It will be difficult for fragile states to achieve peace, stability, and sustainable development unless institutional silos containing security, diplomacy, and development are broken down. This was the key conclusion at a policy forum held at the International Peace Institute on April 22, 2013, organized by the Permanent Mission of Timor-Leste to the UN, the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the UN, and IPI.
The forum explored how lessons from the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States and the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding can inform the post-2015 development agenda. The discussion featured the co-chairs of the International Dialogue, Timor-Leste’s Minister of Finance Emilia Pires, and Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation Christian Friis Bach.
Minister Pires stressed the significance of the New Deal and lauded the inclusion of fragile states in the post-2015 development agenda, noting that, “In the International Dialogue, the G7+, we’re given a space to actually be able to sit at the same table with our development partners and talk like equals.”
Minister Friis Bach argued that development partners should work with state institutions even if they are weak. “We need to build the social contract in fragile countries between a state and the people, a contract that is shaped by active state engagement in building schools and health clinics and roads and all that it takes to shape development, and only if we manage to build this social contract will we get any kind of hope for stability, security and prosperity.”
The event was moderated by Maureen Quinn, Director of Programs at IPI.
The follow insights were offered:
1. The g7+ and the New Deal are country-driven; states voluntarily join and conduct their own fragility assessments that open important conversations on how best to use limited funds. The International Dialogue provides an equal platform for g7+ states and donor countries. Development partners can improve implementation by adhering to national priorities and plans and supporting national ownership and leadership.
2. The g7+ countries are pushing forward the New Deal, but donors and international organizations are not delivering fast enough. More risk analysis is needed to develop better risk management tools. Donors can be transparent about risks while stressing the necessity of engaging in fragile states. For example, allowing the government of Somalia to drive priorities and deliver aid, even in its infancy, is critical for long-term legitimacy and capacity-building especially in rural regions.
3. While donors have a great deal of technical expertise, fragile states are the experts when it comes to conflict. Fragile-fragile cooperation, not just South-South cooperation, is needed to further develop this expertise and new development approaches. For instance, through the International Dialogue, fragile states are testing their own indicators.
4. When guided by the New Deal, development partners can contribute to building the social contract between citizens and the state. For example, in Afghanistan, increases in education and school enrollment have improved citizens’ perception of the government.
5. Civil society and private sector engagement is crucial in fragile states. An inclusive approach can best address security and development challenges. Participants agreed that the post-2015 process is already more consultative than the creation of the Millennium Development Goals.
According to the discussion, some donor states once believed it was too dangerous to combine security and development work. Today, many believe the risk of not engaging fragile states is far greater than the risk of doing so.