Consider long-term engagement

Key Finding:  The strongest engagements with a TJ process have been those that foresee a long-term commitment and respond appropriately to evolving civil society needs.

Practical Steps

Overcoming cycles of conflict and atrocity, or building rights-respecting state institutions, takes time and may suffer political setbacks. TJ processes require long-term commitments: documentation of mass crimes needs to be gathered or reconstructed; trials for massive human rights violations take years to complete complex investigations; support for victims, especially those with lingering health and psychological effects, spans decades; reparations are sometimes multigenerational; victims take a long time to come forward; and judicial and social services often have to be (re)built.

"No one is interested in this anymore. Not the donors, not the international community, and definitely not the government here. It's been twenty years since the war, they think, 'How long can trauma last for?' They don't realize that the legacy of violence lasts a long time, and it leaves its impact everywhere in people's lives."

Civil society actor BiH

In spite of these long-term needs, donor agendas, sometimes set in capitals, may shift and leave civil society actors without support at crucial moments, or the wrong type of support/funds at the wrong times. One-year funding cycles in particular are enemies of the sustainability and predictability that is needed to support long-term change. TJ road maps developed during national consultation processes should give at least a preliminary sense for how donors can offer relevant multiyear support. Moreover, TJ should be included in long-term development strategies.

Because TJ processes are multigenerational and progress can slow or face reversals, “donor fatigue” frequently sets in. There are cases when donors have withdrawn all TJ funding—to both state and civil society actors—when the state shows a lack of commitment. This, however, is precisely the moment when civil society action is often most critical to keep pressure on the state to fulfill its responsibilities.

Practical Steps – Plan for the long-term

Make funds ODA compliant.

Long-term support may require large budgets, so engaging the relevant development agency and ensuring that funds are ODA compliant may help unlock funds from countries trying to meet their ODA targets.

Focus on core support.

Consider providing core support that spans several years rather than yearly project support.

Slow and steady is preferable to funding peaks and crashes.

Lower levels of continuous funding are preferable generally to large short-term spikes followed by troughs.

Maintain support in low periods.

Continue support to civil society actors even when—perhaps especially when—frustrations are high with the state’s commitment to TJ; in those moments, civil society mobilization on TJ is critical.

Build CSO capacity.

Make organizational capacity building a part of funding priorities.