Strengthening Civil Society Networking and Capacity Development for Reconciliation

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2008-2012, Cyprus
Evaluation Type:
Outcome
Planned End Date:
12/2009
Completion Date:
12/2009
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
20,000

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Title Strengthening Civil Society Networking and Capacity Development for Reconciliation
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2008-2012, Cyprus
Evaluation Type: Outcome
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2009
Planned End Date: 12/2009
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Environment & Sustainable Development
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. A strengthened culture of cooperation and trust amongst all sectors of Cypriot society
Evaluation Budget(US $): 20,000
Source of Funding:
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
Lawrence Lachmansingh & Charles Weden Team Leader
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: CYPRUS
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 In our meetings we were struck by the limited awareness regarding the important changes that had or were in the process of being made within ACT. As a first order of business, ACT staffers are urged to reach out to partners and other constituents of the programme to inform them of the changes that have occurred, particularly in terms of focus, inter-communal collaboration and the time horizon. An operational updating for partners will also be useful.
2 Review of Project Names: ACT is encouraged to work with partners to ensure that project names effectively communicate the underlying thrust of the project.
3 Review Project RRFs: While we were mostly impressed with the Results and Resources Frameworks for the projects, particularly the indicators, baselines and their measureability, we were not so convinced in a couple of cases, such as Cyprus 2015 (the outcome indicators are not necessarily symptomatic of the outcome, baselines not indicated) and Community Media (baselines not indicated). We recommend a thorough review of the RRF?s and adjustments that would emphasise both output and outcome indicators.
4 -Establish an informal advisory group: We met several ACT partners who are capable of contributing more than project implementation to the goal of the programme. These partners have a vision of a reconciled Cyprus, commitment, passion and a keen sense of how to get things done in Cyprus. We recommend that these ?reconciliation champions? be brought together into an informal ACT advisory group that could advise on both broader strategic issues (e.g. new initiatives and political analysis) as well as tactical considerations (e.g. managing officialdom and operational problem solving). -Establish a Partners Forum: To increase synergies and impact, it is proposed that a mechanism be established where programme partners are routinely engaged. This mechanism should also permit the easy dissemination of information (e.g. a newsletter or an e-mail distribution list) and provide opportunities for collaborative working relations across projects (e.g. discussion groups, joint activities).
5 Adjust Management and Project Architecture: The preceding recommendations, if implemented, would be assisted by a graphical adjustment of the ACT management and project architecture. These could lead the process of implementing the Advisory Committee and the Partners Forum. The following two graphics are illustrative of what the adjusted architecture might look like.
6 Establish a Civil Society Agenda on Reconciliation: As it currently stands, ACT has increased its focus considerably by reducing the number of projects and concentrating partners into networks. At the same time, however, there is no broader or formal civil society agenda viz. the negotiations: the linkages between civil society groups are all through the ACT programme (as per figures 3 and 4 above), which represents a threat to sustainability. ACT might consider engaging the Advisory Committee, if formed, on the best way of going about the establishment of this agenda. While some have complained that civil society has no explicit role in the negotiations, the authorities agree that civil society has a role to play in reconciliation. Enough is publicly known about the issues being grappled with in the talks (e.g. land ownership, economic integration), as well as the confidence-building measures already agreed, for civil society to develop an agenda without a formal invitation to do so. The success of ACT II will be driven mainly by the leaders of partner organizations? As with vital assets anywhere, these leaders must be protected and preserved. An additional opportunity, if this recommendation is pursued, will be to engage those members of civil society not currently part of ACT, including mass-based organizations, women?s groups and members of the Diaspora.
7 Strengthen Leaders: The success of ACT II will be driven mainly by the leaders of partner organisations, such as have been described earlier in recommendation iv. As with vital assets anywhere, these leaders must be protected and preserved, particularly so that they can withstand operational, social and political pressures. ACT could usefully consider ways of engaging leaders with a view to developing and sustaining their capacities. The Advisory Committee would be an obvious double-benefit mechanism for both receiving from and giving to the leaders. Thought could also be given to dedicated peer sessions, perhaps on the side of Partner Forums or on an ad hoc basis, as well as formal leadership strengthening workshops ? such as might be possible in collaboration with the EU leadership support activity through the Council of Europe.
