International institutions play an important role in supporting governments and communities in conflict-affected countries, but their performance and impact are uneven.

We work with them to strengthen their contribution to peace and development locally.

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Introduction: 

International institutions like the United Nations, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and African Union play an important role in supporting governments and communities in the most fragile and conflict-affected countries, but their performance and impact are uneven.

We work with them to strengthen their contribution to peace and development locally. We research the role they play in peace and conflict around the world. We advise them on how to reform their policies and practices for working in fragile and conflict-affected countries. We also provide them with context analysis, technical expertise and training on conflict-sensitivity, to ensure their strategies and projects take into account local peace and conflict dynamics.

Our work is important because it helps international institutions to increase the impact of their work and avoid inadvertently aggravating local conflict tensions.

Why: 

International institutions like the United Nations, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and African Union direct billions of dollars in aid and investment to fragile and conflict-affected countries every year. However, in 2011 the World Development Report found that not one low-income, fragile and conflict-affected country had achieved a single Millennium Development Goal. Peacebuilding and development are challenging in fragile and conflict-affected countries, but better results are possible.

The World Development Report findings stimulated renewed pressure on international institutions to revise their policies and practices for working in fragile and conflict-affected countries. These reforms need to ensure that international aid and investment make more of a difference to the lives of ordinary people living in these countries.

International institutions often have trouble navigating the challenging and deeply political terrain of delivering aid in fragile and conflict-affected countries. They have a tendency to engage primarily with central governments and exclude other local and national political representatives and voices. They can also over-simplify complex situations and take an inflexible approach to their operations in fast-changing environments. This means that billions of dollars of international aid and investment not only risk going to waste, but also exacerbating local conflict tensions and violence.

In order to increase the positive impact they have in fragile and conflict-affected countries, international institutions need to adopt a more conflict-sensitive approach to their work. This means changing institutional policies and systems, but also working with staff to work differently in fragile and conflict-affected countries. When financing and delivering new projects, for example, deepening their understanding of local peace and development needs and taking into account the complex socio-economic and political power relations that shape these.

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Doing development ‘right’: Why safeguards matter for peace

Earlier this month The Independent on Sunday featured a piece by its science editor on “aggressive development banks with little interest in protecting the natural world”. In it, the author voiced serious concerns over the scale of new infrastructure projects financed by multilateral development banks (MDBs) in developing countries and their impact on the environment.

Conflict risks in post-earthquake Nepal

International Alert is calling for the government and aid agencies in Nepal to consider 'do no harm' principles in their aid delivery, and to think about including ways to empower excluded groups and to reinforce social cohesion in relief and recovery strategies.

DFID at 18 years of age: How should a young adult behave?

The Department for International Development (DFID) turns 18 this year. If this week’s general election had taken place later in the year, it would have had a chance to vote. But beyond voting, the transition from adolescent to adult is marked by other factors in life: the need to take responsibility for oneself and others, the need to mix energy and ambition with seeking and taking advice from those who perhaps know what you don’t, and to explore and develop relationships. In this blog, I look at DFID in relation to these factors, as it enters adulthood. Energy and ambition

Fragility, conflict and violence

Last month International Alert took part in the World Bank’s first Fragility, Conflict and Violence (FCV) Forum in Washington DC. We presented as part of a panel discussion on conflict-sensitivity and also joined a training course on FCV for World Bank field staff.

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Safeguards that work for fragile contexts

International Alert submitted recommendations to the World Bank review of their environmental and social safeguards this month.

The safeguards set out environmental and social standards that all bank projects must comply with, dealing with things such as land tenure, environmental damage, indigenous people’s protections, stakeholder engagement and accountability. As such, the standards are crucial to the institution’s ability to deliver inclusive development in fragile and conflict-affected situations.

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Aid interventions in South Sudan: Integrating a conflict-sensitive approach

This article was originally published in the International NGO Training and Research Centre's (INTRAC) newsletter, ONTRAC, issue 59, available here. Integrating a conflict-sensitive approach into the operations and projects of institutions and organisations – including governments, humanitarian and development organisations – often results in more sustainable and stable interventions.

The World Bank – safeguarding progress towards peace?

Last week the World Bank Safeguards Consultation process arrived in London and International Alert, alongside other civil society organisations, participated in two days of dialogue with the institution on the new draft safeguards framework. Representatives from the UK Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office also participated in the dialogue.

Fragile and conflict-affected states

As Sustainable Development Goals negotiations proceed, so to do discussions on how they might be financed.

The first of four drafting sessions in the lead up to the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, due to take place in Addis Ababa in July 2015, will commence this week in New York (28-30 January 2015).

Alert trains African Development Bank on conflict sensitivity

Earlier this month International Alert and Swisspeace were in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, co-facilitating a seminar and training for the African Development Bank on development in fragile and conflict-affected countries.