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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How is the World Bank responding to fragile situations? A reflection on the institution's annual meetings

Encouraging and enabling international institutions to better support peace and security in fragile and conflict-affected contexts is a crucial part of International Alert’s work and we have been working with the World Bank on development financing and peacebuilding since 2007. Earlier this month we took part in the Civil Society Forum at the World Bank annual meetings in Washington DC, an event that brings together NGOs and high-level representatives from the bank through panel sessions and discussion groups. 

Fragile reforms

This study highlights a range of insights and opportunities to enhance how the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank approach project financing in fragile and conflict-affected situations.

Redefining ODA: An opportunity for more comprehensive development

The official discussion on widening the definition of official development assistance (ODA) presents an opportunity to recognise formally that development encompasses a broad range of political and societal changes and to incorporate current development narratives which take account of the connection between security and development.

Investing in long-term peace?

                              

Youth, jobs and peace in Africa

Read the report, Real jobs in fragile contexts, hereWith the number of young people in Africa between the ages of 15 and 24 set to double by 2045, there is a real concern over how to provide employment for an increasingly young and well-educated labour force.

Conflict-sensitive aid in Lebanon

International Alert is working with UN agencies in Lebanon to help reduce tensions between the local population and Syrian refugees over healthcare provision.

How might the ancient sages have responded to the latest SDGs proposal?

The Open Working Group released the zero consultation draft of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 212 Targets this week. Examining them from the perspective of four criteria (Is there a coherent narrative, is peace included, is anything obviously missing, and will they work?), I conclude that although the ancient sages might well counsel us to abandon this SDG enterprise as a fool’s errand, there remains room for optimism about the outcomes.