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Meeting Notes - May 14, 2004

Strengthening the Security-Development Nexus: Assessing International Policy and Practice Since the 1990s

Agnas Hurwitz and Gordon Peake, rapporteurs

 

 

From the Executive Summary: Intrastate conflicts have become a major international concern in the last decade. Significant advances have been made by the international community in addressing the causes and consequences of these conflicts, leading to a reconsideration of the relationship between security and development. International actors are increasingly aware that these are interdependent and an integral part of comprehensive conflict-management strategies. Yet, more research is needed on the conceptual underpinning of the security-development linkage, and on its implications for project analysis, planning, and implementation.

Three key sectors are regarded as essential for building sustainable peace and have generated extensive international programming: governance, security sector, and rule of law. Rebuilding state institutions and enhancing their administrative capacity on the basis of good governance principles is now a key priority for most international actors. An effective, credible, and accountable security sector is also crucial for conflict management. It provides an environment safe and secure enough to enable other initiatives a chance of taking root. Similarly, (re) establishing the rule of law through judicial and legal reforms is regarded as a prerequisite for the development of stable and peaceful societies.

A common theme emerges across the review of sectoral programming by international actors: the policy commitments to integration have yet to be systematically mainstreamed into programming. Achieving reform requires disentangling thick Gordian knots of management, leadership, attitudes, established behaviors and lack of public trust. However, systemic blockages do not alone explain poor programming outcomes. Conflict management design is often alien to the prevailing context, in part because there is insufficient engagement of local actors. Coordination among the many external agencies involved is rare, even within the sectors themselves. At the same time, efforts are burdened by unrealistic expectations that do not match the level of funding and staffing available.

Realism and humility are required: the international community must do better rather than more. Reorienting these sectors is a difficult and long-term endeavor. Institutions need to learn lessons from past practice and devise strategic approaches. Solutions must be rooted in, and appropriate to the contexts within which they take place. The missions planned for Burundi, Ivory Coast, Haiti, and Sudan will determine whether policy commitments to comprehensive and integrated conflict management can parlay into reality on the ground.

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