Request for Proposals - Services for Assessing the scope and parameters for Transitional Justice in Somalia (SSFMR-041-C01)

  • Added Date: Friday, 26 February 2021
  • Deadline Date: Thursday, 18 March 2021


The Somalia Stability Fund (SSF) is a multi-donor fund working towards a peaceful, secure, and stable Somalia. It offers Somali stakeholders a source of multi-year funding that can respond to local needs and opportunities.

The Stability Fund aims to contribute to enhancing stability in Somalia through the following programmatic outputs:

  1. Fault-lines for political conflict (FGS-FMS, inter & intra state) are identified and appropriately addressed

  2. Enhanced popular participation in governance, particularly for women and excluded communities

  3. Increased government visibility and community engagement

  4. Reduced community vulnerability to conflict

  5. Throughout 2021, SSF will prioritise three broad areas; sub-national democratisation, district council formation, and reconciliation

SSF invites eligible and qualified entities (โ€œBiddersโ€) to submit proposals in response to this RFP for the Provision of Services for Assessing the scope and parameters for Transitional Justice in Somalia (SSFMR-041-C01)


Post-conflict reconciliation frequently entails a wide array of components. A common aspect of reconciliation is how to address the legacy of violent conflict that has divided societies. Frequently, literature on post conflict reconciliation differentiates dealing with the past into a) truth telling and acknowledgement of the interconnected history of violence that has afflicted communities, b) the implementation of restorative or transitional justice to hold perpetrators accountable while encouraging community cohesion, and c) a mechanism to support reparations for harms perpetrated against individuals and communities.

Documenting the past can serve to disentangle the conflict history of a country, it can help transcend sometimes simplistic narratives that have attributed labels of victim and perpetrator or good versus evil and help build a shared and interconnected understanding of violence. It can help identify the institutions, systems, norms and frameworks that facilitated and influenced violence. However, truth without justice can lead to a pervading sense of impunity and can hinder social healing, forgiveness and inter-communal trust building. Central to any approach will be the need to reflect on what leading reconciliation thinkers, such as John Paul Lederach, calls the paradox of reconciliation, that is the navigation of competing demands of truth, justice and social healing. Reconciliation should facilitate acknowledgement of the past, provide redress but at the same time lay foundations for a common and shared future where the past has been laid to rest.

Different forms of post conflict transitional justice have sought to balance these competing demands for accountability, reparations and restitution while maintaining and supporting the establishment of peace. Individual focussed justice may be retributive in nature and hold a high level of accountability, however it may come with attendant challenges, such as the high level of procedural justice that a post conflict country may not have access to. Individual accountability, especially against political elites who may continue to wield power, may see efforts to undermine and spoil the process. In some cases, the risk of justice and sanction may induce violence such as the killings and disappearances of witnesses. Retributive justice may have institutional policing, prison and justice demands that may not be feasible. Alternatively, too great an emphasis on forgiveness without justice may lead to community-driven retribution against perpetrators. Some models, such as in South Africa promoted truth in return for amnesty with some believing this undermined victimsโ€™ rights. More contemporarily, Colombia has promoted a system whereby truth telling is accompanied with sanctions of community service and jail for those who refuse to acknowledge their roles in violence. Rwanda has seen a combination of individual accountability via an international tribunal coupled with community focussed Gacaca courts and memorialisation. Sierra Leonian Fambul Tok bonfire truth telling, confessions and forgiveness furthermore demonstrate alternative bottom-up approaches too. Truth telling similarly comes with attendant challenges with the risks of re-igniting grievances that mobilised past violence. None, however, will be directly transposable to the Somali context.

It will be further essential to consider Somaliaโ€™s own cultural, religious and social heritage, in so far as existing or historical practices that Somalis may have deployed to address conflict. It would be useful to reflect on whether there are systems and practices that may be contemporarily viable.

