Consultant: Strategic Review of Interest-Based Negotiation in Myanmar

Consultancies Yangon, Myanmar


Strategic Review Of Interest-Based Negotiation In Myanmar


Scope of Work

Mercy Corps is looking for a consultant to conduct a strategic review of its current dispute resolution programming. The review, conducted in 2 phases, will take an estimated 15 days of effort and should be completed by June 2019. Interested applicants should apply online via Mercy Corps’ website by Friday 15th  March.

1. Background:

For over five years, Mercy Corps has been implementing programs to strengthen the negotiation and dispute resolution skills of civil society leaders, religious leaders, and government officials in Myanmar.[1] These programs apply a collaborative approach to negotiation and problem-solving - referred to by Mercy Corps as the interest-based negotiation (IBN) framework - to strengthen the capacities of participating leaders to communicate constructively across lines of division and resolve disputes effectively. The approach, adapted to Myanmar’s context, builds on Mercy Corps’ global experience using IBN as a tool to support dispute resolution, collaborative problem solving, and joint project implementation, and dating back to Mercy Corps’ 2004 merger with the Cambridge-based Conflict Management Group.

2. Purpose:

The purpose of the strategic review is to 1) capture programs’ intended and unintended impacts, successes and setbacks, 2) review Mercy Corps’ current dispute resolution programming approaches against global best practice and 3) generate practical recommendations for strengthening implementation and impact in the anticipated second phase of the intercommunal violence program as well as in other ongoing and future programs.

After several years of implementation and adaptation, the Mercy Corps team wants to take a step back to review its dispute resolution program against global best practice with an eye to strengthening implementation and impact in upcoming programs. The team hopes that this strategic review will also expose them to new theoretical perspectives and approaches that may be integrated into the existing approach to enhance sustainability and impact. The ideal applicant will be familiar with the IBN approach while also bringing experience in a broad range of relevant theoretical and practical approaches.

The strategic review will assess the relevance of the IBN approach and review results chains and achievements vs. intended outcomes, as well as the different approaches and tools used in different projects. This strategic review will serve as a key decision point in formulating recommendations for future programs and potentially reorienting our approach based on what we learn.


 3. Objectives:

  1. To review Mercy Corps’ current dispute resolution program approaches against global best practices. This includes reviewing the participant selection strategies, curriculum, strategies for supporting ongoing networking and learning, and methods of monitoring and evaluating the impact – both intended and unintended - of dispute resolution programming.
  2. To generate recommendations for improving the mediation and dispute resolution programming in the second phase of the program. Recommendations should draw on the review as well as best practices in mediation and dispute resolution programming and provide concrete and practical guidance for strengthening implementation and impact.
  3. To expose the Mercy Corps team to new ideas around dispute resolution training and best practices. The consultant should be prepared to talk through best practices and common pitfalls of dispute resolution programming with the team. To the extent possible, team members should be involved in the review process in order to maximize learning.


4. Strategic Review Questions:

Mercy Corps hopes the review will help to answer some specific questions.

  1. Impact and sustainability. How are former participants doing today? How have trained mediators’ approaches to negotiation changed since their participation in Mercy Corps’ program? What is retained at an individual and institutional level? What are some of the strategic entry points Mercy Corps can leverage to strengthen institutional capacities? How do we make sure these programs have an impact at the community level? To what extent has Mercy Corps been successful with transferring skills and knowledge to local civil society organizations?
  2. How did Mercy Corps adapt IBN to the Myanmar-context and specific dynamics? To what extent were we successful in doing so? What opportunities have we missed?
  • In Myanmar, Mercy Corps has used its IBN approach for different program objectives with uneven results:
    • Increase communities’ trust and confidence in leaders;
    • Decrease the number of disputes;
    • Strengthen local conflict management mechanisms through:
      • Adoption of tools,
      • Peer to peer relationships,
      • Social cohesion and community trust,
      • Conflict resolution - with mediation and negotiation being used interchangeably,
      • Conflict prevention,
      • Provision of justice services, with a strong human rights component,
      • Better track and monitor disputes through a documentation system.
    • In Myanmar, Mercy Corps has used and adapted its IBN approach to contexts (urban and rural areas, government-controlled areas, ethnic authorities-controlled areas, mixed-controlled areas, conflict-affected areas).
  1. Training curriculum. Based on the above and feedback from alumni, how can the training curriculum be improved?
  2. Mentoring and coaching. Should IBN be a standalone project or fit with a larger peacebuilding architecture? What additional, ongoing support should be provided to trained mediators in order to consolidate new dispute resolution skills? Is the “exchange meeting” system effective? Has the “mentoring and coaching” system work? Does it make sense to work with trained alumni as mentors?
  3. Target beneficiaries. What type of person is most impactful and feasible to target for training in mediation and dispute resolution? Did we target the right people? How can selection and engagement of program participants be improved? How can we better target women and youth when engaging leaders?
  • In Myanmar, the IBN curriculum was first adapted from the model used by Mercy Corps’ conflict resolution programs in Iraq, which involved a strong network-building component. However, in Myanmar, Mercy Corps decided to identify and work with key individuals (“champions” - civil society representatives, government officials, ethnic authorities, religious leaders) rather than existing networks. In doing so, Mercy Corps paid careful attention to making sure that the skills transferred would remain within specific institutions, whether government or stemming from civil society initiatives.
  1. What is the best way to monitor and evaluate mediation and dispute resolution activities? How can we best measure the effectiveness of dispute resolution processes?


