Symposium Recap: Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rebuilding from Emergency to Development

On Friday, October 31, 2014, experts, scholars, and practitioners in the field of post-conflict reconstruction convened at Harvard Law School for our annual symposium. This year, the Symposium’s theme was Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Rebuilding from Emergency to Development, and focused on strategies to best promote growth, stability, and long-term development in countries arising from violent conflict.  Speakers and panelists discussed issues facing countries that having arisen from conflict such as Rwanda, to countries that are very much still in the process of transition, like Syria.


The event started with an illuminating talk by Keynote Speaker Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, and former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in Rwanda. Dr. Kaberuka spoke in depth about strategies to promote growth and development in fragile and post-conflict states.  To begin with an example, he spoke about how a brutal civil war destroyed much of infrastructure, including health systems, education systems and infrastructure, in Guinea, leading to the country’s inability to effectively control the Ebola epidemic today (coupled with a poor international response).  Dr. Kaberuka further went on to emphasize how conflict can happen anywhere, and is not limited to Africa — despite certain stereotypes. Dr. Kaberuka spoke about the Bank’s work in this area, particularly in: rebuilding economies; rebuilding capacities; and helping post-conflict countries reengage with the international community.  In particular, he emphasized that each conflict and each country can be drastically different, so there are no one-sized solutions; it depends very much on the state and who controls it.

In addition, he noted a few factors for success: first, a strong sense of ownership and responsibility; second, be pragmatic, but understand that making mistakes is normal; third, turn weaknesses into opportunity; and fourth, engage the private sector and leverage it to rebuild the economy.  It is important to take bold steps early on, including abolishing controls, liberalizing, and ensuring independence of the central bank, and yet to redistribute wealth by investing in health and education.  Ultimately, it is up to each nation to engage in rebuilding the country and resolving their problems.  As he stated, “Rebuilding a nation cannot be outsourced. Only the nationals can rebuild their country.”

Click here to download a video of Dr. Kaberuka’s talk.


Following Dr. Kaberuka’s talk, we moved on to the first panel, titled Driving Economic Growth and Building Institutions After Conflict.  The panel featured practitioners, academics and policymakers who work in government institutions and non-profits to promote growth and institution building in post-conflict countries. Panelists included:  Catherine Anderson, Justice and Conflict Advisor, World Bank Justice Reform Practice Group;  Sarah Cliffe, Special Adviser for East Asia and Pacific Region, World Bank;  Robert Jenkins, Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) and Executive Director, USAID Task Force on Syria; and Barbara Smith, Senior Director for Governance and Law, Asia Foundation. The panel was moderated by Michael Woolcock, Lead Social Development Specialist, World Bank Development Research Group and Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (and a founder of the World Bank’s Justice for the Poor program).

The panelists spoke not only about post-conflict development but about how prevention is equally important; countries with weaker institutions are at 50% higher risk of conflict.  Robert Jenkins in particular spoke about the importance of countering violent extremism, and the need to address the rising youth bulge and their demands for jobs and dignity.  He emphasized how post-conflict development is in itself conflict prevention, and that it is a lot cheaper to prevent a war than to be in war. There were also discussions about aid coordination and how to improve the response of the international community, including donors and major institutions.

Click here to download a video of the first panel


Finally, our second panel was titled Developing Stability and Security: Post-Conflict Security Sector and Justice Reform, and focused largely on the rule of law aspects of post-conflict rebuilding. Panelists were: Angela Conway, Director of the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Division, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative; Jean-Marie Kamatali, Assistant Professor of Law, Ohio Northern University College of Law; and Vivek Maru, Founder and CEO, Namati. The panel was moderated by David Marshall, Senior Rule of Law Advisor, New York Office, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

This panel provided a fascinating look into justice systems in countries arising from conflict, with case studies from Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Rwanda, among other places. The group had a discussion about what ‘rule of law’ actually means, and why it is important in post-conflict nations.  Vivek Maru particularly emphasized the importance of the model used by Timap for Justice and other grassroots organizations in countries arising from conflict, where the formal justice system often lacks capacity; this model utilizes grassroots, community paralegals to provide justice to ordinary people quickly on issues such as criminal justice, land disputes, and citizenship. He emphasized how important it is to support and expand such projects to ensure justice in countries such as Sierra Leone, and how such a method promotes the rule of law. David Marshall spoke about his work with the UN in South Sudan, and how there can be such a disconnect between ‘rule of law’ and ‘human rights’ practitioners within the UN and other institutions.  Angela Conway spoke about the ABA Rule of Law initiative’s programs around the world and in Libya, Iraq, Egypt, and the Gulf. Finally, Jean-Marie Kamatali discussed his personal and professional experiences with the Rwandan genocide, and how it can be incredibly difficult to rebuild trust in such an environment, and how transitional justice and accountability processes can promote rebuilding the rule of law.

