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South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA)

Planning an effective peer review:
A guidebook for national focal points

Ross Herbert and Steven Gruzd

South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA)

February 2007

SARPN acknowledges SAIIA as a source of this document:
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Also available in French and Portuguese.

Planning an Effective Peer Review

The African Peer Review is an important undertaking for Africa, its people and each country that goes through the process. To get the most from the process, it is important to plan ahead, anticipate the key issues and set in motion strategies to maximise the benefits while effectively managing the important challenges that arise.

This is the essence of effective management in any field and is particularly important in a complex process like APRM, which brings together thousands of people from different backgrounds. For almost everyone it will be a new experience, requiring participation in newly formed institutions.

This manual outlines the key lessons and best practices demonstrated in the early APRM countries, provides ideas for APRM innovations that could be helpful in improving on the early country experiences and offers checklists of the main points involved in different phases of the process.

The following pages will set out the five stages of APRM, several national institutions to be established, a variety of research methods, and budgeting and staffing considerations. These details are steps on the road to the two most important end products: a country selfassessment report (CSAR) and a programme of action (POA) to address the gaps identified in the self-assessment.

But APRM is not about documents. They are only a means to an end. APRM is about positive change and improving governance.

Because change involves diverse people, competing interests and many points of view, APRM should be seen in social and political terms. As a result, this APRM overview focuses on both the political and the technical aspects, which constantly affect each other.

Ignoring the political dimensions of consultation can cause controversy, while ignoring some of the technical aspects can add complications. Fortunately, many people have been through the experience and have shared the benefit of their efforts, which this booklet tries to faithfully capture.

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