While in an ideal world, a victim-centred approach would see those who have experienced violence or suffered harms during the course of a conflict having the greatest voice in identifying and determining the terms of post conflict justice that should be forthcoming. This would see communities and civil society, rather than elites, define the type of justice that could be feasible and help the country move on. The uncomfortable reality is that without the engagement of those who wield political and/or military power, and in particular those that may be affected by a truth telling or post conflict transitional justice initiatives, it is likely that efforts will not be fruitful at best, or risks eliciting further violence or obfuscation in an effort to document Somaliaโ€™s conflict history.

Somalia has established a National Reconciliation Framework (NRF) with multiple strands of work to create a guide to advance the various components that reconciliation will entail. Strand II explicitly acknowledges the importance of dealing with the past. To date, a mechanism has yet to be determined to advance this component. Furthermore, any mechanism would need to be deeply cognisant of the political, social and institutional limitations in Somalia, alongside the conflict risks associated with poorly implemented post-conflict justice mechanisms.

In order to develop options for a mechanism to acknowledge and document the past and to implement a form of justice to hold perpetrators accountable, or to make reparations for past violence, it is necessary for research to assess first the demands for truth telling and justice, and the parameters that post conflict justice and truth telling may need to be cognisant of. Any design will also need to be cognisant of the limitations, challenges and opportunities of the Somali political, social, institutional, judicial and security context.

Research Objective

To conduct research into the types of post conflict truth and justice that could be feasible in Somalia given the social, political and institutional realities.

Approach and Methodology

This research will interrogate the following questions and pursue the following outputs:

ยท Undertake research to identify what kind of documentation of the past and restorative justice may be desired and could be feasible in Somalia. This should consider the needs and demands from communities, and groups who have been subject to violence as part of civil conflict, political leaders, Somali elites and the perspective of perpetrators with whom a truth and justice process may affect.

ยท Research should try to identify the types of issues and harms that a transitional justice and documenting the past process may need to engage with as well as the time frame that it would be subject to.

ยท The research should examine and study locally grounded indigenous truth-telling mechanisms and practices that have been practiced or worked in parts of Somalia in the past and present as well as religious mechanisms that may have traction in Somalia.

ยท Assess the risks and challenges of advancing truth telling and post conflict transitional justice in Somalia, with due cognisance of Somaliaโ€™s political, social and conflict context. Identify recommendations to mitigate these risks.

ยท Reflect on the scope of transitional justice initiatives to support the establishment of or strengthening of the political settlement and advance political reconciliation.

ยท Explore whether there are different types of approaches required when dealing with violence that has taken place at different times or contexts. What is the time frame over which conflict is being considered within a truth telling or transitional justice process? Has that been performed elsewhere? (Iraq?) Could this be needed, wanted, feasible or irrelevant to Somalia?

ยท Drawing on the experiences and approaches implemented in other countries or settings, identify a range of different tools and approaches that have balanced truth, justice and peace in the pursuit of post-conflict reconciliation.

ยท Making explicit reference to Somaliaโ€™s political, social, geographic and institutional context, identify options for truth telling, documentation of the past and transitional justice approaches that could be feasible in Somalia given the countryโ€™s political, economic, social, justice and security sector realities.

ยท The approach should ensure there is space and scope to consult with Somali experts, leading reconciliation advisers and entail a validation of findings with experts.

The research should ensure a gender lens is applied and is cognisant of the differing needs and experiences of women and men. In particular, it should be aware of the challenges and dimensions of documenting SGBV (for men, women and children) and how transitional justice may be applied to SGBV cases given confidentiality and trauma concerns.

The contracted research partner will be expected to work closely with the Somalia Stability Fund Research Manager to develop the research methodology, frame research questions, analyse the Somali context, identify case studies from which to draw upon and perform a joint analysis from which conclusions and recommendations are drawn.