6. Consultant Activities:

Applicants should propose their methodology for achieving the strategic review, although detailed methodologies for the strategic review will be agreed between Mercy Corps and the consultant after contracting. Mercy Corps envisages a two-phase approach for this consultancy.

Phase 1, which should take place before the end of March 2019, will consist of the following activities over an estimated period of 6 days.

  • Desk Research: Review key program documents, including the program proposal, actor mapping strategy, training curriculum, and other strategy documents.
  • Initial workshop: Lead all aspects of the strategic review of dispute resolution programming, including designing the review methodology in consultation with the program team, reviewing research questions and refining the scope of work, and designing any evaluation guidelines.
  • Yangon-based data collection[2]: The strategic review design will be complemented by key informant interviews and discussions with Mercy Corps’ program teams and donor organizations in Yangon.

Phase 2, which should take place between May and June 2019, will consist of the following activities over an estimated period of 9 days.

  • Data analysis: Lead all aspects of the data analysis and strategic review of dispute resolution programming, including analyzing and synthesizing the data collected by Mercy Corps’ program team and local consultants.
  • Final Workshop: Present findings from the strategic review to the team in a workshop format. This should include common lessons learnt and pitfalls in dispute resolution, as well as best practices, along with findings from the review of Mercy Corps’ programming and recommendations for future programming based on the Strategic Review Questions below.
  • Reporting: Write a first draft and final report, to include a methodology section, strategic review findings, and program recommendations,.
  • Other activities proposed by the consultant as deemed relevant and as agreed by Mercy Corps.


7. Consultant Deliverables:

  • Strategic review work plan.
  • Exhaustive final strategic review report (for internal use) summarizing findings from the review and recommendations for future programming.
  • Short impact brief (for external use - 4 to 6 pages) summarizing Mercy Corps’ approach, key impact and key lessons learnt.
  • Presentation on the findings of the review, best practices, and recommendations.


8. Support from Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps will:

  • Share all program-related reports and other relevant strategic documents with the consultant to help with the generation of lessons learnt.
  • Make sure the staff involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of relevant programs are available for interviews with the consultant.
  • Support the consultant in liaising with key stakeholders (partners, trainees, government officials, etc.) to set up meetings, field visits and key informant interviews.

9. Timeframe/Schedule

The evaluation should take approximately 15 days of effort (6 days for Phase 1 and 9 days for Phase 2). The assessment should be completed by June 2019.


While Mercy Corps undertakes the responsibility of facilitating local travel and organizing meetings for the evaluator, it is the evaluator’s ultimate responsibility to follow through and ensure that all relevant parties are interviewed and relevant project sites visited.

The Consultant will report to: Benjamin Medam, Director - Strategy and Program Development

The Consultant will work closely with: Su Phyo Lwin, Senior Program Manager - Peacebuilding; Jonathan Bartolozzi - Director of Programs; Kyaw Zayar Aung - M&E Coordinator; IBN Technical Team

  1. Qualifications

The ideal applicant will have:

  • Five to ten years’ experience of mediation and resolution practice or programming, ideally in a context of intercommunal violence and/or an international context
  • Excellent verbal and written communication in English required
  • Strong organizational, analytical and reporting skills, presentation skills, attention to detail, and ability to meet deadlines
  • Candidates with previous Myanmar experience are strongly preferred


  1. Application Process and Requirements

Qualified and interested parties are asked to submit the following:

  • CV
  • Statement of interest
  • Proposed methodology and work plan
  • A financial proposal with a detailed breakdown of costs (including all applicable taxes) for the strategic review, quoted in United States dollars.


Proposals will be evaluated based on value for money and technical quality.


[1] These programs include INRM, LRP, RMRE (mine risk education), Sone Hmat, PROSPER, My Justice (+ Bago pilot), ACE, DSW, NCDDP.

[2] Field-based data collection will be lead by a local consultant and is not covered as part of this consultancy. Data collection will take place in implementation areas: Taunggyi, Mandalay, Mawlamyine, Bilin, Hpa An, Loikaw.