Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (SCORE) Index
The SCORE index is designed to assess two components of peace in society. The first of these is social cohesion which refers to the quality of coexistence between individuals within their own group and the institutions that surround them. The second component is reconciliation which refers to an on-going effort for establishing peace between groups that were previously engaged in an event of dispute or conflict.
The needs driving the development of the index
Although a lot has been done in order to promote better intergroup relations and, ultimately, coexistence in divided societies, there is a dearth of tools which can adequately analyze the factors which underpin a peaceful society. Scholars as well as practitioners are thus often left in the dark with regards to which of the peace-building activities, interventions, and policies that have come into effect, are in fact efficient and fruitful in promoting positive outcomes for intergroup relations.
The idea of developing the index emerged as a result of a number of observations in Cyprus where a large number of peace-building and reconciliation programs were implemented, particularly with the help of international donors (e.g. UNDP, EU, EEA grants and USAID). The first observation was that although these initiatives were systematically monitored and evaluated, including through trust surveys as well as program- and project-level evaluations, it was impossible to predict or measure the impact that programs were having on the overall reconciliation process. The need to evaluate peace-building programs is not specific to the Cypriot context, and globally the demand to understand the impact of peace building and reconciliation projects have grown as governments and donors seek more effective ways to manage development outcomes. Brounéus (2008), for example makes the following remark that applies to post-conflict societies in general: “We know little of the effect of reconciliation efforts in post-conflict societies [and] claims made of the beneficial relationships between truth, justice, healing, reconciliation, and peace are yet to be studied empirically”.
The second observation is related to the first and it concerns the fact that donors which are providing resources for reconciliation programs often do so without a systematic application of existing theory and evidence. In order to consult with theory as well as systematic evidence before sponsoring and endorsing new peace-building programs, these bodies need to have access to this kind of information. Unfortunately, program evaluation results and information on evidence is scarce, and the theory underlying reconciliation programs can often be hard to access or even comprehend.
Policy-makers, donors and practitioners would therefore benefit from an information-rich knowledge base which would allow them to better integrate current reconciliation theory in their strategic thinking, design and select targeted interventions, predict and measure the impact of the interventions, and disseminate the results and resources in order to increase the effectiveness of reconciliation programs in conflict and post-conflict settings.
The SCORE index and its utility
Through the SCORE index we primarily aim at creating a tool that can be used to a) map social cohesion and reconciliation in society, b) monitor over time the levels of these two indicators, c) assess whether social cohesion and reconciliation are linked with each other, and d) make predictions on how the levels of the two could be affected in different hypothetical situations. The mapping of these two indicators by various demographic indicators such as geographical district and gender, can provide a useful disaggregation of the levels of social cohesion and reconciliation. This break down of information according to population characteristics and geographical areas can provide international organizations, local policy makers, stakeholders, and peace practitioners with much needed information to better target their programs in order to promote social cohesion and reconciliation in areas as well as for groups of people that lag behind.
Tracking the levels of the two indicators overtime is particularly useful when it comes to assessing whether and how a) peace-building programs and b) events exogenous to peace-building programs, have an effect on these two indicators of peace. One would expect that the success of peace-building programs would be mirrored in changes over time in either or both indicators. If, for example, programs targeting x geographical region or y group of population are effective, this should be reflected in a pre- to post- program change in the levels of social cohesion and/or reconciliation for this region/group.
Program evaluations aside, we know that socio-political and economic developments can affect the levels of peace for a group or a geographic area (e.g., peace-talks and other political developments, changes in the economy, changes in immigration influx etc). While being aware of these processes, tracking the change in the levels of social cohesion and reconciliation over-time can enable us to make assumptions on whether new developments, as the ones described above, can affect indicators of peace in the society.
The mapping and the monitoring of social cohesion and reconciliation addresses the needs outlined above in order to ensure better evaluated and more informed peace-building programs. Beyond this application the SCORE index will allow peace and development professionals to explore two new approaches to conflict resolution research.
The first pertains to an attempt to not only map and monitor the two indicators but to also link them in order to understand whether and how they influence each other. The SCORE is based on a working hypothesis whereby social cohesion affects/ predicts reconciliation such that higher levels of social cohesion will lead to a higher propensity for reconciliation. As this is only a hypothesis, data collected in each setting will help us provide support, or reject, or refine (qualify) this hypothesis. The second novelty pertains to the attempt to make predictions through simulations on whether social cohesion and reconciliation (or their relationship) at any given point would be affected in different hypothetical scenarios. The capacity to predict outcomes offers opportunities forward looking transformative scenario planning which supports evidence-based public policy formulation.
||2014 - 2015|