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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Making aid effective

We reported in the last e-bulletin that International Alert has been lobbying for changes in the way that overseas development aid works for conflict affected countries. Since that report, we have met a number of other parliamentarians and advisers who are playing a key role in drafting the forthcoming Department for International Development White Paper.

Initiative for Peacebuilding launches new synthesis series

Initiative for Peacebuilding (IfP), a consortium supported by the European Union and led by International Alert, recently launched six synthesis papers which summarise lessons learnt, conclusions and recommendations drawn from evidence-based research conducted in the last year and a half by Alert and its partners.

Alert helps the World Bank to improve its conflict sensitivity in Nepal

On 4th June, the World Bank’s Board of Directors discussed the new two-year country interim assistance strategy for Nepal. The new plan aims to address key elements of the peace process, including the foundations for state building, growth and improved basic service delivery for Nepal’s poor. It includes a clear commitment to improve the sensitivity of Bank-supported projects to the root causes of the conflict and the social tensions in the country.

International Alert welcomes ambitious rethink on aid

This month we welcomed the publication of the UK's new White Paper on International Development, potentially the most ambitious reform of the way British aid is designed and delivered since 1997.

Development thinking develops: DFID’s White Paper and what comes next

It can be safely predicted that ideas and the terms of discussion about international development will change fundamentally in the coming five years. A major policy statement from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) marks an important milestone on this road, though it’s a long way from being the endpoint. In this very long post, I explore the White Paper and a way of taking DFID’s logic forward.

Is overseas development aid working?

These are extraordinary times for those who work in overseas development. We are living through a recession of historic proportions, and yet thus far there are few overt calls for a reduction in overseas development aid. The main questions for the 2010 election will be about public spending: where to make cuts, and how deep should they be? In the past, faced with similar pressures, there would have loud and widely voiced calls for a retrenchment of overseas development assistance (ODA), and a refocusing of government priorities on issues closer to home.

Peacebuilding in Burundi: how peace transitions can work

International Alert supports a series of small post-conflict initiatives in Burundi. And some of the values that motivate these are also dear to the liberal hearts of the international community. Oliver Richmond, in his article 'Liberal peace transitions' on Open Democracy, argues that the grand liberal peacebuilding project has failed.

Event: Moving beyond the Millennium Development Goals

International Alert and the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) will be hosting a panel debate on the future of overseas development aid, Moving Beyond the Millennium Development Goals on September 8th at the RCS in London.

It’s time to take a deeper look at what we mean by 'development' and 'aid'

Heads of State will meet in New York on 20-22 September this year to review progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed by UN member states ten years ago to inspire increased investment and effort to improve people’s lives in developing countries. These include important measures such as infant and maternal mortality, school attendance, household incomes and hunger, amongst others.