, the question of how to use the analysis has had limited treatment in the literature and was acknowleged in several interviews as being the main shortcoming in efforts to date, with a relatively small evidence base gathered for how to use this analysis to build the relationship between the state and civil society. Consideration of how to gender this analysis will be key if the situation for male and female citizens is to be properly understood. The need to work with a broader range of stakeholders, including from the informal sphere, is important and challenging. An analysis of informal influences is critical not only to identify positive and negative factors that may impact on programmes, but also to identify the broader coalition of agents through whom change might take place. Such a coalition, if truly broad, may not be an easy forum with which to engage, particularly as any process of change will lead to changes in who „wins‟ and who „loses‟. As such, the situation is dynamic and unpredictable and maintaining an ongoing analysis of changing stakeholder incentives will be important. The nature of civil society and its relationship to accountability has implications for programme development. The complexity of the concept of civil society suggests a further emphasis on analysis to understand the different interests and investments of civil society actors. In fragile situations, an emphasis on activities that demonstrate outcomes closest to the point of impact is more likely to yield results than participation in broader-based process activities that may not yield results in the lives of the most marginalised people, such as women and girls, for some time to come. However, connections need to be made between local-level activities –  which might combine voice, accountability, and governance components –  with national-level activities that contribute to state legitimacy. Establishing the mechanisms to facilitate this might be the central contribution that Oxfam can make to augment civil society ‟s  own efforts to bring about change.    Within and Without the State  , Oxfam GB Research Report, February 2012 4   Insecurity and violence are part of the canvas with which organisations work and need to be considered as a core part of programme design. An understanding of the i mpacts of violence and its continuing presence in people‟s lives is necessary to gain a more realistic understanding of citizens‟ ability to engage in civil society activities. Looking at change models currently in use, a different approach is proposed. This new approach challenges the current emphasis amongst donors for results-based programmes (which is also challenged by evidence of the slow pace of change) that make it hard for organisations to adopt a different, less prescriptive approach to working with civil society. There is an opportunity to consider this through an approach that seeks to facilitate channels for communication and relationship building around areas of common interest, where these are desirable, and to use this process more reflectively to set out incremental steps for change.
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