Strengthening transitional justice processes in Burundi
The project was related to the establishment in Burundi of a National Consultation Steering Committee (NCSC) made up of government, UN and civil society representatives and tasked with addressing issues of national reconciliation and accountability for past large-scale human rights violations. The overall goal of the project was “to help the NCSC to achieve its mandate and promote transitional justice”
Lessons from Project
There was no explicit commitment on the part of the partners to achieving the project’s objective and results – as opposed to implementing the activities – and no formal agreement on operational standards. A formal Memorandum of Understanding between the three partners would have helped ensure more consistent implementation and follow-up of the activities regarding transitional justice in Burundi.
Although it foresaw the possibility of politically motivated delays, the project had little in place in the way of mitigation. The strategy in relation to institutional stakeholders in Burundi was not fully developed – for example there was no attempt to formalize and set an agreed framework for the project’s support and technical advice to the National Consultation Steering Committee.
The project could most probably have been more efficient if it had been more closely managed by the grantee’s office in South Africa. Its greater involvement would have enhanced the value of the project in the eyes of implementing partners and provided valuable assistance to the staff working on Burundi.
The project strategy did not fully consider how the grantee’s intervention would be received by government stakeholders. The grantee had built a positive record with civil society and the UN mission based on earlier training and technical advice and on the grantee’s international credibility. However they did not have a similar record with the government officials that were to lead the National Consultation Steering Committee and its technical advisory team. The credibility that the grantee built with the police through the implementation of the census project did not translate into an open door at the National Consultation Steering Committee.
While the main project objective was to help build the capacity of transitional justice mechanisms, there was little analysis in the project document of the kind of capacity that needed building in Burundi. The three project outcomes offered only general guidance on this point, prioritizing inclusiveness, gender sensitivity and victims’ concerns, but not explicitly translating these priorities into specific competencies or skills that needed developing at other institutional levels.
Victims’ groups were established as a direct result of the project – for example groups of women who suffered from politically motivated sexual violence and survivors of the 1972 killings in Burundi.
The project created a critical mass of well-trained people, who in turn helped civil society, government and international organizations to increase their work on transitional justice in Burundi.
Many of the professionals trained by the grantee before and during the project period have subsequently taken an active part in transitional justice related work in civil society, international organizations, the media and sometimes in state institutions in Burundi. Many representatives working on transitional justice and met by the evaluators had been trained by the grantee, and had used the skills they acquired to develop projects on behalf of their respective NGOs.