The Institute for Integrated Transitions
In policy circles, it is now treated as self-evident that the paramount priority in a transition is not democracy, development, rule of law or security, but the transition as a whole. Policymakers increasingly recognise that failure in one area can impact others: development economists grasp that unchecked corruption threatens growth; democracy experts acknowledge that elections can trigger violence; military advisors know that ex-combatants’ reintegration depends on job creation; and advocates of criminal justice accept that high-profile trials can sometimes have the consequence of triggering political instability.
However, the central question of how to sequence and integrate these different dimensions is left unanswered. That is a serious problem, since what national actors require – beyond guidance about the many important bits and pieces – is guidance on the macro level where priorities get set. The same is true for multilateral agencies and donor states that, when establishing country strategies, require analysis not only of the pieces but of the whole. This troubling gap – which has been recognised in a wide range of policy documents produced in recent years by the UN, the World Bank, the OECD and bilateral aid agencies – needs to be urgently addressed in order to maximise the windows of opportunity created by transitional moments that arise in fragile and conflict-affected states.
Based in Barcelona and currently in its startup phase with core support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Open Society Foundations, Compton Foundation and Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, IFIT aims to help fill this gap. Its core business will be to consider all, and not only some, of the essential policy elements for successful transition; it will be explicitly mandated to examine and advise on linkages between those elements in the context of specific transitions; it will enjoy operational independence and rapid-response capacity; and it will house a permanent “crack team” of transition experts who, working with field-based country managers and a network of external partners, will offer customised advice and support to domestically-led transitions. The team will comprise renowned expert-practitioners from each of the main areas of policymaking relevant to successful transition: democracy, development, rule of law and security.
Through its global work, IFIT will aim to develop an institutional knowledge and body of research that can help make possible the more evidence-based approaches at integration that global policymakers have long sought.