UGANDA MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE
The Role of Research Institutions in Advancing Humanitarian Interventions in Conflict Zones
A Case Study of Forcier Consulting Firm, South Sudan
Taban Phillip Otto
Reg. No: 17/DME/01/KLA/DL/0007
Bsc. Information Communication and Technology (Gulu),
Distance Learning Department
PSG Diploma in Project Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)
Research Methods Course Module
Submitted, Jan 2018
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
This chapter will focus on the introduction of the topic, the background to the study, statement of the problem, research objectives, research questions, scope of the study, significance of the study and the conceptual framework.
Humanitarian interventions are now an essential component of African conflicts. Despite the criticisms of observers of African affairs that the international community is unwilling to engage the continent in meaningful ways, it is hard to imagine an inter- or intra-state conflict anywhere that is not shaped in part by the presence of peacekeepers, emergency relief or development operations, or by the possibility of such a presence (Hoffman, 2004). Intervention efforts in Africa are often hampered by habitual suspicion on the part of many African states. This is mostly due to their bad experiences with colonialism. However, as many African states lack adequate political or military capacity to guarantee their sovereignty and independence, they continually rely on international support (Samkange, 2002). The African continent stands at a major cross-road where there is unanimous agreement that atrocities such as the 1994 Rwanda genocide and intra-state wars like Liberia, Sierra Leone and Burundi must be prevented from future re-occurrence (Ekiyor, 2007).
South Sudan emerged in 2011 as the world’s newest country, and one of its least developed. After almost 40 years of civil war between the Sudan government and Southern insurgents, Southern Sudanese voted in January 2011 referendum to secede from Sudan, Just like many countries before it’s born of civil war. More than 2.5 million people were killed in the civil war and some 4.5 million were displaced. South Sudan was devastated by the conflict, which hindered the development of basic infrastructure, human capital, and formal civilian institutions (Blanchard, 2016). What is both different and depressing, though, is that even after gaining independence and internationally recognized statehood, South Sudan, as a result of tribal and political conflict, is a country in name only (Knopf, 2016). Massive, chronic humanitarian needs persisted after independence, despite abundant natural resources, including oil fields from which Sudan had generated 75% of its oil production until separation (Blanchard, 2016). Civil war officially broke out in December 2013, sparked by political conflict between President Salva Kiir and then First Vice President Riek Machar. The political dispute that triggered the crisis was not based on ethnic identity, but it overlapped with pre-existing ethnic and political grievances, sparking armed clashes and targeted ethnic killings in the capital, Juba, and then beyond. President Salva Kiir accused his former vice president, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup, a charge Machar continues to deny (Blanchard, 2016). Hundreds of civilians died in ensuing attacks reportedly targeting Machar’s ethnic group, the Nuer, in Juba in the first days of the conflict; revenge attacks by Nuer against Kiir’s ethnic group, the Dinka, followed, and the retaliatory violence spread. Machar, with the support of several senior Nuer military commanders, subsequently declared a rebellion (Blanchard, 2016). After years of fighting between their political factions and Dinka and Nuer tribes, Kiir and Machar agreed to reinstate a power-sharing agreement in August 2015 (Knopf, 2016). The agreement facilitated Machar’s return to Juba in April 2016 and the subsequent formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU). Less than a year later, in July 8, 2016 when fighting again broke out between Kiir’s and Machar’s during a press conference help by the two leaders in Juba. Machar fled the city for the second time, leading to the de facto collapse of the transitional government, escalating violence that could spiral into genocide, and a worsening of the threat to regional security (Knopf, 2016). The agreement collapsed, and with it any trace of peace or political order. Not surprisingly, the humanitarian situation is bad as tens of thousands have died and more than two million men, women, and children have been displaced.
South Sudan’s development and humanitarian needs are massive, and the current conflict is one the country cannot afford. South Sudan has the world’s highest rates of population growth and maternal mortality, less than 30% of the population is literate and less than 200 miles of paved roads despite the abundant natural resources (Blanchard, 2016). South Sudan, alongside Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, is currently classified by the United Nations as one of four “Level 3” (the highest level) humanitarian emergencies in the world, and the only one in Africa (Blanchard, 2016). More than one in five people in South Sudan have been forced to flee their homes in the past 22 months including 1.66 million internally displaced people (with 53.4 per cent estimated to be children) and nearly 644,900 refugees in neighbouring countries (UNOCHA, 2016). Some 185,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have sought refuge in UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites, while around 90 per cent of IDPs are on the run or sheltering outside PoC sites (UNOCHA, 2016). The international community continues to mobilize diplomatic, humanitarian, and peacekeeping resources to protect civilians, respond to needs, and bring an end to the conflict. The region, under the auspices of IGAD, has led the effort to mediate between the warring parties, with the support of the AU, the U.N. Security Council, and international partners (Blanchard, 2016).
