Today’s post is from Donata Garrassi of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding and Brenda Killen, Head of OECD’s Global Partnerships and Policy Division
In May 2011, The Economist featured an image of Osama Bin Laden on its front cover with the title: “Now, kill his dream”. Conflict and instability are constantly in the headlines, from the civil war in Syria, to unrest across North Africa, to seemingly endless bloodshed and turmoil in the Sahel.
We have yet to see this much more inspiring headline: “Now, build peace”. However, many countries around the world are doing exactly that: building peace. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste, to mention a few, are recovering from armed conflict, rebuilding institutions that provide security and justice to citizens, and embarking on political transitions. Their leaders are working hard to maximize the benefits of their natural resources, attract private investment and create jobs for their burgeoning youth populations.
Conflict and instability directly affect 1.5 billion people. But in an interconnected world, local actions reverberate on the global stage in a way that can no longer be isolated or contained. Forging peace is not just a collective responsibility; it is in our collective interest to help countries transition toward peace and resilience. The good news is that conflict-affected and fragile countries, with the support of development partners, have identified tools and strategies for addressing the underlying causes of conflict and laying the foundations for peace.
One of these is the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, a breakthrough agreement signed by over 40 countries and organisations, including the 19 conflict-affected and fragile countries that form the g7+. The New Deal sets out 5 pre-conditions for building peaceful states—the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs)—and provides a practical framework for countries and development partners to assess, prioritise, plan, implement and hold each other accountable.
The New Deal represents a potential breakthrough in the way national and international partners work in situations of conflict and fragility, with implications for diplomatic and political, security, and development interventions. The Secretary General of the United Nations has called upon the member states to work towards the realisation of the PSGs on more than one occasion. Countries such as South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are using New Deal tools to identify dimensions of fragility and peacebuilding priorities. The New Deal is also inspiring civil society organisations from the global North and from the South in their advocacy on the need for healthy state-society relationship as the foundation of sustainable peace.
To make a lasting difference, we need to adopt the New Deal as a “new mindset” for how we address conflict and instability. It needs to be incorporated into national development plans and budgets, reflected in newspaper headlines and speeches, and promoted by civil society activists and business leaders alike. Moreover, the principles that underpin the New Deal must be reflected in the future development agenda that will be hopefully agreed after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) “expire” in 2015.
Development partners can support country transitions toward resilience by fulfilling their commitments to provide quality, timely, and flexible aid. While some countries have achieved the promised target of allocating 0.7% of their Gross National Income (GNI) to Official Development Assistance (ODA), figures recently published by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show that the aid disbursed by OECD countries – as an overall average – is not even half of this. Low-income countries, many of which are conflict-affected or fragile, are the ones most likely to suffer from this shortfall.
While the volume of aid matters, even more important is how it is used. The New Deal and the g7+ group of fragile states help by establishing guidelines for development cooperation. A central concept is that aid should enable countries to assume responsibility for their own transitions and deliver concrete results for their people. The New Deal promotes a new model of partnership that catalyses national ownership and leadership with a long-term vision, as opposed to a “quick win” approach.
The leaders of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, the political forum that produced the New Deal and that reunites the g7+ countries, development partners and civil society representatives, will meet in Washington, D.C. on 19 April. It will be a very good opportunity to agree on concrete actions to put New Deal commitments into practice and into the headlines. Now, build peace.