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.

Banner Image: 
International Institutions banner
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.

Theme Category Image: 

Navigating complex dilemmas

'The World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development' is shifting the language of international policy on supporting peace and development in fragile and conflict-affected countries. In a briefing for the Bretton Woods Project, Monica Stephen of International Alert examines how the World Bank’s operations need to adjust to support peace and development.

Alert gives evidence to UK Parliament

International Alert gave evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee on International Development yesterday, as part of their formal Inquiry into 'Working effectively in conflict affected and fragile states'.

Moving beyond the World Development Report

Last week the long-awaited 2011 World Development Report: Conflict, Security and Development (WDR) was launched by the World Bank in London – an important stop on the global tour of the report. A poorly attended event took place in parliament swiftly followed by an over-crowded event for NGOs and think tanks.

The 2011 World Development Report: A potential game-changer

We think the latest World Bank report is a 'game changer', which asks fundamental questions about the way in which the international community has been dealing with conflict and fragility. In short, it says we have collectively been getting things wrong and need to change direction.

Aid and conflict

Alert's Secretary General responds to The Times article, 'In development'.