Humanitarian actors have spent great sums of money in South Sudan over the last three years to address overwhelming humanitarian needs. According to OCHA Financial Tracking Services (OCHA, 2017), out of $1.8 billion requested for humanitarian assistance in South Sudan for the year 2014, $1.6 billion (89 percent) was funded; $1.6 billion was requested in 2015 and $1.1 billion (69 percent) was funded; $1.3 billion requested in 2016 and $1.2 billion (92 percent) was funded and another $1.6 billion was requested for 2017, of which $1.1 billion (69 percent) is funded to date.
However and as noted, millions of South Sudanese still require urgent humanitarian assistance and protection in 2017 (OCHA, South Sudan Humanitarian Fund – Annual Report, 2016), after, as noted, multi-annual and large scale assistance. With the slowly falling donor funding (donor fatigue, as it is known), the need to review strategies employed in addressing humanitarian needs becomes paramount. The discussions of a high level panel on Humanitarian Financing (published in OCHA, 2016) and research studies (Gray, 1989) recommend working in partnership as one of the solutions to maximising the scarce resources to produce enhanced results. Partnership theories and practices do suggest specific approaches to working in partnership with local actors (including research institutions).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
To regard humanitarian crises as threats to regional stability means to acknowledge that there are no purely humanitarian problems (Vogel, 1996). In order to defeat humanitarian crises, there is need to prioritize and enhanced efforts to address the root causes of conflicts. It is in that process that the role of research institutions could be more useful. During the Dec 2013 and July 2016 humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, the only humanitarian presence in the country was a handful of NGOs. The US and all other nations had evacuated their personnel, diplomatic and aid missions that time. Only United Nations (UN), International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), South Sudan Red Cross (SSRC) together with few National NGOs (NNGOs) and some very committed South Sudanese were present to feed the hungry and heal the wounded.
What drives the disconnection between research and humanitarian intervention in South Sudan is the born of limited awareness of the existence of research, the capacity of officials to understand the analysis to make policy and the lack of interest in the local research. In South Sudan there is need for non-forcible methods, namely intervention undertaken without military force to alleviate mass human suffering. While research institutions gain more experience working in war zones like in Somalia, DR Congo, South Sudan and Sudan, they are beginning to understand the uses that warring factions make of humanitarian assistance and how not to become dormant participants in that process, thus the need for research before intervention is inevitable.
This research therefore will seek to establish the role of Research in determining whether the evolving situations in war zone line South Sudan meets the threshold to justify humanitarian intervention by regional troops or the international bodies.
1.3 General objective of the study
The objective of the study is to establish the role played by research institutions in increasing the effectiveness of humanitarian interventions in conflict zones. The narratives, practices and processes of Research, conflict and humanitarian intervention cannot be disentangled. They are inter-dependent and feed in to one another.
1.4 Research specific Objectives
1. To determine the role played by research institutions in advancing humanitarian interventions in South Sudan.
2. To measure the effectiveness and reliability of research approaches commonly used in South Sudan
3. To determine the gaps in research on humanitarian crises and interventions in conflict zones
1.5 Research Questions
The thesis is guided by the following four separate but related research questions;
1. What role does research institutions play in influencing humanitarian interventions in conflict zones?
2. How effective and reliable are the research approaches in evaluating humanitarian crises and interventions in South Sudan?
3. What gap is there between research findings and humanitarian interventions in conflict zones?
1.6 Scope of the Study
1.6.1 Conceptual Scope
The study will be limited to roles played by research institutions, the techniques and methods used by research institutes, the gap between research findings and Humanitarian Intervention in Conflict zones.
1.6.2 Geographical Scope
The study will focus on Forcier Consulting Research firm in Juba, South Sudan. This is because Forcier is a research firm operating in South Sudan a conflict zone where there’s need for research in establishing the need for humanitarian intervention.
1.7 Significance of the Study
This study will provide a unique and in-depth analysis of the research and intervention processes and will establish a link between research findings and humanitarian intervention. This is because it is undertaken at a time when South Sudan is engulfed by a civil conflict whose causes remain unclear.
The study will examine the previous humanitarian intervention attempts and highlight how the failure thereof contributed to the current turmoil.
