Strategic Network on Justice, Conflict and Development

Lead Research Organisation: London School of Economics & Pol Sci
Department Name: International Relations

Abstract

One of the most pressing challenges for many developing countries is how to achieve and maintain peace. Conflict makes development in any form (economic growth; poverty reduction; increased human rights protection) extremely difficult to achieve. This has been recognised by international organisations and aid donors, and much development assistance is now directed to conflict resolution in Fragile and Conflict Affected States (FCAS). This network focuses on one of the main ways in which states and the international community now approach conflict resolution: the promotion of justice initiatives. The use of 'transitional justice' (TJ), including trials, commissions of inquiry, reparations and amnesties, has increased markedly since the 1990s, with justice seen as a way to end conflict and achieve societal reconciliation. Academic and donor work has attempted to assess the impact of TJ on peace and development, but has produced inconclusive, even contradictory results. This leaves a significant research gap, and a pressing need to fill it as donors increasingly fund justice projects as part of development agendas, and policy makers and advocacy groups seek to achieve justice for, and promote the welfare of, conflict-affected populations.

The network is motivated by a desire to better understand the relationship between justice and development by focusing on four conflict-affected developing countries (Colombia, Sri Lanka, Syria and Uganda). Each of these states (or opposition groups, in the case of Syria) is currently making decisions on what kinds of TJ institutions to build, often under pressure from the international community, but without robust evidence about the likely impacts of their policy options. The network brings together 18 academic and non-academic experts, plus civil society project partners, who collectively have a broad range of knowledge and experience in the case sites and elsewhere. Project partners will facilitate links with stakeholder groups (including those whose voices tend to be marginalised within policy circles, such as those displaced and dispossessed by conflict; woman; youth) and arts organisations, to feed alternative sources of knowledge into the network. Most participants are either nationals of developing states or work in them.

The aim of the network is to develop interdisciplinary research agendas, relationships and capacities to understand the interactions between TJ institutions and development in FCAS. To achieve this aim, the network objectives are 1) Develop ambitious and impactful comparative research agendas on justice and development in FCAS, including applying for at least one large grant; 2) Synthesise, map and disseminate existing research and identify knowledge gaps, including by engaging alternative sources of knowledge; 3) Foster interdisciplinary engagement by capacity and relationship building; 4) Engage policy makers, advocacy groups and publics in case sites and elsewhere.

The network will be hosted by the LSE Centre for International Studies. It will achieve its objectives through three sets of activities: 1) Project workshops, to be held in Colombia, Sri Lanka, Lebanon and Uganda (plus a 'virtual' workshop). Workshops will be attended by all network participants plus local researchers and stakeholders. They will be structured around conceptual frames (e.g. Conflict/ Peace; Legal/ Political; International/ Local) rather than cases or disciplines in order to generate creative approaches to research questions and methods. 2) Activities organised around workshops to maximise engagement with, and benefits to, stakeholders, e.g. public roundtable discussions; meetings between network participants and policy makers, journalists, non-academic stakeholders and PhD students; exchange visits to case sites for network participants. 3) Virtual engagement via an interactive project website (including open access resource centre), a series of blog symposia and a LinkedIn Group.

Planned Impact

As academic beneficiaries are discussed separately, this section deals solely with non-academic stakeholders. Non-academic beneficiaries include: the project partners; civil society institutions seeking to influence justice and development agendas in the case study states (Colombia, Sri Lanka, Syria and Uganda) and in other states experiencing conflict and transitions from conflict; policy makers in the case sites interested in understanding the interactions between justice institutions and development; policy makers in states considering adoption of particular justice mechanisms; international institutions seeking to influence conflict cessation and development (e.g. donors; UNDP; DfID; International Center for Transitional Justice). Less directly, members of the public in conflict-affected states tend to be highly impacted by violence and poverty, and therefore have a great deal of interest in its termination and in campaigning for forms of justice and development.

The project draws on a strong track record of civil society and policy maker engagement by the investigators. The network's activities will facilitate knowledge exchange between academics and research users. Project partners and non-academic participants in the network will contribute substantively to the workshops, and also benefit from them in terms of exposure to relevant research and generation of new contacts in comparable states.

'Impact activities' likely to benefit non-academics will take place alongside all in-country academic workshops. These will include policy meetings between network participants, project partner representatives and policy makers or journalists and public roundtable discussions, along with events, exhibitions and meetings run by project partners. These activities will take place in conflict-affected regions as well as capital cities. Particular care will be taken to invite to events more marginalised stakeholders, including women, plus groups of specific relevance in the case sites (for instance, trade unionists and landless peasants in Colombia, representatives of missing persons in Sri Lanka, representatives of Syrian refugee groups and IDP returnees in Uganda). All impact activities will be publicised on the network website and by the investigators and project partners through their own extensive networks.