8 Support ACT Team: A similar case can be made for ACT staff as for civil society leaders. The Team is a vital asset from whom steady outputs are required for the success of the programme. Mechanisms for dealing with the stresses arising from operational, social and political pressures, particularly for local staff, have been used in the past and should be maintained, even deepened, going forward. Social activities, empathetic management, professional development, and group retreats all require resources, particularly time, but the benefits are likely worth it. Also, given the demonstrated expertise of ACT staff, consideration could be given to sharing staff and their experiences with other UNDP peace programmes through exchanges and temporary assignments, to mutual benefit.
9 Extract and Share Good Practices: The cutting-edge nature of ACT II and its transition processes from ACT I will aid other peacebuilders around the world. The efforts to distill and capture the lessons from Cyprus should be deepened as soon as the initial flurry of ACT II activities are well underway and space for introspection is available. The point was made, and it is taken, that the lesson-learning process ought to simultaneously contribute to the strengthening of practice in Cyprus. To this end, consideration could be given to using mechanisms such as the Partners Forum to review experiences and codify some of the learning, using techniques that are as much ?celebratory? as they are ?extractive.? Feeding knowledge products back to Cypriots will also strengthen future local practice in the same way, perhaps even moreso, as it would an overseas audience. Another potentially rich vein of learning to mine relates to Cyprus? categorization as a Small Island State. While Cyprus has graduated from the Small Island Developing State (SIDS) category, where 28% of developing countries are located, there may be lessons from a conflict perspective that Cyprus could share ? or benefit from. The literature suggests that conflicts in small islands, with a few notable exceptions (e.g. Fiji, Guinea-Bissau, Grenada), tend not to escalate into full-blown violence but demonstrate volcanic features ? simmering or lying latent for extended periods with only the occasional eruption (e.g. Guyana, Maldives). These countries are highly vulnerable to external shocks, particularly economic and environmental, with consequential increases in the levels of conflict. At the same time, economic development tends to reduce the potency of social conflict (Trinidad and Tobago, Cyprus) and provide the space through which to address root causes ? although the urgency of the task also diminishes as economies grow, unless that growth is noticeably uneven. Further research and document reviews could pursue the features of leadership, the determinants of social change, and reducing group insecurities in small societies. This learning would contribute to the resolution of longer-term, more systemic challenges to peace in Cyprus and other Small Island States, and maybe even beyond.
10 Reach Across the Aisle: A fundamental question arising in peacebuilding programmes is what to do with those who are opposed to the objectives of the programme. To this end, the RPP tool (figure 2, pg. 18) is instructive: at a practical level sufficient support is required for positive changes to the status quo. Identifying the source of that support is an inexact science at best, however. What is more readily calculated is that all peaceful viewpoints have legitimacy in a democracy and, particularly if the negotiations result in reconciliation, Cyprus will need to strengthen its capacity to reconcile differences in opinion. Dialogue and engagement represent important tools with which to address such differences. ACT II is already designed to promote dialogue and engagement but will be challenged in attracting detractors to the ACT purpose. For one, those who are uncomfortable with ACT in one way or another will probably resist being engaged. For another, there may be resistance from ACT partners themselves. Strategies for averting these challenges can be developed using programme processes, such as the Advisory Committee and the Partners Forum. They may include the targeting of key persons and constituents, the development of special communication strategies, the crafting of a guidance note on ?engaging across the aisle?, and the inclusion of others in the activities already underway (such as research dissemination and discussions, youth activities, and cultural heritage).
11 Explore UNDP?s Future Role: Numerous constituents expressed concern at the thought of ACT ceasing operations in 2011, in the context of the reconciliation work that will remain regardless of the outcome of the current negotiations. Scenario planning is already part of the UN?s modus operandi. UNDP is included in that process to some extent but has the additional consideration of the peace and development functions. The arrival of a Peace and Development Advisor (PDA) will be a welcome addition to the UN team as a whole, and hopefully his/her arrival will be prompt, given the rapidly evolving negotiations process. This PDA could take the lead in assessing scenarios and propose for discussion with ACT and UNDP HQ the implications for UNDP?s work and presence in Cyprus. It is recommended that UNDP engage local and international partners to examine options regarding UNDP?s future presence, role, and exit strategies in Cyprus. Such strategies could also benefit from the inputs of partners at some stage, particularly the ACT Advisory Committee and the international partners. Here, a focus on ensuring the continuation of critical peacebuilding work will be uppermost.
1. Recommendation: In our meetings we were struck by the limited awareness regarding the important changes that had or were in the process of being made within ACT. As a first order of business, ACT staffers are urged to reach out to partners and other constituents of the programme to inform them of the changes that have occurred, particularly in terms of focus, inter-communal collaboration and the time horizon. An operational updating for partners will also be useful.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/04/12] [Last Updated: 2011/10/27]

