Finding New Indicators of Safety and Justice in Development

October 5, 2011
by Jenny Li Fowler

Promoting meaningful reform in the justice sector was the focus of a workshop at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) last week (Sept. 29 – 30).

The annual Justice Systems Workshop, convened by the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, draws dozens of government officials, international donors, and civil society leaders. Together, the group designs indicators of justice and safety in developing countries around the world and puts them into the service of justice sector reform locally, nationally, and globally.

Some examples of indicators are police effectiveness, pre-trial detention and police-prosecution coordination. Until recently, most have been conceived in London, Geneva, Paris and New York, but today a growing number of indicators are born in the developing world, thanks in part to the more than 40 participants who met in the Taubman Building late last week.

“Justice and law enforcement are about government power and authority, so when you reform the distribution of power, you can expect resistance and reaction,” said Christopher Stone, Guggenheim professor of the practice of criminal justice and director of the criminal justice program. “That’s why the measurement tools we’re building at this conference are so important. Domestic reformers in and out of government need ways to focus attention and incentivize new practice, just as much as international donors need to be able to see progress over the long term.”

As Sulaiman Bah, the director of public prosecutions in Sierra Leone, pointed out, complex measurement systems can impede progress, “At the end of the day, indicators are not about performance evaluation; they are about leadership.”

The workshop began in 2008 with founding participants from Jamaica, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Since then, Harvard Kennedy School has welcomed participants from Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh and --for the first time this year –Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The government officials who’ve come here from the Global South are experts in their own right, and they push back hard when they think that some new global indicator is masking a power play,” said Stone.

The goal of the workshop is to equip governments and civil society organizations with the skills and experience to design their own indicators, routinely assess them and use them for the betterment of the justice sector.

Keith Krause, program director for the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, which publishes an annual report on the “global burden of armed violence, commented that, “the conference at Harvard Kennedy School affords an annual opportunity to share challenges and successes across countries and to demonstrate to donor agencies the distinct value of domestically designed and produced indicators.”

The September meetings at HKS are part of a larger program on indicators supported by the UK Department for International Development and by Australia’s AusAID.

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Measuring the Performance of Criminal Justice Systems

China: Empirical Research & Criminal Justice Policy Reform

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workshop panelists

Forum panelists (from L to R): Todd Foglesong (moderator), senior research associate, Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management; Olayinka Creighton-Randall, coodinator, Justice Sector Coordination Office Sierra Leone; Norman Heywood, senior superintendent, Research Planning Legal Services Branch; Ade Ipaye, attorney general, Lagos State Nigeria; Innocent Chukwuma, executive director, CLEEN Foundation Nigeria.

“The government officials who’ve come here from the Global South are experts in their own right, and they push back hard when they think that some new global indicator is masking a power play,” said Christopher Stone.

participants

The workshop began in 2008 with founding participants from Jamaica, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

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