It will also offer specific recommendations for the implementation of future interventions so that the country does not degenerate into conflict again. It is the author’s hope that this study will not be a mere extraction of truths, but it will provide useful information to guide future humanitarian intervention.
The study will increase the knowledge on Research and humanitarian intervention and in addition, future academic research can be based on it.
1.8 The Conceptual Framework
Independent Variable (IV) Dependent Variable (DV))
Source: Researcher’s own generation.
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
This chapter focuses on the theoretical framework of the study and empirical existing literatures about the study variables.
2.1 The role played by research institutions and Humanitarian interventions advancement
Nothing could better dramatize the increasingly important role which research institutions now play in humanitarian relief than their singular presence in South Sudan. Researchers are not only present in every humanitarian emergency, but they are usually in place long before an emergency begins and remain after the crisis fades from the public view. (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010), Reveal that research is a systematic process of collecting, analysing, and interpreting information (data) in order to increase our understanding of a phenomenon about which we are interested or concerned.
William in his article “Research Methods” (Williams, 2007), agrees with (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010) that research process is systematic in that defining the objective, managing the data, and communicating the findings occurs within established frameworks and in accordance with existing guidelines. According to (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010), Mere looking up a few facts and presenting them in a written paper with benefit of references does not constitutes research. Such activity might more realistically be called fact transcription, fact organization, or fact summarization. It is in this background that well established research institution should be given the mandate to dig through the root cause and the possible effect of conflict to the citizens before advancing humanitarian intervention.
The concept of humanitarian intervention here has been looked at from two different dimensions and writers. One is sympathetic to intervention on humanitarian grounds and the other is hostile to the notion of intervention on any grounds whatsoever. According to (Krieg, 2013), the term ‘humanitarian’ describing an intervention aimed at providing relief for individuals in danger. It grants the concept of humanitarian intervention a rather charitable, philanthropic or even altruistic connotation, Whereas (Holzgrefe, 2003) tells us that humanitarian Intervention is the threat or use of force across state borders by a state (or group of states) aimed at preventing or ending widespread and grave violations of the fundamental human rights of individuals other than its own citizens, without the permission of the state within whose territory force is applied. The key aspects of the last definition are related to sovereignty and human rights. Firstly, for an action to be intervention, sovereignty of the state being intervened in must be breached. Secondly, for an intervention to be humanitarian, the desire to address violations of human rights should be the driving force in the intervention decision (Wilson-Roberts, 2000). How could you truly conclude there’s human rights violation without research? There’s need to find out what is perceived normal locally and internationally and find out whether there truly exists violations of human rights to advance humanitarian intervention. These information is readily available in Forcier Consulting, a South Sudan research firm.
South Sudan has multiple levels of weakness in knowledge generation. There is no credible commitment to facilitate knowledge production as evidenced by a lack of funding for research and the reliance on donor support for local institutions (Madut, 2017). There is the lack of qualified researchers; the few available are so under-funded that they often resort to working for NGOs and foreign donor and development agencies. There is no clear commitment to producing a skilled workforce, and the field of knowledge production will most likely remain under-populated by South Sudanese researchers for the foreseeable future. This weakness is linked to the lack of access to computers and information technology. Jok Jok (Madut, 2017) noted that “Access to the Internet, where it exists, is extremely poor, and generally unavailable to most people.”
If at all there’s need to prevent future civil wars, there’s need to dig through the causes of the fear that Humanitarian intervention might become something that great powers manipulate as an excuse for intervention. There is need for Peace and conflict research with the aim of promoting and sustaining peace (Wallensteen, 2011). Base on the destructive nature results of war and violence in South Sudan, this type of research is relevant in advancing Humanitarian intervention.
2.2 Effective research approaches used by research institutions in evaluating humanitarian crises and interventions.
Effectiveness of research approach is intrinsically connected to conflict studies and humanitarian intervention. The conflict studies comprises of a collection of epistemologies and methodologies. Researchers in this area draw on larger number quantitative analysis, narratives, ethnographic studies and rest. It is equally important to realize that there has been a growing emphasis within the field on bridging the gaps between qualitative and quantitative research approaches (Sambanis, 2004).
