Why Capacity Building is a core element of our work
One of the unique features of Civitas Maxima’s work is its prioritization of capacity building efforts, which is a core element of Civitas Maxima’s mission: to collaborate with and build the capacity of local grass-roots partners to document crimes in the state where those crimes were committed.
This mission is based on Civitas Maxima’s understanding and firm belief that:
- Local civil society organizations have a unique and vital understanding of the context and culture, as well as a strong network and the trust of victims, which places them in a unique position to undertake this work; and that
- Empowering and strengthening local CSOs is a tangible and long-term contribution to achieving accountability, building peace, and supporting sustainable change.
How we undertake Capacity Building
Civitas Maxima aims to support, in a concrete and sustainable manner, local organizations in the countries in which we work to build their capacity to become leading local actors in the fight against impunity. The primary focus of Civitas Maxima’s capacity building efforts to date has been in Liberia, with our sister organization, the GJRP, with whom we work on a daily basis to achieve our shared goals. During the course of our partnership, since 2012, the GJRP has become a flagship human rights defender in Liberia, and is increasingly sought after to cooperate with war crimes units all over the world in building cases in the name of Liberian victims of war-time atrocities.
Civitas Maxima’s capacity building efforts focus not only on supporting the development of substantive investigative skills and international crimes expertise in our partner organizations, but also the necessary operational skills required for an independent, professional, and sustainable CSO.
Legal and Investigative Capacity Building
Civitas Maxima has ensured that GJRP staff receive the best possible training in the investigation of international crimes. This has included both sending GJRP investigators (on scholarship) to The Hague to attend intensive International Investigator course at the internationally-renowned Institute for International Criminal Investigation (IICI), as well as providing the team with tailor-made trainings in Monrovia on investigation, interviewing techniques, and elements of crimes.
In addition, Civitas Maxima’s lawyers work on a continuous basis with GJRP investigators via informal training on investigative and analytical skills, as well as targeted workshops on these practical skills, and more academic trainings about international crimes. Civitas Maxima has been supported in this work on a number of occasions by “guest” international criminal law experts from the University of Nottingham, principally Professor Olympia Bekou.
Operational Capacity Building
Civitas Maxima also works to build the GJRP’s operational capacity – including their skills in administration, accounting, human resources, and security. Similar to our continuous support in building their legal and investigative skills, we also provide ongoing informal training in these areas – working on an individual basis with the GJRP team members who undertake the organizations accounting, administrative, and human resources work.
Civitas Maxima also works with the GJRP to build their capacity to independently obtain and maintain direct funding. While Civitas Maxima initially provided 100% of the GJRP’s funding, in 2018 Civitas Maxima assisted the GJRP to obtain its first direct grants, in relation to which Civitas Maxima has been undertaking a supporting and administering role. In this way, Civitas Maxima provides the opportunity for the GJRP to test their capacity to independently attract and administer grants in preparation for greater independence in the future.