Practitioner Training: Good Governance and Rule of Law in Fragile States

In cooperation with The Hague Academy for Local Governance, The Hague Institute for Global Justice will offer a new training program in January 2014. The Good Governance & Rule of Law in Fragile States training is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program aimed at government, international organizations, and NGO personnel working in fragile and conflict affected states.

The training consists of six one-week modules in which the local context and experiences of the participants are the starting point for discussions with international top experts and a variety of interactive exercises. The course will address the key challenges mentioned below, illustrated by research results and practical cases from Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Libya.

The program aims to address the following key challenges:

  • restore legal order and increasing access to justice
  • re-establish human safety and security
  • increase government accountability and trust between government and citizens
  • rebuild public services and promote socio-economic development
  • promote mechanisms for peaceful settlement of conflict

Learning objectives

Participants who have completed the training will have:

  • increased their insight in concepts of conflict sensitivity and peace settlement at a local level;
  • practiced with applying these concepts and mechanisms in their own local context;
  • learned about the role of the different institutions, both government, judiciary and traditional leadership, in restoring security, legitimacy and effectiveness;
  • increased understanding of factors in the political economical context that influence performance of state and local institutions;
  • designed a concrete action plan in which they define their own role and the role of their partners in the peace process and the steps they are going to take back home.


The program deals with post-conflict reconstruction of local governance and rule of law in terms of three dimensions: reconstituting legitimacy, re-establishing security, and rebuilding effectiveness. In the first module these concepts will be introduced and linkages that exist between these dimensions will receive particular attention. Mechanisms of conflict settlement will be discussed and practiced with the participants.

Module 2 will focus on reconstituting legitimacy. Without a sufficient degree of legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the population, states have difficulty functioning. Reconstituting legitimacy in post-conflict states involves: expanding citizen participation and inclusiveness, reducing discrimination and inequities in terms of representation in and access to decision making, creating accountability, combating corruption, and introducing contestability, both in terms of elections and seeking redress for unjust government decisions. Specific topics that will receive attention in this context are government transparency and accountability, decentralisation and participation of civil society, the role of traditional leaders and the media, protection and inclusion of minorities, and promoting dialogue between conflicting groups.

The third and fourth modules deal with improving security. Clearly, a high priority activity in post-conflict and war-torn societies is coping with the lack of security. Security is a necessary precursor to stabilization and progress towards a return to something approaching ‘normal’ economic and political activity. Security problems will manifest themselves at many different levels. A first category of security concerns require a response that is organised primarily at the central level of government. Here, we can think of the functioning and the control exercised over security services and security sector institutions, or efforts directed at the classic trio of disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration. In this curriculum however, we will focus on human security and the role of law in improving security.

By discussing concrete case studies, among others from Burundi and South Kivu (DRC),module three discusses topics such as local security policies and coordination structures, community policing, roles and responsibilities of (local) authorities vis-à-vis the police, courts and prosecutors, and the military.

Module four will deal with human rights, access to justice and transitional justice in a post-conflict context. Topics are citizens’ rights and their awareness of these rights, the accessibility and effectiveness of regular, traditional, and transitional justice institutions, and the potential of alternative dispute resolution.

The last two modules deal with restoring effectiveness. Conflict and wars destroy basic infrastructure, disrupt the delivery of core services (e.g. health, education, electricity, water, sanitation) and impede the day-to-day routines associated with making a living. In the worst-case scenarios, they lead to widespread suffering, massive population dislocation, humanitarian crises and epidemics, which overwhelm the already inadequate effectiveness of failed-state governments. The inability of failed and post-conflict states to provide fundamental public goods and services has impacts on both the immediate prospects for tending to citizens’ basic needs and restarting economic activity, and long-term prospects for assuring welfare, reducing poverty, and facilitating socio-economic growth. Restoring (or in some cases creating) service delivery capacity and initiating economic recovery are central to governance reconstruction agendas.

In module five the emphasis will be on (fiscal) decentralization, inter-administrative relations, multilevel (service) delivery and public private partnerships to restore (basic) services in a post-conflict setting. Decentralization and (regional) conflict will be part of the discussion as well as local government capacity building and local financing instruments.

Module six centers on social and economic development in contexts of fragility. In this module we will look at international, national and local dimensions of promoting inclusive economic and social development, such as job creation and youth employment, economic development in resource rich communities, social security and social safety nets.

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