UNDP agrees that a concerted effort should be made by ACT management and staff to inform the communities not necessarily about changes that have occurred but rather, highlighting the main objectives for the next two years. UNDP will also ensure that the ACT team look to other best practices, utilizing existing resources within Communications Office, to formulate ways to effectively communicate with the various stakeholders.

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation: Review of Project Names: ACT is encouraged to work with partners to ensure that project names effectively communicate the underlying thrust of the project.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/10/27] [Last Updated: 2011/10/27]

UNDP acknowledges the recommendation and ACT project team will review its project names in the future. For the current projects, ACT has developed a communication strategy which already publicized the projects and their objectives. The effect of the name will be taken into consideration in future projects.

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation: Review Project RRFs: While we were mostly impressed with the Results and Resources Frameworks for the projects, particularly the indicators, baselines and their measureability, we were not so convinced in a couple of cases, such as Cyprus 2015 (the outcome indicators are not necessarily symptomatic of the outcome, baselines not indicated) and Community Media (baselines not indicated). We recommend a thorough review of the RRF?s and adjustments that would emphasise both output and outcome indicators.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/10/27]

UNDP agrees to discuss with project partners the need to review the project RRFs. ACT will work with partners in defining the main outcome indicators including baselines and outputs.

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation: -Establish an informal advisory group: We met several ACT partners who are capable of contributing more than project implementation to the goal of the programme. These partners have a vision of a reconciled Cyprus, commitment, passion and a keen sense of how to get things done in Cyprus. We recommend that these ?reconciliation champions? be brought together into an informal ACT advisory group that could advise on both broader strategic issues (e.g. new initiatives and political analysis) as well as tactical considerations (e.g. managing officialdom and operational problem solving). -Establish a Partners Forum: To increase synergies and impact, it is proposed that a mechanism be established where programme partners are routinely engaged. This mechanism should also permit the easy dissemination of information (e.g. a newsletter or an e-mail distribution list) and provide opportunities for collaborative working relations across projects (e.g. discussion groups, joint activities).
Management Response: [Added: 2011/10/27]

Efforts will be taken to capitalize on the expertise of programme partners and look for synergies across the projects. ACT will facilitate an advisory group but it is suggested that this be more formal in the sense that discussions/decisions can be captured and shared amongst partners as well as the wider project teams. This is important for knowledge management and ensuring that the main points are captured and archived for the benefit of civil society and can be utilized as a resource once UNDP-ACT exits from Cyprus.

Key Actions:

5. Recommendation: Adjust Management and Project Architecture: The preceding recommendations, if implemented, would be assisted by a graphical adjustment of the ACT management and project architecture. These could lead the process of implementing the Advisory Committee and the Partners Forum. The following two graphics are illustrative of what the adjusted architecture might look like.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/10/27] [Last Updated: 2011/10/27]

UNDP takes note of the proposed ACT graphic management architecture to facilitate the advisory committee and the partner?s forum and also recognizes that any adjustments to the management and/or project architecture would be contingent to available resources.

