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Senior BiH Mine Action Community Leaders meet for Roundtable

Article by Maggie Spivey

Senior Mine Action community leaders met in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), from September 15 – 16 for a Roundtable coordinated by the Naval Postgraduate School, in its capacity as the designated U.S. Partnership for Peace Training and Education Center (USPTC).

The Roundtable is part of the ongoing work conducted by the USPTC with the Mine Action community focusing on collaborative strategic leadership in complex environments as BiH strives to be mine free by 2019.  

The USPTC team working on the project includes Mr. Jeffrey Munks, consultant to the USPTC, and Drs. Susan Hocevar and Gail Thomas, both Associate Professors with the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy.

Prior to the Roundtable, the USPTC team met individually with a variety of members in or connected to the Mine Action community to get a sense of the progress borne from their previous efforts along with the continued challenges and obstacles encountered by the community.  The team then used these findings to focus the Roundtable discussion.  

Some of the responses and subsequent Roundtable discussion reflect the struggles encountered in many democratic governments, including the United States, such as how to work effectively in an interagency environment across different organizational cultures, behaviors, and norms.  

As one member pointed out during the Roundtable, it took “three experts from Monterey, California, to come all the way here so that this group can sit together and talk to each other about these critical issues.”

Another challenge encountered by some of the members included the requirement at the national level for viable demining efforts, yet a lack of a clear mechanism (e.g. funding) or other practical tools to accomplish the demining at the entity, Canton, and municipal levels (similar to state, county, and city levels in the U.S.).

One community member, however, had a success story to share.  According to Munks, the member “attended the USPTC-sponsored Strategic Communication workshop in June 2011 and then returned to his Canton to write a new plan for 2012 operations that incorporated what he learned at the workshop about collaborative strategic leadership.  His plan was accepted by the Canton government and he will, for the very first time, have an actual funded budget line item for Mine Action activities in the Canton.  Previously, Mine Action in the Canton had been the equivalent of an unfunded mandate.”

Other concerns noted by the participants included the “depth of the problem of transparency, lack of communication, and failure to assimilate and report data that is fed into the national system, supposedly for the benefit of all stakeholders.”  Further, the “political will, donor support, and economic development are central to the challenge of completing the demining of BiH by 2019.”

With the involvement of the senior Mine Action leaders attending the Roundtable, it was proposed that the USPTC’s next activity in BiH would be to organize a conference of leaders responsible for Mine Action at the Canton and major municipality level from throughout BiH.  

According to Munks, the “plan is to conduct a conference in March 2012 to provide information and instruction on developing grant proposals, collaborative planning, and work proposals, and to help develop personal and professional networks among officials who are dealing with similar challenges in different geographic locations.”

Lastly, he added, “The underlying theme will be building capacity for collaboration across domains and geographies, as well as horizontal and vertical boundaries of responsibility and accountability.” 

 

Posted October 11, 2011

 

 

 

Photo credit: Jeffrey Munks

 

 

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