In addition to in-country activities, the dissemination of the network's resource centre is likely to be useful to non-academic researchers and activists, particularly, but not exclusively, in the case sites. The website will include a map of current research, links to open access content and non-academic materials, working papers and blog posts by network participants and details of, and contacts for, current research initiatives participants are engaged in. The website will also include welcome pages, project details and contact details for network participant key contacts (plus, eventually, a summary of the network's final report) in Spanish, Sinhalese, Tamil, Arabic and Swahili. A LinkedIn Group will also be set up to allow a wide range of non-academic stakeholders to participate in the network by connecting with like-minded researchers and sharing relevant content.

The network will have an institutional home at the interdisciplinary LSE Centre for International Studies, giving it further capacity for impact. The Centre is a collaborative venture between the Departments of Economics, Government, History, International Development, International Relations, Law, Social Policy and Sociology and aims, inter alia, to facilitate in-depth dialogue on international issues and to stimulate research collaborations between LSE academics and scholars and practitioners elsewhere. The PI is the Director of the Centre and the CIS Management Committee has approved hosting the network at the Centre, giving potential for impact within UK non-academic communities through events hosted at LSE and publicity on the Centre's website.

Publications

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Ainley K (2018) Contracting Human Rights

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Aoláin F (2018) The Feminist Institutional Dimensions of Power-Sharing and Political Settlements in Nationalism and Ethnic Politics

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Fionnuala Ní Aoláin (2018) The Feminist Institutional Dimensions of Power-Sharing and Political Settlements in Nationalism and Ethic Politics

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Gomez, M. (2017) The Politics of Dealing with the Past in Deeply Divided Sri Lanka in Harvard Human Rights Journal

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Kurtenbach S (2018) Understanding the relation between war economies and post-war crime in Third World Thematics: A TWQ Journal

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Ni Aolain, F. (2017) After Things Fall Apart: Challenges for Transitional Justice Futures in Human Rights and International Legal Discourse

 
Description There are three main academic achievements from the grant:

1) new research questions opened up
The network met four times, in the case-study states (Colombia, Sri Lanka, Syria and Uganda) or as close as possible. During these meetings we hosted conference panels at which we presented our own work and invited presentations from local academics, met policy makers and civil society groups, travelled to conflict-affected areas and met local PhD students. These activities were used to learn about the case sites and generate new research questions for ongoing research about the connections between justice, conflict and development.

The most important first step in generating new research questions was to recognise how the three fields are intertwined. It quickly became clear that by treating the fields separately, as they often are in academic research, we were missing the importance of gender equality, land rights, and socioeconomic rights to the ways that justice and development policies impact on conflict and peace. Managing issues of development after conflict in equitable ways help to ensure that new lines of conflict do not emerge, and may be even more important than justice initiatives for promoting peace.

We also noted that, where the nexus between justice and development has been recognised, as in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the claim that these domains are mutually reinforcing is often faith-based rather than supported by empirical research. Neo-liberal economic development policies tend to be promoted on the assumption that they will ultimately increase the protection of socioeconomic rights in conflict-affected societies. At the same time, neo-liberal economic growth, which attracts foreign direct investment into local economies, may end up dispossessing local and indigenous communities of their farmlands and increasing environmental degradation, which in turn undermines socioeconomic and cultural rights. Similarly, we noted how the political economy of conflict causes the emergence of economies and forms of development during conflict times that are driven by the combatants' interests. At the same time, the conflict impedes multiple forms of human and economic development, in deeply gendered ways. These limitations translate into a violation of the economic, social, and cultural rights of the victims, such as the impossibility to attend school for children, or the almost complete destruction of health infrastructure. These violations are issues of both justice and development.

2) new research networks, collaborations or partnerships
The network activities were extremely successful in generating new relationships and deepening existing relationships - between individuals and institutions. A series of collaborations are listed separately on ResearchFish, and include co-authored publications, consultancies and expert advice. Amongst the most rewarding experiences of the network was the cross-fertilisation that occurred when people who have directly lived the experiences of conflict and injustice in different case-sites discussed issues that affect them both - for instance the use of amnesties and displacement.

3) new research capability or specialist skills
During the course of the network, participants developed new research capacities by taking advantage of knowledge exchange around policy impact (some of our participants have significant expertise in the field which they shared) and exchange visits.
Exploitation Route The most significant way in which the research findings will be taken forward is in a major new project - a UKRI GCRF research hub on Gender, Justice and Security. The Justice, Conflict and Development network joined with the ESRC Strategic Network on Gender Violence across War and Peace to form a research hub which was awarded funding by GCRF to start in February 2019. The Hub will deliver innovative interdisciplinary research on and impact towards achieving gender justice and inclusive security in conflict-affected societies. To do so, the Hub addresses the overlap of three major policy fields: Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on gender equality; SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions; and the implementation of the UNSC Women, Peace and Security agenda. Each tackles a major barrier to human development and security, intractable in large part because of the scale and complexity of gender inequality across diverse contexts, exacerbated by strong resistance to change from vested interests. By bringing UK and developing-country researchers from multiple disciplinary and methodological perspectives together in an ambitious collaborative research programme, the Hub will interrogate the intersections of some of the most pressing contemporary injustices and insecurities, as identified in the feeder ESRC networks.
Sectors Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy

