Invest in data for evidence and indicators

Key Finding:  There are few instances of donors using baseline studies or indicators to assess how well states are meeting their obligations on TJ, to judge whether civil society actors are playing positive social roles, or to understand how well TJ is meeting the needs of victim groups.

Practical Steps

TJ actors lack data—or easy access to what little data exists. It would be useful, for example, to understand victims’ (and others’) perceptions of the state and of justice before a TJ process begins, to track changes in perceptions as a TJ process unfolds.

"[Our] donor roundtable…really articulated donors' dilemmas when it comes to funding…transitional justice processes… The biggest is demonstrating impact - but also the fact that they are short-term project cycles which funders are tied to, which makes it difficult especially to show [that] impact."

Civil society actor Uganda

One reason for this gap, however, is that data sets are expensive to produce: they require teams of researchers in the field to interview hundreds of people. They can also present risks to the researchers conducting the survey, especially in conflict and post-conflict contexts. Civil society groups may be populated by lawyers and activists, who may lack the social scientific skills to do them well.

There are instances of surveys to assess victim perspectives on justice in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia, Iraq, Côte d’Ivoire, and elsewhere. It is not clear that the results have been used effectively by donors or other TJ actors, despite the surveys being conducted by credible social scientists. Follow-up surveys to assess changes over time are rare. A rare exception is Cambodia, where GIZ and other donors funded a baseline survey in 2008 and a follow-up survey in 2010 (to assess change after the first trial at the ECCC).

Generating data and evidence requires commitment specifically from donors, and developing standardized assessment tools can be a difficult collective process. If donors invest sufficient resources in producing data—and develop a culture of using it—the result would likely be more responsive and relevant programming.

Practical Steps – Invest in data

Invest in population surveys throughout a process.

On the country level, invest in population surveys before the start of a TJ process, and then follow through with periodic surveys as a process unfolds; ensure that these surveys are developed through partnerships between local actors, social scientists, and TJ specialists.

Invest in baseline data.

On the project level, invest money in meaningful baseline studies for longer-term civil society projects; ensure that these studies are conducted in partnership with people who have relevant social scientific skills and that adequate funding exists.

Use TJ road maps as guidelines.

On the country level, track the progress of a TJ process against the road maps set out through national dialogues, policies, or strategies on TJ: Are states making good on their promises to support specific TJ initiatives? Are they progressing in a timely way?