Meeting Report

I. BackgroundII. Event overview  |  III. Session summaries  |  IV. Moving Forward


Moving Forward: Issues for Action and Immediate Next Steps

The Expert Meeting proved to be a very timely event, providing an important moment in the overall experience of AVMSs/observatories. This section summarizes some of the challenges that were raised during the discussion. The concluding session focused on highlighting key issues related to next steps from this meeting. Participants stressed the importance of events allowing the gathering of experts in order to discuss, share ideas, and serve as a platform for exchange. They emphasized how useful it would be to have the presentations available and noted that they would like to stay in touch with all participants. The following suggestions to share information were highlighted: providing a mailing list, publishing information on the GD website, and creating a practitioners’ network for on the topic of observatories.


Key challenges identified

a. Evidence and Data: collecting, analysing, applying

  • Contemporary initiatives for collecting evidence and generating analysis on conflict, crime and violence rely too often on once-off efforts that are not able to catalyse sustainable changes in how policy and programmes are implemented.
  • To date, most attention has been paid to developing innovative techniques for collecting and generating data on insecurity, violence, crime and conflict, especially in conflict and post-conflict contexts. These techniques include a wide range of surveys on victimization, security and justice based on representative samples, media analysis, and improvements in criminal justice and public health data collection and reporting. Yet much less attention has been focused on: a) how to build sustained and locally-embedded institutional capacity to establish baselines, monitor trends, and collect and disseminate information on policy and programmatic alternatives; and b) how to translate numbers into information that can easily be used and understood to develop and implement relevant policies and programming.
  • Effective interventions require in-depth knowledge and disaggregated information on the specific characteristics of violence and insecurity including spatial, temporal, demographic (age and sex) and further contextual information on both victims and perpetrators (who, where, when), as well as information on the causes and triggers of violence and insecurity (e.g.:  land and resource conflicts, opportunistic criminality, co-factors such as alcohol or illicit trafficking). Such information is often the preserve of different stakeholders in government and civil society, and is seldom brought together to enhance programmes and policies.
  • Building a sustainable evidence base on which to construct effective programmes and policies for violence prevention and reduction is a key element of promoting security and justice. Armed violence monitoring systems, or armed violence observatories, are promising institutional approaches that can enable meeting the promise of “evidence-based policy and programming” by helping to overcome the once-off nature of many contemporary efforts to gather data, information and analysis.


b. Institutional issues

  • AVMS (or 'Observatories') represent a promising approach that is locally-embedded and context sensitive and therefore well placed to break down the silos that often characterize security and justice data efforts.
  • Nevertheless, in order for armed violence observatories to effectively catalyse sustainable changes in how policy and programmes are implemented, they will need to become platforms where not only data on insecurity, violence, crime and conflict is collected, gathered and analysed, but also where their work is disseminated and discussed with state institutions, civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders with the aim of developing and implementing concrete policies and interventions.
  • Armed violence observatories face the additional challenge of building and sustaining over time (with financial, technical and human resources) the necessary locally-embedded institutional capacity for meeting the above noted evidence and data requirements of the generation of context relevant information on policy and programme alternatives.
  • There remains a terminological challenge. The definition of “observatory” remains somewhat problematic, with various actors using the term, but often meaning different things, with implications for outcomes. Further detailed discussion about this issue is needed.


c. Elements of an agenda for AVMS-related work and research

  • An effort is needed to map existing AVMS models in order to develop a clear understanding of ‘what works’. This mapping exercise should contribute to comparing and contrasting the different models, in particular their working context, institutional design, innovative potential, and resource requirements.
  • Furthermore, such an exercise should also be able to provide an assessment of the relative effectiveness of different models, with attention to their multi-stakeholder and open platform nature, their effectiveness at catalysing programming and their capacity to analyse and transform data into relevant information.
  • In conjunction with the mapping exercise, the experiences of armed violence Observatories should be better documented and shared, especially on issues such as consultation and participation as a tool for creating multi-stakeholder and open platforms.
  •  Technical tools (on data collection and analysis) as well as capacity –building packages should be made available within the framework of long-term partnerships between AVMS/observatories and external actors. These partnerships have the potential to attract considerable attention for South – South cooperation and/or cooperation between Southern partners and external cooperation agencies.
  • Developing a “network” of observatories and enhanced capacities, such as shared mailing lists and publication information through web-sites, could assist strengthening the contributions of armed violence observatories. In addition, further such events as this Expert Meeting would serve as useful platforms for exchange of experience and learning.



Immediate follow-up actions being undertaken by the SAS

The SAS has developed an online survey for AVMS. Data collected from this survey will complement substantive outcomes from the meeting in order to develop a more comprehensive publication, in the form of a working paper aimed at advancing the research agenda on violence observatories. The survey will provide an update to the 2011 work on AVMS by the Survey and build a deeper knowledge on how AVMS operate. This paper would provide policy recommendations, with particular regard to quality and sustainability issues, to be shared at the Regional Review Conferences of the Geneva Declaration in 2014. In parallel, the SAS is working on a research paper on ‘what works’ in establishing armed violence monitoring institutions. This paper will collect practitionners experiences and lessons learned in developing and sustaining AVMS. Finally, the Survey is continuing to develop its own capacities to deliver training packages and coaching for existing and developing AVMS in Central America and Asia.