Conflict impact assessment of EU development co-operation with ACP countries: A review of literature and practice

Conflict impact assessment of EU development co-operation with ACP countries: A review of literature and practice

This paper reviews the latest conceptual and practical approaches to integrating a conflict prevention and peace-building perspective into development co-operation. It identifies good practice and lessons learned, necessary for the development of a  Peace and Conflict Impact Assessment (PCIA) tool.

PCIA is a planning and management tool that helps development practitioners to mitigate conflict and promote peace in a systematic manner. It provides an integrated approach to the main stages and levels of a development programme. PCIA is being developed in response to a number of frequently expressed needs: 

  • developing a strategic framework for conflict prevention and peace-building work in a country at risk, based on a thorough understanding of the conflict, that enhances coherence and co-ordination between different actors and instruments
  • identifying and addressing the root causes of conflict and promoting local capacities and opportunities for peace through development co-operation
  • assessing, monitoring and mitigating the potential negative consequences of a development intervention in a latent or manifest conflict
  • assessing and mitigating the conflict risk to a development investment 

A review of existing good practice suggests that conflict-oriented development interventions are most successful when they: 

  • acknowledge the potential for positive change inherent in social conflict, and support channels for conflict stakeholders to find a shared positive definition of peace
  • integrate conflict resolution and peace-building values into programme implementation itself, and rely on ethical principles or codes of conduct for guidance through difficult decisions
  • use a flexible planning framework that allows planners to adapt to different types and stages of conflict and react to rapid changes in their environment
  • co-ordinate a wide range of instruments and actors based on their comparative advantages
  • address security risks, local capacities for peace and the structural root causes of conflict in a balanced manner

A number of key elements for PCIA which address these challenges emerge from the literature. This suggests that PCIA should be an integrated tool that supports decision-makers in analysing information and making strategic choices for development work in areas at risk of violent conflict. The aim is to promote development activities designed to mitigate the risk of conflict and advance peace.

PCIA achieves its full potential when it is integrated into the Project Cycle Management or other planning processes. It should be an instrument that allows for the consultation and participation of a wide range of stakeholders. The following steps outline the main elements of a PCIA tool encompassing the macro and the micro level: 

  • Conflict analysis
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Choice of strategic objectives and instruments
  • Drawing up a country strategy
  • Risk assessment
  • Conflict indicators for monitoring and evaluation