“In research on or during conflict, ethical issues do not dramatically change but they sharpened and become more difficult to resolve” (Cramer, Hammond and Pottier 2011, 8). In much the same way, the research methods used in conflict zones are qualitatively different, yet require heightened sensitivity to an ever-changing, high stakes context. In conflict zones, as in all field setting, researchers often rely on a mix of qualitative and quantitative research approaches, including participant observation, formal and informal interviews, focus groups, and surveys. Researchers often face problems in the field in relation to their methods, they realize that their intended method does not work in conducting their study is the current setting where they area. In her work with Sudanese refugees in Uganda, Tania Kaiser found it essential to adopt different research approaches and styles depending on the topic and contest of the research (Mazurana, Jacobsen, & Gale, 2013):
Any researcher in the domain of conflict and forced migration studies is aware that the flow of information – who controls it, who possesses it, and who seeks to share and disseminate it is highly charged, contextually specific and always political. Information sharing is never neutral, especially where it can increase or decrease your security, affect your capacity to generate income, and/or raise or lower your prestige in the eyes of your community.
With the rapidly changing environment in which uncertainty, rumour, insecurity, and violence are everywhere, there’s need to take actions hence need for ethnographic research. Rosalind Shaw, who has spent much of her professional life writing and researching in Serial Leone, summarizes the usefulness of ethnographic methods:
In ethnographic research, which typically consists of a combination of participant observation and informal ethnographic interviews, anthropologists and others seek to understand particular process, events, idea and practices in an informant’s own terms rather than ours. This entails building up relationships rather than making a single visit, and spending time in ordinary conversation and interaction, preferably before introducing the more directed form of an interview… what we learn through ethnography thus has more potential to challenge our assumptions often forcing us to unlearn as much as we learn. It is this that makes ethnography such a powerful tool for challenging received wisdom and for understanding events and processes on the ground. ( 2007, 188)
Participant observation, or what one can think of as “seeing and being seen”, involves “getting close to people and making them feel comfortable enough with your presence so that you can observe and record information about their live” (Russell 1995, 136). Seeing and being seen involves spending time where informants live, work, market, eat, and socialize Hanging out and observing gives insight about community power dynamics, allowing researchers to go beyond relying on those who claim to represent a community or who are the first ones to present themselves to researchers. As the filmmaker Herbert writes in her chapter:
“Listening time” is where we truly learn to set aside the things that differentiate one person from another, and to notice, in an organic way, the ways in which we are alike. Transposed to the screen, this identifying with the other operates between the character and the viewer. Understanding how this identification process works keeps us from indulging in sentimentality: for a brief moment, I am that Other.
However spending long periods in the field becoming acquainted and building trust is not always possible in conflict settings because of safety concerns and logistical problems. Also, while single case in-depth studies are an important part of understanding conflict, this kind of research does not facilitate comparative studies – a significant gap in contemporary research on conflict (Dancygier 2010).
Narratives in conflict can be considered frameworks for action and explanation of identity groups in conflict (Ross, 2002). Narratives allow conflicting parties to develop a higher quality of communication, and to create deeper understanding and forms of deconstructing presumptions, biases and stereotypes based on previously learned reified understandings of otherness.
Qualitative research, particularly narrative inquiry certainly is more than an “add-on” to quantitative peace and conflict studies. Quantitative studies will approach topical themes such as worldviews, conflict attitudes, perceptions of “the other”, emotional responses, victim-offender relations, casualties of war, and so forth, by categorizing and quantifying those complex processes of human action, experience and identify formation. A solely quantitative approach when dealing with complex social, psychological and cultural human phenomena leaves the personal meanings attached to human experiences and behaviours unexplored (Finley & Cooper, 2014).
2.3 The gaps in research in finding on humanitarian crises and intervention
What drives the disconnection between research and policy in South Sudan is not only born of limited awareness of the existence of research, the capacity of officials to understand the analysis, or even a lack of interest, but also the accessibility of research. Most senior bureaucrats in National level and state level governments are older, from a generation that is not acquainted with the technologies that have eased access to information for so many people around the world, and Internet connectivity problems in the villages (Madut, 2017). It is also true that the ability and willingness of public officials to use research as a basis for public policy decisions is not a well-established institutional culture. Sometimes officials do not encourage research; many are suspicious about any form of knowledge-gathering and unwilling to share public records, amid concern that the researchers might find something that implicates them in corruption.
The coordination between the research agencies and knowledge producers, and policy-makers. This is partly born of lack of access to publication routes available to other researchers and partly due to what may be described as a “turf war” between the research and policy communities, which leads to wasteful duplication of research effort. Policy-makers do not feel the pulse of the citizenry; there is often no way for senior officials to understand people’s perceptions about corruption, nepotism, growing disparities, the rural-urban divide and other brewing unrest. Stephen Krasner was briefer enough to term it as, ‘organized hypocrisy’ (Krasner, 1999) cited in (Weiss, 2004)