IPI HomeEventsPanel DiscussionsPires: In Fragile States, War Costs More Than Development


print print  |  share share back back

Panel Discussions - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pires: In Fragile States, War Costs More Than Development

“It is a simple equation,” Emilia Pires, Minister of Finance of Timor Leste, said. “War costs more than development. When I began as Minister of Finance, even I was staggered by how citizen-state contracts could help solidify security, help rebuild lives, and put the state on a path to stability.”

Speaking to a policy forum at IPI on April 18, three high-level officials from fragile and conflict-affected states described their efforts to address the distinct challenges their societies face, emphasizing five Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) as pre-requisites to meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They were addressing a situation where almost one in five people, 1.5 billion, live in fragile and conflict-affected states, none of which has met a single MDG yet.

The officials represented the g7+, a group of 20 fragile and conflict-affected countries that are home to 365 million people. In addition to Pires, who is chair of the g7+, other panelists were Francesca Bomboko from the Ministry of Planning in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ali Dirir Farah, Deputy Minister of Finance and Treasury of Somalia. These experts spoke in the context of the New Deal for the Engagement of Fragile States, which was agreed up at last year’s Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.

Ms. Pires spoke of the experience of her country in establishing stability and preventing further crises. Ms. Pires said that the grievances of armed rebels were addressed by listening to them and providing economic packages. “Many people said we were paying them off,” she said. “This might be true, but five years on, these men have continued to honor their citizen-state contract and there has never been any more trouble from them.” “In Timor Leste, when services began to flow, when pensions started to be paid to the elderly, the sick, the single mothers, when economic growth translated into tangible infrastructure that could help build their communities, schools, parks, roads, people stopped fighting,” she said. “People began feeling justice through just resolutions by the state.”

“Economic reforms and security reforms went hand in hand. Quick wins gave us to the time to make long-lasting change, including change to our post-conflict mentality, which is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome,” she continued. “Donors need to give the government the time and space for these transitional periods. Without this support, the consequences can do significant harm.”

“Let me be clear,” she concluded. “In fragile and conflict-affected countries, it is even more important to attend to our social responsibilities. It does not take technical assistance to figure this out. It takes money. Money that translates to services.”

Ms. Bomboko spoke of the complex situation in the DRC. She said that aid is unpredictable and varies year-to-year and province-to-province. Current aid modalities do not support building national capacity due to the limited trust between donors and governments. Much aid is channeled through other means, data is scarce and provided very reluctantly by donors, she said.

“This is why the DRC welcomes the New Deal,” she said, as it addresses many of these issues. Mr. Farah touched upon similar issues his government has faced with donors. “The experience of Somalia is much worse than other countries that experienced protracted conflict because of the total collapse of central state authority,” he said.

Channeling aid through NGOs and UN agencies, means that “very little external financial assistance was received by the country. This makes it almost impossible for the transitional government to plan expenditure and to implement government projects and programs,” he said.

“The amount of money donors claim to have given in the name of Somalia through its implementing agencies and the reality on the ground of the intended programs are astronomically apart.”

In addition, Helder da Costa, head of the g7+ Secretariat provided opening remarks, saying, “We find basic foundations that are missing. How can we achieve our MDGs for education when our schools have been burned down and our teachers scattered? How can we improve maternal health if state institutions are so weak, vital services cannot be delivered?”

“The New Deal not only talks about the PSGs as a priority in fragile and conflict-affected states, it also talks about the ways we engage with our partners. At its core, development needs to be a country-owned and country-led process using what we call the focus and trust principles,” he said.

The meeting was chaired by IPI President, Terje Rød-Larsen, who remarked that “I’m seated here with a band of modernizing revolutionaries.”

Listen to Global Observatory interview with Emilia Pires >>

Watch event:

The Global Observatory

India-US Cooperation Grows With Obama Visit
The visit is particularly important for efforts related to stability and security in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

Key Global Events to Watch in January
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2015: Ten Multilateral Events to Watch This Year
A list of ten events that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2015, compiled by IPI’s Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

January 20, 2015
Mongolian Foreign Policy Between ''Two Giants''
On January 20, Mongolia’s new Foreign Minister Purevsuren Lundeg visited the IPI Vienna office and gave an informal briefing on Mongolia’s contemporary foreign policy priorities and challenges.

January 20, 2015
Dutch FM Koenders: ''The Security Council Has to Change''
Speaking to an overflow IPI audience on January 20th, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders acknowledged how far the United Nations has come since its inception 70 years ago but said that the organization still “has a lot of growing up to do.”

December 15, 2014
Fathi: Iran and the Struggle Between Hardliners and Reformers
Discussing her new book The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran at IPI on December 15th, author Nazila Fathi said that 35 years after the revolution, Iran is divided between hardliners and a large moderate middle class, but admitted that it is still unclear which of the two sides will gain the upper hand.

View More