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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Development aid and peacekeeping: what can the money be spent on?

This week it was confirmed that in 2013 the UK will hit the target of spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on official development assistance (ODA). A long-standing campaigning goal for development NGOs and a moral goal for the country have been achieved. And the week before, UK Secretary for International Development Justine Greening said in the House of Commons on Wednesday that she thought it right to look at how DFID "can work more closely with the Ministry of Defence". Let’s take a closer look. from Cameritsar…

Squaring the circle: Is it time to stop this 0.7% nonsense?

People and organisations in the UK’s overseas development sector are getting hot under the collar. This is because the government is not prioritising legislation to enshrine a perpetual commitment to spend 0.7% of UK Gross National Income on overseas development aid. Letters are being drafted, articles are being written, politicians are being lobbied. After all, this issue has cross-party support, so why not just rush it through parliament?  

Justice and legitimacy as key to unlocking peace and development

This month the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, published its Annual Report for 2011 on the Global Programme on the Rule of Law, a key work strand for the agency. It argues that the way local people see their own governments and the actions of donors is the most important factor in reducing poverty and building peace.

Conference on aid effectiveness in fragile contexts in Addis Ababa

International Alert, ISS and OXFAM organised a conference on 'Aid effectiveness in Fragile and Conflict-affected Contexts: the New Deal Framework and Citizens’ Security' on 29-30 May 2012 in Addis Ababa.

Unpicking the language of the New Deal

International aid donors and the poorer governments they fund have overlapping, but far from identical interests. They overlap in their common desire to spend donor money in support of development progress, broadly put. But they often differ on what are the best development choices, and on issues like the need or opportunity for compliance with human rights and good financial stewardship norms.