URL https://justiceanddevelopment.com/
 
Description The grant hosted four workshops, in Colombia, Uganda, Sri Lanka and Lebanon and Turkey (for Syria), to which we invited a wide range of academic and civil society participants. The goal of the grant was to build networks, and we were very successful in doing so - many of the people we invited to the workshops will play a part in the GRCF Gender, Justice and Security Hub, which is the GCRF grant that builds on the strategic network.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Angelika Rettberg participation on Government of Colombia negotiating team in peace talks with ELN
Geographic Reach South America 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Fionnuala Ní Aoláin role as United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Since taking up the role of SR in August 2017, a number of the issues and countries that define the network have figured prominently in Fionnuala's work including a country report on Sri Lanka, as well as mainstreaming gender issues throughout the work of the mandate. All details here: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Terrorism/Pages/FionnualaNiAolain.aspx
 
Description Sriram has acted as a trainer for four sessions (2017-2018) for the UK government's stabilisation unit on justice and conflict, using the Colombia situation and lessons from the GCRF network in that country to inform the case study.
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description GCRF Interdisciplinary Hubs
Amount £17,435,000 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/S004025/1 
Organisation Research Councils UK (RCUK) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2024
 
Description Performing Violence, Engendering Change: Developing Arts-Based Approaches to Peacebuilding
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/T023864/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2020 
End 03/2021
 
Description Amani Institute-Uganda will join a collaborative research partnership with Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS), Gulu University and Advocates for Research in Development (ARID) partnering on Local Governments Capacity to address resource based conflicts in post-conflict northern Uganda. 
Organisation Advocates for Work in Development
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Collaboration just starting
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration just starting
Impact Collaboration just starting
Start Year 2018
 
Description Amani Institute-Uganda will join a collaborative research partnership with Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS), Gulu University and Advocates for Research in Development (ARID) partnering on Local Governments Capacity to address resource based conflicts in post-conflict northern Uganda. 
Organisation Gulu University
Country Uganda 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaboration just starting
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration just starting
Impact Collaboration just starting
Start Year 2018
 
Description Amani Institute-Uganda will join a collaborative research partnership with Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS), Gulu University and Advocates for Research in Development (ARID) partnering on Local Governments Capacity to address resource based conflicts in post-conflict northern Uganda. 
Organisation University of Ibadan
Department Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies
Country Nigeria 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaboration just starting
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration just starting
Impact Collaboration just starting
Start Year 2018
 
Description Blog post on 'Better understanding the relationship between justice and development in conflict-affected countries' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Kirsten Ainley was interviewed for a blog post on the RCUK website to describe the objectives and activities of the network. There were a number of follow up enquiries for further information after the post was published.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://blogs.rcuk.ac.uk/2017/12/20/better-understanding-the-relationship-between-justice-and-develo...
 
Description Blog posts by network members on network activity so far 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Blog posts were published by collaborative partnerships of network members to discuss the activities of the network so far and pathways for future research. The posts were advertised via social media and have led to various requests for more information or to participate in future activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://justiceanddevelopment.com/events/blog/
 
Description Blogging at Just Security (Fionnuala Ní Aoláin) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Ní Aoláin has been blogging regularly on gender and security issues at Just Security on issues that intersect with the work of the network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
URL https://www.justsecurity.org/author/niaolainfionnuala/
 
Description Blogging at Justice in Conflict (Mark Kersten) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Mark Kersten has been blogging regularly on justice issues at Justice in Conflict on issues that intersect with the work of the network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
URL http://justiceinconflict.org
 
Description Project website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project website giving details of the aims and objectives of the project, project participants, and data on the case sites Colombia, Uganda, Sri Lanka and Syria.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://justiceanddevelopment.com/
 
Description Wiebelhaus-Brahm presentation to 2018 CSSC Student, Faculty & Staff Research & Creative Works Showcase "At the Crossroads: Intersecting Research, Creative Works, and Community Engagement" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Eric Wiebelhaus-Brahm presented as part of the 2018 CSSC Student, Faculty & Staff Research & Creative Works Showcase "At the Crossroads: Intersecting Research, Creative Works, and Community Engagement" at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, on the intersection of research and community engagement within the research network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://ualr.edu/cssc/2018showcase/
 
Description Wiebelhaus-Brahm report on Sri Lanka workshop in UA Little Rock University News 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Report in the University of Arkansas Little Rock Newsletter on the Sri Lanka workshop which took place as part of the network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://ualr.edu/news/2018/02/28/wibelhaus-brahm-sri-lanka/#more-69566