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WDR 2011’s final stretch

Sarah Cliffe's picture

Sarah Cliffe at WDR Advisory Council in Beijing

The WDR team is in high gear. As the data collection, analysis and research phase of the WDR comes to an end, we have just held our latest round of consultations with our Advisory Council, which met in Beijing, and a session with Middle-East experts in Beirut. 


At the Beijing meeting, Bob Zoellick, who chaired the opening session, spoke of his desire for a report that goes beyond the conceptual and analytical work of previous WDRs – one that provides practical guidance for development action that will make a difference on the ground. 


In Beijing and Beirut our interlocutors supported the WDR’s focus on the links between conflict and organized crime, and the need to combine political, security and developmental measures to restore confidence in the short-term and transform institutions to prevent repeated cycles of violence in the longer-term. 


They want a WDR that pushes the envelope in addressing difficult issues, and offers concrete and practical approaches. 


Issues raised included the need to strengthen global and regional incentives to respect the rule of law and combat corruption and trafficking, provide faster procedures for international support in times of crisis, sustain support to national institution-building, and fill gaps in supporting the criminal justice system and employment creation.


Time and again, we are asked to tell it like it is – to go beyond academic language and analysis so that we can communicate what we have learned over the past 12 months in a way that people can understand and act on.


We face an exciting challenge in the next few months to turn the research and analysis into an agenda for action. 


From the beginning of the WDR, we have argued that this subject could not be covered by relying on academic research and the usual round of consultations with policy makers alone: much of the knowledge on approaches is held in the minds of national reformers. 


This WDR has therefore been on a longer timetable than usual, to allow for extensive consultations in countries affected with violence and with our partners in the UN and regional institutions.   


The complexity of our topic, which ranges from economics to diplomatic, political and security issues, meant reaching out more than ever before. The report will be finalized in print before the Bank’s Spring meetings in April, some two months later than originally planned.


Inside the institution there is huge energy around these issues. We have taken advantage by drawing advice and input from dozens of country teams and sector units, and welcoming record numbers of staff to our brown bag lunches on specific subject issues. 


As we finalize the recommendations before the report goes to the Bank’s Board for review at the end of the year, we will ensure that the process continues to be an inclusive one, tapping the knowledge of our colleagues around the Bank and working closely with external partners. 


In the meantime, we will soon be posting on our website a wealth of new data related to conflict, which will allow researchers and policy groups to run their own analysis using the same data collected and used for the WDR.


The new site will also provide a pre-release platform for background papers, interviews with our authors and the Advisory Council, and some extraordinary video images that capture the reality of life in conflict-affected places for ordinary people.


Submitted by Tim Symonds on
Key words: problems of jurisdiction/nature of evidence/memory in war crimes/statute of limitations/witness perspectives/International Criminal Court/law and ethics/law and culture/law and politics/harmonising legal definitions One of the speakers, Lesley Abdela, will address whether UN Security Council resolutions 1325/1820/1880 could be instruments to counter the horse-trading of justice where impunity is on the negotiating table over crimes committed against women and girls in Asia’s conflict zones like Nepal, Aceh, Timor Leste, or Africa’s - Darfur, Liberia, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Uganda. Text of UNSCR1325 at Justice? – Whose Justice? Punishment, Mediation or Reconciliation? 2nd Biennial War Crimes Conference 3-5 March 2011 - Institute of Advanced Legal Studies London An initiative between SOLON, the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies University of London and the Centre for Contemporary British History KCL Conference enquiries [email protected] or [email protected] Speakers include Lesley Abdela (; Jose Pablo Baraybar (EPAF, Peru); David Fraser (Nottingham U); Cissa Wa Numbe (UNA-DCR); Silke Studzinsky (ECCC, Cambodia); Szymon Janczarek (ECHR Poland); Adrawa Lawrence Dulu (Development Peace); Kris Wetherholt (HMF); Michael Kandiah ([email protected]); Shirley Randell (Kigali U, Rwanda: This conference is an initiative between SOLON, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and the Centre for Contemporary British History to explore themes surrounding judicial roles and responses to war crimes (broadly construed)– past, present and future – and also responses to such initiatives from victims/victors, interested agencies and commentators, including the UN, NATO and various local, regional and international NGOs. Does the history of such prosecutions indicate they should simply expose/reveal or must they always punish? What is the role of mediation in the interests of revelations of ‘truth’, and what impact can strategies for reconciliation have? As well as papers, there will be workshop sessions aimed at developing strategies to heighten awareness for practitioners and Media professionals, or engaging with them. Particularly welcome are suggestions for round tables which address the ways in which a fruitful dialogue between academics, practitioners and professionals including those working within the Media in these fields. Developments in areas like forensic anthropology now enable much more information about war crimes to be presented publicly, including identities of victims and perpetrators. How should such witness testimony be managed within the legal process? Should it stop short of prosecution? What of the legal tensions surrounding prosecutions for acts which, in terms of an indigenous legal system were in fact lawful – what is the ethical or moral basis for war crimes prosecutions on that basis? The chronological dimensions present another set of dilemmas, practical and moral. Should there be an internationally-accepted statute of limitations? Prosecutions for WW2 war crimes are still ongoing, if now rare; when does it (ever?) cease to be practical or useful, in terms of successful post-conflict reconstruction to pursue war crimes prosecutions? Twenty, thirty, fifty years? A particular focus will be on the International Criminal Court, with its recent extraordinarily proactive stance towards the management of war crimes prosecutions and issue of an international arrest warrant against a Head of State. Numbers of states are not signatories to the ICC, yet the Court’s actions indicate that it is taking on the role of the conscience of the world. Does the future of war crime prosecutions lie solely, or mainly, with the ICC? Is this acceptable, given the lack of universal global support for the ICC? As this is the second Biennial Conference, we are also interested in hearing reports from delegates at the first conference of developments with which they have been associated – hopeful or not – as well as considering regions not yet covered in our debates. Call For Papers Proposals are invited for papers examining a range of related issues (practical, theoretical and experience-based) of around 350 words. Abstracts/enquiries to [email protected] or [email protected] To discuss the conference, contact [email protected] or [email protected] Details, including the programme and the booking form will be available on the SOLON, IALS, and CCBH websites:;; Suggested themes include: • Historical and contemporary considerations of ‘forgetting’ and memory in war crimes. • The implications of the use of national or international courts and tribunals and the problems of jurisdiction. • The role of the media in portraying war crimes, and the rhetoric used. • Witness perspectives: protection, access to courts; financial support; are their voices heard? • Legal issues, eg: the nature of evidence in war crimes trials; questions of jurisdiction; benefits and limitations of doctrinal approaches; strategies for harmonising legal definitions; should grave national or international crimes be time-limited? • Witness perspectives: protection, access to courts; financial support; are their voices heard? • Studies of individual cases and trials. Do prosecutions serve justice? • Theory and war crimes, legal and philosophical perspectives, law and ethics, law and culture, law and politics.

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