While there is as yet limited empirical evidence of what works best in multi-agency – or ‘whole-of-government’ – approaches to stabilisation, the literature does identify some lessons learned and principles of good practice. These include:
- Overcoming common challenges: establishing transparent processes to identify and manage tensions and trade-offs between neutral humanitarian assistance and other military objectives; dealing with gaps in integrated strategic frameworks, civilian capabilities and government cultural and procedural coherence; and recognising the limitations of overly-ambitious, top-down, linear approaches.
- Fostering local ownership: aligning to shared national frameworks of political, security and development objectives; working to strengthen the capacity of national institutions; building more constructive state-society relations; creating more comprehensive ‘whole-of-society’ approaches that include civil society actors.
- Establishing inter-agency structures: learning from experiences with initiatives such as inter-agency boards, permanent inter-agency units and inter-agency funding pools; considering how to effectively integrate contributions from a greater range of government bodies.
- Using joint processes: using joint analysis and planning to foster inter-ministerial understanding and implementation; improving the integration of political analysis and using plans to inform programming; securing high-level commitment for dedicated resources and broad participation in monitoring and evaluation.
- Operationalising the approach: considering differentiated application of the whole-of-government approach, where the intensity and degree of cooperation varies according to the mode of operation, subject area, and level of implementation (Baumann, 2013).
- Discussions on the leadership of stabilisation operations highlight recommendations for improving civil-military coordination through clear structures for coordination and leadership and consistent, strategic engagement to establish mutual understanding; and investing in civilian capacity to take the operational lead in whole-of-government stabilisation approaches.