Key Actions:

6. Recommendation: Establish a Civil Society Agenda on Reconciliation: As it currently stands, ACT has increased its focus considerably by reducing the number of projects and concentrating partners into networks. At the same time, however, there is no broader or formal civil society agenda viz. the negotiations: the linkages between civil society groups are all through the ACT programme (as per figures 3 and 4 above), which represents a threat to sustainability. ACT might consider engaging the Advisory Committee, if formed, on the best way of going about the establishment of this agenda. While some have complained that civil society has no explicit role in the negotiations, the authorities agree that civil society has a role to play in reconciliation. Enough is publicly known about the issues being grappled with in the talks (e.g. land ownership, economic integration), as well as the confidence-building measures already agreed, for civil society to develop an agenda without a formal invitation to do so. The success of ACT II will be driven mainly by the leaders of partner organizations? As with vital assets anywhere, these leaders must be protected and preserved. An additional opportunity, if this recommendation is pursued, will be to engage those members of civil society not currently part of ACT, including mass-based organizations, women?s groups and members of the Diaspora.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/10/27]

UNDP accepts the recommendation and agrees that ACT could use the Partner Advisory Committee as a platform to facilitate a civil society agenda on reconciliation. Existing expertise and resources within ACT and its implementing partners can help in pulling together some of the key points that unite all the initiatives funded under the ACT programme.

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation: Strengthen Leaders: The success of ACT II will be driven mainly by the leaders of partner organisations, such as have been described earlier in recommendation iv. As with vital assets anywhere, these leaders must be protected and preserved, particularly so that they can withstand operational, social and political pressures. ACT could usefully consider ways of engaging leaders with a view to developing and sustaining their capacities. The Advisory Committee would be an obvious double-benefit mechanism for both receiving from and giving to the leaders. Thought could also be given to dedicated peer sessions, perhaps on the side of Partner Forums or on an ad hoc basis, as well as formal leadership strengthening workshops ? such as might be possible in collaboration with the EU leadership support activity through the Council of Europe.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/10/27]

UNDP accepts the recommendation and ACT will start looking into the feasibility of this, existing and upcoming opportunities and will also encourage this at the project level.

Key Actions:

8. Recommendation: Support ACT Team: A similar case can be made for ACT staff as for civil society leaders. The Team is a vital asset from whom steady outputs are required for the success of the programme. Mechanisms for dealing with the stresses arising from operational, social and political pressures, particularly for local staff, have been used in the past and should be maintained, even deepened, going forward. Social activities, empathetic management, professional development, and group retreats all require resources, particularly time, but the benefits are likely worth it. Also, given the demonstrated expertise of ACT staff, consideration could be given to sharing staff and their experiences with other UNDP peace programmes through exchanges and temporary assignments, to mutual benefit.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/10/27]

UNDP accepts the recommendation and ACT will start looking into the feasibility of this, existing and upcoming opportunities and can also encourage specific, individual professional development plans for local staff.

Key Actions:

9. Recommendation: Extract and Share Good Practices: The cutting-edge nature of ACT II and its transition processes from ACT I will aid other peacebuilders around the world. The efforts to distill and capture the lessons from Cyprus should be deepened as soon as the initial flurry of ACT II activities are well underway and space for introspection is available. The point was made, and it is taken, that the lesson-learning process ought to simultaneously contribute to the strengthening of practice in Cyprus. To this end, consideration could be given to using mechanisms such as the Partners Forum to review experiences and codify some of the learning, using techniques that are as much ?celebratory? as they are ?extractive.? Feeding knowledge products back to Cypriots will also strengthen future local practice in the same way, perhaps even moreso, as it would an overseas audience. Another potentially rich vein of learning to mine relates to Cyprus? categorization as a Small Island State. While Cyprus has graduated from the Small Island Developing State (SIDS) category, where 28% of developing countries are located, there may be lessons from a conflict perspective that Cyprus could share ? or benefit from. The literature suggests that conflicts in small islands, with a few notable exceptions (e.g. Fiji, Guinea-Bissau, Grenada), tend not to escalate into full-blown violence but demonstrate volcanic features ? simmering or lying latent for extended periods with only the occasional eruption (e.g. Guyana, Maldives). These countries are highly vulnerable to external shocks, particularly economic and environmental, with consequential increases in the levels of conflict. At the same time, economic development tends to reduce the potency of social conflict (Trinidad and Tobago, Cyprus) and provide the space through which to address root causes ? although the urgency of the task also diminishes as economies grow, unless that growth is noticeably uneven. Further research and document reviews could pursue the features of leadership, the determinants of social change, and reducing group insecurities in small societies. This learning would contribute to the resolution of longer-term, more systemic challenges to peace in Cyprus and other Small Island States, and maybe even beyond.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/10/27]

