"All economic and development activities infrastructure, human and social sector development, economic management, private sector and agricultural recovery, etc. can potentially be selected or designed to contribute to peace-building goals." World Bank LICUS, Good Practice Note on Country Assistance Strategies in Fragile States, 2006
As a financier and as provider of often quite forceful policy and technical advice, the World Bank:
Moreover, despite recent ructions involving the Bank president, some argue that the Bank’s role and influence will increase further in the coming years. This is because influential voices in the donor development community are currently arguing the need to 'multilateralise' development assistance and Finance Ministers may push for this in order to reduce the high transaction costs of aid incurred by bilateral donors.
International Alert is currently deepening its analysis of the Bank’s engagement in fragile and conflict-affected countries. We are continuing to explore the structures and procedures in Washington DC and between HQ and country offices which affect decision-making. We are also looking at ground level impacts and partnerships in the context of new initiatives such as the Statebuilding and Peacebuilding Fund and the Governance and Anti-corruption Implementation Plan. The country cases for Alert are primarily Burundi, Nepal and Sri Lanka, where the Bank and other donors face very different governance and conflict challenges.
Our primary interest is in the institutional incentives and performance criteria for Bank staff and how they design and implement Bank programmes in-country (and across sub-regions). We aim to assist the process of adapting these to the acute development challenges in 40-50 countries worldwide dubbed ‘fragile’. The ultimate goal is to help improve the Bank’s ability to reduce state and societal fragility and prevent violent conflict.
With a clear security mandate and numerous conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities across the world, the United Nations is the most prevalent and, arguably, visible multilateral institution in countries experiencing or emerging from violent conflict. International Alert has been working with and lobbying the UN on various issues but, with the creation of the new Peacebuilding Commission, we now have an opportunity to target our efforts more closely.
The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) was established in December 2005 to help countries in post-conflict peacebuilding, recovery, reconstruction and development. Since it began its work in mid-2006, the PBC has been seen by International Alert and others as an opportunity to build peace more effectively. The Commission’s first activities are now well underway, focusing initially on Burundi and Sierra Leone. In the light of International Alert’s long-standing peacebuilding experience in Central and West Africa, we have been closely following the development of the PBC. In addition, Alert’s Secretary General, Dan Smith, has been selected as one of 10 members of the Advisory Group overseeing the UN’s new Peacebuilding Fund, which will provide financial resources for peacebuilding activities.
In late 2006 Alert submitted recommendations for how the PBC should prioritise its work both generically and in Burundi specifically. We identified priority areas for policy dialogue and sustained commitment to change, such as the independence and impartiality in the justice systems and the mitigation of tensions over land and gender equality.
Alert will continue to provide our advice and expertise to optimise the PBC’s ability to improve the situation of those suffering from conflict and insecurity. Currently the most important message for the PBC is not to rush the adoption of hastily drafted peacebuilding strategies, but to ensure that, through consultation with all relevant stakeholders, clear goals, objectives, indicators and targets are identified. For the PBC to make a difference, the roadmap has to be identifiable and credible.
At International Alert, our work with the UN on gender issues has evolved from our campaign with other organisations beginning in 1999 which successfully advocated for the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in October 2000. This is a watershed political framework that emphasises a gender perspective and the pursuit of gender equality in all aspects of peacebuilding.
Alert continues to work to ensure the full implementation of SCR 1325 by the UN – not least within the UN Peacebuilding Commission. Gender equality and a stronger emphasis on SCR 1325 were among the top priorities we have been advocating for with the PBC. In addition, as a founding member and instrumental voice in the UN NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, Alert has carried out a number of high-profile advocacy events to, among other things, bring the voices of Burundian and Sierra Leonean women to PBC decision-makers at UN Headquarters in New York. You can read about the event here.
For more information on Resolution 1325 and the PBC, download the NGO Working Group’s 2006 report: SCR 1325 and the Peacebuilding Commission.
The EU was established as a peacebuilding mechanism for Europe after the Second World War. Today, as a union of 27 Member States, it is a major international peacebuilding actor with a common commitment to build ‘a secure and peaceful world.’ Equal to the United States in economic strength, it is the world’s largest trading bloc, the biggest global humanitarian and development donor and is present in more than 120 countries, over a third of which are affected by conflict.
International Alert aims to improve the effectiveness of the EU’s effort to prevent violent conflict. The primary vehicle for this is the Initiative for Peacebuilding, a partnership which includes 10 European organizations that are expert in identifying the challenges and recommending ways forward.
