Syria: SLO Strategy Design, Implementation Planning, Programme Management.
Minerva staff worked for a Western government to develop and manage programmes aimed at helping to resolve the conflict in Syria through fostering co-operation with and between communities across the Syria-Turkey border.
As part of its wider conflict resolution goals, the client sought to engage with a spectrum of difficult-to-reach Syrian actors in order to influence them in shaping a durable peace.
The client had ample experience in forging formal diplomatic links with senior officials of Syrian opposition groups and some understanding of how to engage with unofficial but influential civil society actors. However, they had little awareness of, or ability to tap into, the indigenous resources and local actors inside Syria that were critical to ensuring successful and sustainable reconciliation took place at grassroots level. The acceptance by these affected stakeholders of agreements made amongst senior politicians, officials and civil society leaders can endow such intra-elite political settlements with the degree of wider legitimacy necessary to ensure peace is embedded deeply within society.
Specialist Minerva advice and hands-on involvement was therefore sought because of our previous success in engaging with and fostering interaction, tolerance and understanding between mutually antagonistic communities, thereby delivering our clients a social licence to operate alongside and amongst them.
Minerva staff first built up a detailed understanding of the stakeholders and local politics in the client’s area of interest. When incorporated into Minerva’s planning methodology, along with client goals, risk appetite and other factors, this revealed several potential courses of action likely to foster better relationships between various Syrian groups; and facilitated strategy design around the course of action chosen by the client.
Once strategy had been selected and designed, Minerva staff helped the client plan the delivery programme, developing concept notes, business cases and tender documents to enable the contracting and direction of local implementing partners.
A Minerva advisor then acted as programme manager, co-ordinating with the client’s own programme team to ensure the implementing partners delivered the programme correctly, completely and as quickly as possible.
Whilst the impact of the client’s wider policy towards Syria is not yet evident, Minerva’s contribution enabled the client successfully to engage with and influence a broad swathe of Syrian society that had previously been beyond its reach. This has given the client greater capability to shape a complex conflict and ultimately to move it towards a more peaceful end state.