Transitioning from post-conflict to resilience, and the search for active labour market policies and equitable growth in Timor-Leste

colegio_soibada Timor leste
The demographic dividend

Emmanuel Asomba is a development policy researcher working within the nexus of poverty reduction strategies, human development and systematic reviews of public policies and programs.

Connectivity, complexity, and changing relations of power have transformed the way that Timor-Leste is drafting its post-conflict recovery agenda. Against this backdrop, there is an increasing claim by a diverse constituency in the nation regarding the notion of shared responsibility as the central mainstay of its societal format and development structures.

Timor-Leste therefore embarked on a voluntary journey to bring together a coalition of public, business, and civil constituencies, pooling resources to address common societal aims and buttress its country-led planning mechanisms by joining the G7+ platform in 2010. As a country transitioning from conflict, the idea is to shape inclusiveness by tapping into peer-to-peer partnerships (“fragile-to-fragile” support), to institutionalise a framework of cooperation to prime the formation of decent work programmes. This process constitutes a crossover whereby national and regional NGOs, networks of individual employers, and other commercial actors can explore social partnerships, contextualising how public agencies can devise a set of targeted measures to increase sectoral and inter-sectoral cooperation to enhance labour market inclusion.

For the UNDP, this background is relevant in many ways, for example, the role of employers and trade unions to sustain peace across the different stages of the country’s development. In such a case, the role of the economic agent is to have responsibility for anyone, thereby strengthening social ties across the country. This prompts a logical call to enrich empirical analysis looking into how the activities of public and private organisations and firms can harmonise efficiency and equity, to combine development objectives with social justice to attain sustainable growth.

This line of thinking could help broaden the notion of “economic agent”, considering the social structure of work to fully understand the consequences of wage differentials across jobs. This means the implications for well-being in terms of work-choice outcomes and the need for marginalised groups, especially women and youth to have access to decent living standards.

In terms of programmatic interventions and donor coordination, the integration of the New Deal method steered by UNDP offers a very interesting blend, with much attention to mutual interrelations to appreciate the socio-economic context in fragile situations. With a focus on governance and state building, this framework can help scrutinize the impacts of the internal dynamics of cooperation to balance short-term versus long-term objectives in donor programming.

The purpose is to promote the incorporation of adaptive principles for capacity development to take root. As technical assistance is fundamental to peacebuilding and state building, development interventions have to take into account the nature of the local context in Timor-Leste. At this juncture, it means that accountability occurs as a complex chain of relationships where support from UNDP can assist the government gauge policy experiences to strengthen governance and lessen fragility. In other words, tailoring interventions to context can bring more thorough risks-analysis, allowing donors to contribute to long-term sustainability, especially crucial for the government to tap into policy coordination to improve efforts in local-level programming.

As the transition moves forward, the state seeks to handle wider welfare issues to uphold and promote peace and security, particularly considering how to harmonise social spending to align the capabilities of its citizens around the notion of inclusive growth. Linked to this developmental goal is the awareness that development planning has to match the evolving realities of the country, thus suggesting the adoption of more complex patterns of cooperation to enrich stability, accountability, and human development.

Simultaneously, over the years we have witnessed in the country a mounting discussion about the place of youth in the transformation from post-conflict recovery to long-term development. With half (46%) of the population aged under 18, the prevailing concern for policy-makers has been to find a way to galvanize young people as agents of change to improve good governance, and tackle policy-formulation that can engage them in productive and decent employment.

What matters for long-term growth are smart investments to steer a progressive future. For instance, these inputs can be decisive public investments in infrastructure, health, education, and diffusion of a value chain in vocational training as well as technology enabling young people to act on their potential, especially if the state also endeavors to consolidate female labour-force participation.

Consequently, new thinking about these issues comes naturally from the link between population growth, the quality of life, and the organisation of the employment regime for young people. Around 30% of Timorese citizens are between 15-29 years old, offering policy-makers and development partners a transformational lever to target high growth, and ultimately poverty reduction, to make sure the demographic dividend can be used to balance a population bubble, ensuring that most citizens have access to productive work.

For that reason, a substantial strategy is to improve the standards of development of enterprise-based schemes creating a more reliable relationship between education and employment to promote inclusive growth in the country, on the basis that access to employment and education opportunities can help reduce household poverty, enlarge young people’s human capital base, and at the same time link local-level initiatives with local-level actors to enhance the extension of multiparty social partnerships. This is a fundamental departure from traditional welfare-state solutions to harness public negotiations on the concept of employment and equal opportunities, thus allowing freedom of choice to be explicitly exercised.

This model combats disadvantage by increasing investments in human capital and productive systems, and fights discrimination based on people’s earnings and gender. The state should provide guarantees to marginalised groups, women and youth to inspire them to contribute in the labour market, in order to overcome the polarisation, fragmentation, and atomisation of Timorese society. To make it work across all segments of the population, the government has to assimilate sustainable policies involving all the actors in networks exchanging best practices through strategic donor coordination and dialogue.

The logic of the argument is to ensure a smooth transition to results-based monitoring to enhance development effectiveness making sure, for example, that the health system can overcome disparities in services, and deliver basic health packages including family planning; or that national education centres can support the provision of quality education. Over the long-term, these efforts can lead to better wages, and the integration of a responsive labour market whereby optimised employment and self-employment programmes can scale-up access to non-formal training services to stimulate equitable growth.

Useful links

This analysis is the abridged version of a concept note for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bangkok Regional Hub addressing youth employment, livelihoods, and the demographic dividend in Timor-Leste.

