Throughout 2010 and 2011, Fair & Sustainable Advisory Services (FSAS) and the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) developed a guide for ICCO’s Conflict Transformation and Democratisation programme on how to facilitate a shared political context analysis. Such an analysis is an inquiry of a group of partners and other relevant stakeholders working on democratisation, into the actors and institutions (political, legal, societal etc.) that shape inequalities, cause rights violations, and produce patterns of exclusion experienced by marginalised groups. It also looks into the various political spaces (invited, claimed, open) where decision-making takes place and the power relations (hidden, visible, invisible) that unfold in these spaces and influence them in a negative way. The aim of the analysis is to identify the root causes of rights violations and marginalisation in a given context and to identify priorities for change, thus providing a solid basis for strategy development. This shared political context analysis will generally be part of a larger trajectory of programme development, in which the findings are validated and followed by strategy development (or strategy revision) and planning workshops. The guide is meant for ICCO programme officers, programme facilitators and others who are involved in the facilitation of strategic cooperation between different actors working on democratisation.
The guide was requested by ICCO after acknowledging the importance of making a good analysis of the structural causes of exclusion, inequality and human rights violations in order to achieve transformative change. In its work on democratisation, ICCO focuses on situations of exclusion, inequality and human rights violations. Its target groups are the most marginalised groups within a given society: those who are excluded from decision making and cannot exercise their legitimate rights and defend their needs. Achieving the kind of transformative change that produces real improvements for marginalised, poor women and men in a given society, requires a strategic focus directed at structural causes, not just symptoms. The guide helps partners and other relevant stakeholders to make such an analysis. It consists of a number of sessions to be carried out in a two and half days workshop, in which plenary work is alternated with group exercises. The methodology proposed helps participants to leave their comfort zone with respect to target groups focus and issues. The methodology also seeks to encourage a shift of focus from (short-term) activities planning towards the development of a vision on (long-term) strategic goals. An important source of inspiration has been the power cube developed by John Gaventa (see: www.powercube.net), which has been adapted for the purpose of this guide.
Draft versions of the guide have been tested in Liberia and Kirgizstan, and the lessons learnt during these workshops have been incorporated in the final version. However, the guide is not intended as a blueprint: like any instrument it is meant to help but should be adapted to the requirements of a specific context where it will be applied. Furthermore, the guide might also change as a consequence of new experiences. In this sense, it should definitely been seen as a ‘living document’!