Strengthening the economic dimensions of peacebuilding

International Alert recently launched a new publication series, part of the project ‘Strengthening the Economic Dimensions of Peacebuilding’.

We produced this series, of four country case studies, to highlight how the economic causes, drivers and impacts of conflict have been tackled in different ways in a number of conflict-affected countries where Alert works. Our aim was to encourage cross-country learning, and make a contribution to what has become a vibrant international debate in the last few years on how to adapt economic development interventions to conflict contexts, to make them conflict-sensitive, and able to support longer-term peacebuilding.

Each case study focuses on a particular aspect of economic recovery, providing a 'snapshot' of particular economic peacebuilding priorities:

  • Uganda: Enabling peace economies through early recovery
  • Nepal: What role for business in post-conflict economic recovery?
  • Sri Lanka: Rethinking the nexus between youth, unemployment and conflict
  • Colombia: The challenges of supporting 'alternative' livelihoods opportunities for peacebuilding

The series also includes a synthesis paper which provides an overview of the project as well as key issues and recommendations for economic development planners and practitioners. In addition to the country case studies, the project will also be producing a series of thematic guides, as well as training resources, in the course of 2009.

The project forms part of International Alert’s wider work, ongoing since 1999, on improving business conduct and promoting an approach to economic activity in conflict contexts that helps to build peace. Our firm belief is that just and lasting peace requires economic opportunities that are open to everyone, including decent work, to redress the economic issues and grievances that fuelled violent conflict in the first place, and to address the economic impacts of conflict on the livelihoods and lives of the population. Indeed, strengthening the private sector and market-based economies has become a key concern for development assistance in recent years, including in countries affected by conflict.

But while the links between peace and the economy may be obvious, it is less clear how economic interventions can be made conflict-sensitive, and what a peacebuilding approach may look like in practice. Understanding how these interventions can interact with conflict dynamics is crucial, given that the allocation of resources and economic opportunities feature prominently as root causes in many conflicts. In fact, external efforts aimed at economic recovery are bound to interact with core conflict issues and the economic legacies left by violence. This can sometimes make the local context worse.

This publication series has received generous financial support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the United States Institute for Peace.