The contracted research partner will be expected to work closely with the Somali Peacebuilding Coordination Unit, INGOs, civil society and relevant Somali government and international stakeholders and coordination bodies that are advancing reconciliation in Somalia to help build analysis and findings that are cognisant of the wider array of initiatives and research being undertaken.

Key Deliverables

i. Literature review โ€“ Objectives and purposes of transitional justice, key considerations of transitional justice and documenting the past, mechanisms to enable documenting the past and transitional justice to have social healing benefits, different approaches that have been evidenced to advance social healing through truth telling and transitional justice, limits and challenges of documenting the past and transitional justice models.

ii. Research plan and research tools.

iii. Final Report โ€“ Analysis of the types of issues that a transitional justice mechanism would need to address; the time frame over which it would need to apply; the constraints and limitations of implementing transitional justice and the gender and social inclusion considerations that would need to be factored in when considering documenting the past and transitional justice; the prospective political and security implications of transitional justice and documenting the past; analysis of approaches from other post-conflict countries and their benefits, limitations, relevance or irrelevance to the Somali context and finally, options for potential future transitional justice and documenting the past designs. Recommendations for future programming and best practice lessons learnt to strengthen durable local reconciliation.

iv. Validation of findings with Somali and international reconciliation experts.

Key Personnel

The following personnel and associated skill sets are required for the task. Additional personnel can be proposed (eg. a Somali advisor or additional field personnel). What is most important is that the team combination adequately covers all necessary knowledge, skills and experience requirements.

Transitional Justice Lead

ยท Higher level academic qualifications (Masters level of equivalent) in the area of political science, peacebuilding and conflict transformation, international development, law, security studies, transitional justice or similar discipline.

ยท Ten years post qualification experience in a lead technical role on transitional justice initiatives in fragile and conflict affected states (FCAS).

ยท Knowledge and awareness of different models of transitional justice and truth telling and how these have been applied in other post conflict settings.

ยท Demonstrable experience and understanding of gender and social inclusion concerns in post conflict transitional justice and documenting the past initiatives.

ยท Demonstrable experience leading, managing and undertaking research in FCAS on issues of peacebuilding, transitional justice and conflict transformation. Evidence of sensitive design and use of tools that are appropriate to context.

ยท Demonstrable experience of exercising political sensitivity when navigating elites, historical violence and contemporary issues of accountability.

Somali Advisor:

ยท A preference for higher level qualification (degree or equivalent) in peacebuilding, international development, law, security studies or similar, although equivalent professional experience may be considered.

ยท Strong understanding of Somaliaโ€™s social, political and conflict history and contemporary social and political context.

ยท Detailed knowledge of Somaliaโ€™s conflict history, protagonists and stakeholders for whom reconciliation and documenting the past may be of relevance or impact.

ยท Demonstrable experience of exercising political sensitivity while performing research in Somalia with elites while ascertaining research data through qualitative research tools.

ยท A minimum of five yearsโ€™ experience working on issues of peacebuilding, conflict transformation, political reconciliation, social reconciliation or similar initiatives.

ยท Experience conducting research and analysis and using qualitative research approaches.

Field researcher:

ยท At least three yearsโ€™ experience of qualitative research on issues of social and political conflict, peacebuilding programming, stabilisation or policing and justice in Somalia.

ยท Experience collecting data through a variety of methods inclusive of key informant interviews, focus group discussions and through different contexts, such as community level data collection or multi-stakeholder forums.

ยท Experience transcribing data from the field.

ยท Experience of, and ability to, conduct research with a wide cross-section of research participants.

Duration of Assignment

The assignment is expected to take approximately 16 weeks, taking into consideration SSF feedback and review timelines. The work should be fully completed no later than the 30th September 2021. As the final research materials will be SSF branded (with full citation/recognition of the authors/research supplier), this timeline should include sufficient time for review, copy-editing, design, typesetting and printing. SSF will reserve the right to request the authors to undertake any necessary revisions.

This vacancy is archived.

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