A. Final in-country steps
Crisis management missions are designed to be temporary. The goal is to stabilise the situation and lay the groundwork for a stable and sustainable peace.
The decision to end a mission’s mandate is a political one. Assessments are made to determine when a mission can cease and remaining responsibilities can be handed over to local authorities.
Mission planning must, from the outset, include a transition or exit strategy with the understanding that the strategy will require constant adjustment. This may include coordinating, planning and preparing the political groundwork for a successor mission, a systematic handover of responsibilities to local authorities and other partners, or a joint international system to move from post-conflict priorities to a peace-building process.
In any case, transparency, clarity, attention to detail and good communication with partners are essential in the handover process. A good handover makes sure that your work and achievements do not go to waste.
It warns your successors of likely pitfalls and dangers and offers them all the knowledge and contacts they need. For a successful handover, put yourself in the position of your successor: what would you want or need to know?
Think about (or find out) the specific experience and knowledge of the person you are handing over to and tailor your handover accordingly. Use clear systems and records to store information and make sure you get important knowledge that exists only in your head down on paper. Handover notes should be finalised before you leave. A copy should be provided to your successor as well as your supervisor. Ideally, there should be a period of overlap with your successor.
A handover can include:
- a written handover file or handover notes;
- a handover meeting between outgoing and incoming staff;
- individual meetings;
- meetings with relevant contacts to introduce your successor;
- a social event for outgoing and incoming staff.
2. Closing a programme
A project or programme should be formally closed to ensure that:
- operational procedures are in place;
- the handover to operational staff has been completed;
- documentation and reference materials are in place;
- any further actions and recommendations are documented and disseminated;
- the results are disseminated to relevant people;
- there are no loose ends.
The closure of a programme, for whatever reason, should be carefully prepared. Staff are likely to be disappointed about losing their jobs. Local leaders, contractors, partners and beneficiaries may protest against losing the assistance that the programme brought. Care is needed to ensure that the closure is well managed.
Ending staff contracts
The process of terminating contracts should be carefully planned and sensitively managed. Ties of loyalty may have been built up over time and some staff may feel that their loyalty is not being rewarded. Contracts should have been drawn up initially with the possibility of short notice being given in times of crisis, so that staff know what to expect. Local employment laws and customs should be followed scrupulously. A good local lawyer is likely to be needed: their fees may be many times less than the cost of legal action that might otherwise result.
Above all, the process should be fair and perceived to be fair. Managers should ensure that there is clear communication about the process and consultation where possible.
Contracts with local companies, owners of buildings and others may need to be ended as well. In an insecure environment where a crisis is likely to result in termination of contracts at short notice, clauses can be written into contracts at the outset to deal with such a situation. Transparency, fairness and attention to detail are important. Once again, a local lawyer may be useful.
Any outstanding claims or legal cases should be resolved before the departure of the manager. To leave without such resolution could increase risks to staff and former staff as well as to other organisations; and it would damage the reputation of your organisation.
Disposing of property
Early decisions should be made on how to dispose of the organisation’s property. Some property may be sold or given to local organisations. Some may be taken away by the organisation for use in other programmes. These decisions will depend on the requirements of donors, on the rules of the organisation and on the judgment of the manager concerned.
Evaluation and inspection
Evaluations or inspections of programmes may be required by the organisation before the programme closes. These should be taken into account when planning the closure. In particular, will key staff be available for interviews if required?
All key documents and reports should be archived properly. This enables accountability should any future investigation be made. It can also protect the organisation against any false claims.
3. Final report
The main purpose of reports is to inform readers about the progress as well as problems in your field work during the reporting period. The final report (also referred to as an end-of-assignment report) reflects your contribution towards achieving your mandate and tasks. It should identify lessons learned, come to conclusions and facilitate future decision-making.
The purpose of a final report is to provide an assessment of the implementation of the mission’s mandate, particularly with regard to the specific area of your responsibility. It should offer recommendations for improving the effectiveness and efficiency in implementing the mission’s mandate, with the aim of informing policies, procedures and practices. The report should also focus on lessons learned and best practices, and highlight replicable factors that contributed to success or failure.
As the structures and standards required differ significantly, approach your organisation for more information before writing a final report.
4. Mission debrief
A mission debrief will take place with specified staff to enable personnel to discuss their involvement during the deployment and to draw out any lessons learned for the organisation to enrich institutional memory. The following points may be covered:
- arrival in country and orientation
- mission activities
- relations with other organisations and entities
- organisational and administrative issues
- other issues and comments.