The EU’s efforts to improve the effectiveness of its contribution to peacebuilding are manifested in a wide variety of statements, communications and other documents. Foremost among these is the Programme of Action for the Prevention of Violent Conflict set out in Gothenburg in 2001. This is being complemented by emerging institutional generic work on Fragile States and Situations as well as region-specific approaches such as the EU-Africa Strategy. Internal guidelines have also been circulated within the Commission to promote systematic attention to conflict prevention and crisis management and a check-list of root causes of conflict has been produced. However, greater political will, capacity building and technical expertise is needed to put existing policy commitments into practice and further improve the effectiveness of the EU’s contribution to peacebuilding.
By doing this we aim to ensure that the EU addresses the long-term root causes and evolving drivers of violent conflict and puts the goal of peacebuilding at the centre of its policy and institutional practices. This requires coherent structures and strategies across all EU policy and practice that are informed by the people who are affected by conflict.
International Alert also works within a number of networks and partnerships to promote peacebuilding within and amongst the EU:
We are a founding member of the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO), a network of NGOs active in conflict prevention that seeks to promote peacebuilding policies among decision-makers in Europe. We work through EPLO to influence emerging EU policy papers, strategies and declarations. Following the finalisation of new Funding Instruments for 2007-2013 and with new programming plans being finalised by the Commission, International Alert worked with the EPLO, and with fellow member Saferworld, to produce the briefing paper Acting on commitments: How EU strategies and programming can better prevent violent conflict to highlight important areas of progress in the EU’s work during 2006 and to make specific recommendations on further improvements in the months ahead.
In 2006, Alert participated in a four-member consortium, the Conflict Prevention Partnership, that was led by International Crisis Group. Under this collaboration, we engaged with a range of officials and local stakeholders to advise on the EU’s peacebuilding role in the two geographic contexts, the Great Lakes and the South Caucasus, and on two thematic areas, the economic dimensions of peacebuilding and linking security and development in dealing with the challenges posed by ex-combatants.
Since late 2007, we have been leading a consortium of organisations in The Initiative for Peacebuilding (IfP). The IfP draws together the complementary geographic and thematic expertise of 10 civil society organisations (and their networks) with offices across the EU and in conflict-affected countries. IfP partners have joined together to develop and promote international knowledge and expertise in the field of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. IfP is a thematic project, exploring a number of cross-cutting issues in specific regions across four continents; emphasizing the inclusion of those affected by conflict in influencing national and international policy debates and ensuring a stronger link between policy and practice. The themes are: 1) Mediation; 2) Regional cooperation on environment, economy and natural resources; 3) Security; 4) Democratisation and transitional justice; 5) Gender; and 6) Capacity building and training.
With an important stock-taking conference coming up in a few weeks time - minds are being focused on just how far the world has come in achieving the millennium development goals. These were a set of targets adopted in the year two thousand to provide a framework for tackling extreme poverty and they're meant to be attained by twenty fifteen. There was broad agreement that this was a good thing. But now a group here in London is raising doubts about the value of this approach.
MEETING THE UK’S COMMITMENTS ON FRAGILE STATES
A Submission by International Alert to DFID’s White Paper Consultation
Implementing Aid as a Political Contract:
Working more effectively in Conflict Affected and Fragile States.
Alert submission to DFID's White Paper Consultation March 2009
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will not be achieved by 2015. Progress is especially slow in fragile contexts, where institutions are weak and there is a risk of violent conflict. But a closer examination shows that the MDGs are inadequate measures of development progress, and as such they represent an international development paradigm that is tired and confused. It is time to review what we mean by development, i.e. the very idea of human progress.
A UN Summit in September will review progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. It will find that they are not going to be met by 2015 as planned. But rather than push for an “MDG Rescue Plan” as some are proposing, it is time to ask some hard questions about how societies change, and what we really mean by "development". This report proposes a new model for defining and measuring development progress, and makes practical recommendations about how aid can become more effective in promoting, supporting and enabling human progress, especially in so-called fragile states.
The battle lines are starting to be drawn over how development assistance and peacebuilding do or don’t support each other, or can or can’t be made to work together, and about whether bad governance and insecurity are the right targets for international development policy and assistance.
Last year International Alert’s Secretary-General Dan Smith was selected to review the UK Department for International Development’s policy on state-building and peacebuilding, an issue which is a bit of a hot topic in many of the countries where Alert works. Smith challenged some of the UK Government’s key assumptions and provided new ways of thinking about the interlinkages between state-building and peacebuilding.