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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Delivering AU mandates

International Alert held a two-day workshop aimed at developing a communications strategy for the Liberia and South Sudan African Union Liaison Offices (AULOs) in Addis Ababa on 5–6 December 2013.

The workshop ended with participants agreeing that Liaison Offices should become ‘the face and voice’ of the African Union.

Alert welcomes report on reforming World Bank’s work in conflict-affected countries

The World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) has released an evaluation of the Bank’s performance in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS). The report can be read here.

African Union training

Members of the AULOs at the training in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo by International Alert/Lulsegged AbebeInternational Alert recently brought together representatives from three African Union Liaison Offices (AULOs) for a six-day training course on conflict analysis, gender and political economy.

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Who holds the UK government to account for its contribution to development in poorer countries?

The International Development Committee should commission a study to investigate how the UK’s non-aid policies impact the development prospects of poor people and societies overseas. In addition to voluntary scrutiny by civil society and the media, two statutory institutions in the United Kingdom monitor the country’s official contribution to overseas development: parliament mainly through its International Development Select Committee (IDC), and the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI).

New opportunities for reform at the World Bank

Earlier this month International Alert and Oxfam International co-hosted a panel discussion entitled ‘Politics, power and risk: Reforming World Bank operations in fragile and conflict-affected situations’ at the World Bank’s Civil Society Policy Forum, on the fringes of the World Bank/IMF’s annual meetings.

Surprising results from the World Bank?

A few days ago I posted an article about the good progress being made by the World Bank, coming to terms with the difficulties inherent in suporting the right kind of progress in what the Bank calls Fragile and Conflict-affected Situations (FCS). I highlighted not only the good signs, but also some of challenges faced.

The World Bank: How is it doing?

Last week I spent some time in Washington DC, on the fringes of the World Bank/IMF autumn meetings. I was discussing International Alert’s recommendations for making the next round of the Bank’s International Development Association (IDA 17) funding as effective as possible in the fragile and conflict-affected countries which make up an increasing proportion of the IDA caseload.