- Sustainable development cannot occur in zones of conflict and violence.
- Fragility, conflict and extreme poverty are inextricably linked and must be addressed together.
- Country leadership, mutual accountability and good governance are crucial elements for success.
Fragility, conflict and violence continue to weaken many countries across the world. The subject of peace is vast but must be tackled because it is crucial to stability and security. An estimated 1.5 billion people live in conflict-affected countries and fragile states, which are also among the poorest and most vulnerable in the world. About 70 % of fragile states have been in conflict since 1989.
About 40 % of official development assistance (ODA) is spent in fragile states and yet these countries are far from achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Fragile states are threats to their own citizens, to their neighbours and to global peace and security. A post-2015 framework must address the root causes of conflict and violence in order to build sustainable peace.
More than half of the aid the EU provides to developing countries is spent in conflict-affected states. The post-2015 framework must recognise that it is impossible to achieve sustainable development in the context of violence, fragility and armed conflict. The EU, together with many international partners, has firmly embraced the approach of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, which focuses on improvement in aid delivery.
State-building and peacebuilding cannot be seen as a separate product or an afterthought, but as a starting point. The international community must remember the link between justice, equity and democratic governance and fragility, violence and conflict. None of this can be done without a strong sense of country ownership that comes with a social dialogue, and enhanced donor coordination and alignment.
There is a gap between theory and practice when it comes to peacebuilding. Despite well-intentioned, valuable agendas, there is still a huge gap between words and deeds. It is not easy to close the gap but it is crucial, especially when it comes to peace and fragility. The international community needs to be accountable for its commitments. International NGOs can play an important role as facilitators, brokers and network providers, connecting local people to the rest of the world.
One iron rule of development is that country leadership must exist or there can be no sustainability. Another is mutual accountability. Unless donors are accountable and demand accountability from their partners, success will be limited. A third is good governance; when comparing countries that are developmentally successful and those that are failing, a major distinction between the two is good governance.
The international community needs to overcome the ‘silo mentality’ between the development and security constituencies, which do not communicate enough. They need to work together throughout the whole cycle of a conflict starting at the early warning phase and through crisis management and conflict stabilisation. Integrated planning is challenging because the planning cycles differ: crisis management is by nature short-term while post-conflict stabilisation is long-term. But integration is important – and it can be done.
‘Fragility is not just about fragile countries. Political instability can reverse gains. Bangladesh is a very good example of a country that is on track to reach the MDGs. But when there’s corruption and political instability, when access to social services is affected, people will take to the streets and riot. When basic rights are denied there will be insecurity.’ El Khidir Daloum, Director of Programmes, Saferworld
An audience member, who identified himself as a victim of the protracted conflict in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, called upon donors to stop pledging development aid to the government of Sudan. He said that if there is to be an honest conversation about preventing conflict, donors must acknowledge that the Sudanese government is using aid money to buy arms that are used against its own people.