Click here to download a video of the second panel.

Contact Symposium Chair, Akhila Kolisetty (akolisetty [at] for more information!

Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking leaves no land untouched. In 2013 the U.S. State Department estimated that there are 27 million victims worldwide trafficked for forced labor or commercial sex exploitation. A 2011 report from the Department of Justice found that of more than 2,500 federal trafficking cases from 2008 to 2010, 82% concerned sex trafficking and nearly half of those involved victims under the age of 18. Scholars note that the phenomenon represents a serious health issue for women and girls worldwide. Beyond the human cost, trafficking may also compromise international security, weaken the rule of law and undermine health systems.

Since the United Nations adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children in 2000, global efforts have been made by the international community to address the growing problem. Challenges remain significant, however, in particular because of its profitability: According to the International Labor Organization, human trafficking is a $32 billion industry, second only to illicit drugs. A 2011 paper in Human Rights Review found that sex slaves cost on average $1,895 each while generating $29,210 annually, leading to “stark predictions about the likely growth in commercial sex slavery in the future.”

A 2012 study published in World Development“Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?” investigates the effect of legalized prostitution on human trafficking inflows into high-income countries. The researchers — Seo-Yeong Cho of the German Institute for Economic Research, Axel Dreher of the University of Heidelberg and Eric Neumayer of the London School of Economics and Political Science — analyzed cross-sectional data of 116 countries to determine the effect of legalized prostitution on human trafficking inflows. In addition, they reviewed case studies of Denmark, Germany and Switzerland to examine the longitudinal effects of legalizing or criminalizing prostitution.

The study’s findings include:

  • Countries with legalized prostitution are associated with higher human trafficking inflows than countries where prostitution is prohibited. The scale effect of legalizing prostitution, i.e. expansion of the market, outweighs the substitution effect, where legal sex workers are favored over illegal workers. On average, countries with legalized prostitution report a greater incidence of human trafficking inflows.
  • The effect of legal prostitution on human trafficking inflows is stronger in high-income countries than middle-income countries. Because trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation requires that clients in a potential destination country have sufficient purchasing power, domestic supply acts as a constraint.
  • Criminalization of prostitution in Sweden resulted in the shrinking of the prostitution market and the decline of human trafficking inflows. Cross-country comparisons of Sweden with Denmark (where prostitution is decriminalized) and Germany (expanded legalization of prostitution) are consistent with the quantitative analysis, showing that trafficking inflows decreased with criminalization and increased with legalization.
  • The type of legalization of prostitution does not matter — it only matters whether prostitution is legal or not. Whether third-party involvement (persons who facilitate the prostitution businesses, i.e, “pimps”) is allowed or not does not have an effect on human trafficking inflows into a country. Legalization of prostitution itself is more important in explaining human trafficking than the type of legalization.
  • Democracies have a higher probability of increased human-trafficking inflows than non-democratic countries. There is a 13.4% higher probability of receiving higher inflows in a democratic country than otherwise.

While trafficking inflows may be lower where prostitution is criminalized, there may be severe repercussions for those working in the industry. For example, criminalizing prostitution penalizes sex workers rather than the people who earn most of the profits (pimps and traffickers).

“The likely negative consequences of legalised prostitution on a country’s inflows of human trafficking might be seen to support those who argue in favour of banning prostitution, thereby reducing the flows of trafficking,” the researchers state. “However, such a line of argumentation overlooks potential benefits that the legalisation of prostitution might have on those employed in the industry. Working conditions could be substantially improved for prostitutes — at least those legally employed — if prostitution is legalised. Prohibiting prostitution also raises tricky ‘freedom of choice’ issues concerning both the potential suppliers and clients of prostitution services.”


Source: Journalist Resource

20th International Development Conference at Harvard!

The 20th International Development Conference at Harvard is less than three weeks away! The conference will have over 15 panels and several keynotes with amazing speakers such as:

  • Esther Duflo, Co-Founder and Director of JPAL
  • Kris Balderston from the Fleishman-Hillard Washington, DC Office
  • John MacArthur, Senior Fellow at the UN Foundation
  • Jane Wales, CEO the Global Philanthropy Forum and the World Affairs Council and the Vice President of Philanthropy at the Aspen Institute

See the full list of activities spanning April 11-12 and register for the conference on the IDC 2014 website: