Annual conference Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law, 2016

KPSClogoAnnual Conference 2016 of the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law

Overall theme: Hard Contexts, Hard Choices

Thursday, April 7, 2016, from 8:30 AM til 19:00 PM

Venue: The Hague Institute for Global Justice

Sophialaan 10, The Hague, the Netherlands

Based on a broad international orientation and engagement, the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law (KPSRL) aims to inform The Netherlands development policy and its implementation in fragile and conflict affected settings.

The Platform brings together a network of relevant communities of practice comprising experts, policymakers, practitioners, researchers and the business sector on the topic of security and rule of law in fragile and conflict affected contexts. It provides a meeting space – offline as well as online – and intellectual stimulus grounded in practice, for its network to share experiences, exchange lessons learned and discuss novel insights. This way, it strives to contribute to the evidence base of current policies, the effectiveness of collaboration and programming while simultaneously facilitating the generation of new knowledge.(


We have no more seats available. Consult this link if you want to be added to our waiting list.

This year’s Annual Conference aims to draw on your experience and expertise in setting the Platform’s programmatic and research priorities and seeks to foster innovative approaches to Security & Rule of Law policy, programming and knowledge exchange.

As a member of our network, we welcome your contribution to the set up and program of the conference day. This can be an innovative approach, interesting substantive area of focus or simply a concrete idea or topic to explore further. 


8.30-9.30 | Arrival and registration – Welcome coffee

9.30-10.00 | Welcome remarks

By George Mukundi Wachira

10:00-11:00 | Keynote conversation

A moderated conversation with Simone Filippini, Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahou, Katy Thompson, and Jelte van Wieren. Moderation by Cheryl Frank.

11.00-17:30 | Breakout sessions (coffee & tea provided in breakout locations)

Sessions will run concurrently in blocks so participants have the option to attend several, or just one, and take advantage of the available time to link up with other participants. Space for such exchanges will be catered for.

An overview of confirmed sessions will follow shortly. Please keep an eye on our website.

13.00-14.30 | Lunch break & side event

Space for research consortia & network members to showcase work and publications

17.30-18.15 | Fish bowl closing

18.15 | Drinks

Confirmed speakers & moderators

Simone Filippini, Managing Director of Cordaid

Cheryl Frank, Head of the Transnational Threats and International Crime Division, Institute for Security Studies (ISS), in Pretoria, South Africa

Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahou, Head of International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Secretariat of the Organization for Economic Co-opreation and Development (OECD)

Rob Sijstermans, Training & Research Fellow at The Clingendael Institute

Katy Thompson, Rule of Law, Justice & Security Specialist at United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

George Mukundi Wachira, Head of the African Governance Architecture Secretariat (AGA), Department of Political Affairs, African Union Commission, in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia & Steering Group member of the Platform

Jelte van Wieren, Director of the Stabilitization and Humanitarian Aid Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in The Hague, The Netherlands

Thematic focus

Current global trends such as transnational organized crime, radicalization, unprecedented forced displacement, persistent injustices and pervasive gender-inequalities mark the evolving nature of violent conflict. However, the international community faces difficulties in adjusting its tools for intervention and support accordingly. Goal 16 of the new Sustainable Development Goals ambitiously seeks to ‘Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’. However, the meaning of the SDGs for policy frameworks and programming still remains to be defined to realize their transformative potential. The complexity of violence entrenched in contemporary conflict asks for a critical assessment and, possibly, revision of priorities in security and rule of law policy and programming so as to reach its ambitions. Faced with extremely hard contexts, hard choices need to be made. The Annual Conference of the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law aims to bring to the surface the key features of today’s hard contexts and explore the policy choices that such contexts implicate. Dilemmas between technical support and political change processes will be drawn upon, as well as trade-offs between perceived short-term security needs and sustained processes of inclusive political change and development in order to chart the way forward. More specifically, under the banner of “Hard Contexts, Hard Choices”, the following three main themes will guide the agenda of the Annual Conference.

Theme 1: Which balance to adopt in addressing current and emerging transnational security challenges?

The world is faced with tremendous security challenges, particularly in the MENA region and the Sahel as well as seemingly intractable conflicts in the DRC, CAR, South Sudan and Somalia, related to large-scale transnational organized crime, radicalization and political extremism, trafficking and forced migration. Declining aid budgets and an increasing donor focus on refugee crisis response have implications for the prioritization in humanitarian, security and development interventions as well as the resulting quality and scale of these interventions. Increasing attention is directed towards short-term security needs as perceived by the Western donor community, including border control and counter-terrorism. This occurs to the detriment of responding to underlying causes of conflict and long-term development challenges, the apparent need for sustainable investment in inclusive and just societies as well as a coherent and durable response to the refugee crisis that fully acknowledges the interconnectedness between the refugee crisis, aggressive foreign policies, violent conflict, politicized and/or misspent ODA, and exploitative economics.

Theme 2: Towards more politically transformative rule of law support: working through informal justice systems and challenging state led injustices

Over the past decade, Rule of law support has become an established element of the support package offered to countries in all stages of a conflict cycle, with the aim flitting between either preventing, stopping or dealing with the history of violence and with a main focus on “access to justice” for citizens. Experiences in this field as well as the lessons that can be drawn from the evolution of revolutions and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, have shed light on two important blind spots. First, a much heavier policy focus than what has been the case to date seems to be needed on informal justice mechanisms, as these tend to increase access to justice and are often perceived as more legitimate in the eyes of the local population. Many however perpetuate or exacerbate forms of discrimination and exclusion which need to be grappled with, and flourish due to the shortcomings of the formal State mechanisms themselves. Nevertheless, there have date March, 2016 regarding Draft Agenda Annual Conference 2016 page 3/5 been many studies and pilot programs to address challenges related to informal justice support that now have to be incorporated into formal policy. Second, neither formal, nor informal justice systems are capable of dealing with crimes perpetrated with the complicity of the State, in particular in contexts where institutions serve the interest of those occupying the state. Yet, these are injustices committed by the State that nurture social unrest and conflict. So far, little attention is drawn to this fact, let alone that there are practical entry points for addressing it. The Platform would like to spark a discussion to explore ways to address the blind spot of State injustices.

Theme 3: Innovative approaches to SROL programming: 1) theories of change, 2) strategy testing, 3) existing good practices and how to scale them up, 4) thinking and working politically

In the context of the SDGs and acknowledging the difficulties which are faced in policy and programming, hard choices need to be made. In spite of significant international engagement and funding in fragile and conflict-affected contexts (e.g. Yemen, Tunisia, Burundi, Mali), expected outcomes have not materialized. What went wrong and what are the responsibilities and lessons for programming? How can we move beyond shortcuts in the international community’s response and undertake actions which have a real impact, rather than resorting to interventions which look like they are effective but of which we know they will not be? This requires innovative program design that allows for flexibility in programming and room to adapt to and capitalize on windows of opportunity in ever changing and complex operating environments. Contemporary insights on iterative program design which balance accountability, transparency and impact, while focusing on testing, learning and the incorporation of feedback loops will be taken as a baseline to discuss current challenges for our policy and programming.

Participants can choose from a menu of in-depth, creative and exploratory sessions to discuss issues on the horizon and recent research results, as well as to test existing or experimental methodologies. A marketplace will allow you to present and discover on-going (research) projects, and plenty of room for networking will be available.

Mark your calendar & stay tuned for more details. We hope you’ll join us in The Hague #srolconf #hardchoices.