UNDP accepts the recommendation and action is already being taken through ACT III to share the good practices and experience with local partners. ACT will request the support of RBEC (BRC and HQ) to begin a process for extracting best practices and codifying knowledge products in the area of peacebuilding. Opportunities will be sought for sharing best practice with other UNDP programmes. Reaching people outside the groups that are already engaged in ACT initiatives is crucial. Current best practice in this area at the project level must be shared with other projects immediately.

Key Actions:

10. Recommendation: Reach Across the Aisle: A fundamental question arising in peacebuilding programmes is what to do with those who are opposed to the objectives of the programme. To this end, the RPP tool (figure 2, pg. 18) is instructive: at a practical level sufficient support is required for positive changes to the status quo. Identifying the source of that support is an inexact science at best, however. What is more readily calculated is that all peaceful viewpoints have legitimacy in a democracy and, particularly if the negotiations result in reconciliation, Cyprus will need to strengthen its capacity to reconcile differences in opinion. Dialogue and engagement represent important tools with which to address such differences. ACT II is already designed to promote dialogue and engagement but will be challenged in attracting detractors to the ACT purpose. For one, those who are uncomfortable with ACT in one way or another will probably resist being engaged. For another, there may be resistance from ACT partners themselves. Strategies for averting these challenges can be developed using programme processes, such as the Advisory Committee and the Partners Forum. They may include the targeting of key persons and constituents, the development of special communication strategies, the crafting of a guidance note on ?engaging across the aisle?, and the inclusion of others in the activities already underway (such as research dissemination and discussions, youth activities, and cultural heritage).
Management Response: [Added: 2011/10/27]

UNDP accepts the recommendation and ACT will ensure that Communication efforts be expanded to engage the wider public, including local and international partners in a constant dialogue on ACT accomplishments. The current communication strategies will be reviewed.

Key Actions:

11. Recommendation: Explore UNDP?s Future Role: Numerous constituents expressed concern at the thought of ACT ceasing operations in 2011, in the context of the reconciliation work that will remain regardless of the outcome of the current negotiations. Scenario planning is already part of the UN?s modus operandi. UNDP is included in that process to some extent but has the additional consideration of the peace and development functions. The arrival of a Peace and Development Advisor (PDA) will be a welcome addition to the UN team as a whole, and hopefully his/her arrival will be prompt, given the rapidly evolving negotiations process. This PDA could take the lead in assessing scenarios and propose for discussion with ACT and UNDP HQ the implications for UNDP?s work and presence in Cyprus. It is recommended that UNDP engage local and international partners to examine options regarding UNDP?s future presence, role, and exit strategies in Cyprus. Such strategies could also benefit from the inputs of partners at some stage, particularly the ACT Advisory Committee and the international partners. Here, a focus on ensuring the continuation of critical peacebuilding work will be uppermost.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/10/27]

UNDP accepts the recommendation. The next 2 years will be a critical time for ACT to bolster its efforts with the local communities, including the authorities. Regular debriefing and information exchange with the authorities is important. As such, UNDP is working with different partners to secure the appointment of a PDA and to provide support for future planning and scenario options.

Key Actions:

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