OECD and Timor-Leste

International Support to Post-conflict Transition

The state of the state: building confidence, trust and political will

1914 2014To mark the centenary of The First World War, we will be publishing a series of articles looking at what has changed over the last century in a number of domains. In his second article, Alan Whaites team leader, Governance for Peace and Development at the OECD discusses statebuilding and the role of the state.

Charles Tilly famously remarked that states make war and war makes states. The events of 100 years ago would suggest that he had a point. WWI swept away an era of empires, establishing new states and fuelling the rise of both democracy and one-party government. At the same time, the conflict increased the role of state institutions: mobilisation of entire workforces, rationing of food, increased taxation. The state began to engage in the lives of ordinary people in ways that were previously unimaginable – and ways that have left long-term legacies in terms of administrative structures and capacity.

But we should not be misled: the WWI example is far from universal – or persistent. The nature of modern warfare usually turns Tilly’s words on their head: societies making war often unmake the state. Combinations of factions, militias and gangs can emerge to provoke conflict; with state systems frequently torn apart in the process – and the effects can be prolonged. While working in Afghanistan at the end of the past decade, I was struck by the way friends and colleagues reached back to the 1960s in search of examples of government delivery systems. But then this was in a context where at the start of that decade (in 2002) a UN/World Bank preliminary needs assessment suggested that “even at the central level in Kabul, ministries or departments are war-damaged shells, without even the most basic materials or equipment, and with few experienced staff.”

Afghanistan has not been alone. For numerous communities torn apart by conflict, the state of the state can be a significant obstacle to rebuilding. Evidence shows us how the loss of the developmental scale and reach normally attributed to states can have a heavy impact on services and economic growth, even where civil society organisations are working hard to fill the gap. The African Development Bank has tried to calculate the developmental cost of conflict. Their analysis of three African countries suggests that it will take between 19 and 34 years to recover the levels of GDP lost to war and instability. The 2011 World Development Report found that the in countries most affected by violence, the poverty rate was 21% higher than in those not affected. These statistics mask very real human suffering: death, rape, malnutrition and displacement.

States, of course, are at best imperfect and may themselves be sources of predation, abuse and inequity. They may also become vehicles for political discord and exclusion, which in turn foster conflict.  Yet achieving a sustainable end to violence has long been linked to statebuilding – an endogenous process of state-society relations (as defined broadly by the OECD in 2008). This definition points to the importance of responsive country systems that have the potential to encourage trust and confidence, and the capacity to support inclusive politics.

The important role of states in enabling political settlements to develop puts a premium on the capacity of government systems. When participants met at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan in 2011, they committed to using developing countries’ own systems by default when working on public sector issues. This implied a need to think differently about supporting state-society relations – a need that was in keeping with experience. A 2010 OECD report on how to avoid doing harm when supporting statebuilding found that the tendency to work through parallel (non-state) systems can have damaging effects.

The debate, however, remains contentious and is often couched in terms of risks – such as risks to providers of development assistance, although the risks run both ways. Fragile states have much to lose when resources flow through parallel or off-budget, mechanisms. In 2011, aid represented 104% of the GDP of Afghanistan, yet only 12% of it was delivered on-budget. A World Bank report indicated that much of the aid was delivered through parallel delivery systems (such as Provincial Reconstruction Teams), leaving legacy problems for the government in terms of co-ordination, maintenance and sustainability. Additionally, by keeping a tight hold on the use of development resources, external actors may actually inhibit the growth of responsive state society relations.

Recent research has challenged the assumption that certain types of service delivery – favoured by aid organisations – automatically build legitimacy and confidence in post-conflict states. One implication is that rather than delivering traditional development formulas, what matters for peacebuilding and statebuilding is responding to public fears, wishes and aspirations. To meet public demands, however, a state needs the freedom – and political will – to prioritise areas that will build confidence and trust, which are not necessarily those areas selected by consultants, advisers and funders. Yes, supporting states in determining their own priorities – in consultation with citizens – and then resourcing them to deliver does involve considerable risk for the funder, sometimes both financial and reputational. Yet one lesson from WWI is that conflict can either build or debilitate the responsiveness of states – and without confidence, political will and trust, it can become part of a prolonged and destructive cycle.

Useful links

OECD work on peacebuilding, statebuilding and security

Now, build peace

Find out more about the New Deal between fragile states and partners
Find out more about the New Deal between fragile states and partners

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.

Useful links

OECD work on conflict and fragility

Evaluating Peacebuilding Activities in Settings of Conflict and Fragility

International Network on Conflict and Fragility

War or Peace in Heglig, South-Sudan?

They're right to be worried

Today’s post is from Erwin van Veen of the International Network on Conflict and Fragility, established in 2009 as a subsidiary body of the OECD Development Assistance Committee and Ann Fitz-Gerald, a senior academic with Cranfield University’s Department of Management and Security.

The excitement in Juba when South-Sudan declared its independence in 2011 has given way to anxiety now that the two Sudans seem close to falling into the “conflict trap” where countries with recent experience of conflict are more likely to fall back into conflict. On April 10, the South Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) took control of Heglig, an oil town on the border between Sudan and South-Sudan. It is unclear whether this is another incident in a long series, or the spark that will explode the powder keg. But it is urgent to assess whether anything can be done to prevent a slide back to violent conflict.

The natural response of the international community when faced with such escalations of violence is to call for restraint and dialogue, which is precisely what the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, the US government and the African Union’s mediator Thabo Mbeki have done. However, to assess whether this call for dialogue is likely to be heeded, at least two questions need to be answered.

First, how much pressure is the international community willing and able to exercise? This is difficult to assess from the outside, but it is likely that key global players such as the US and UN may prioritize Syria and Iran over Sudan. Regionally, the situation is hardly more favourable with Kenya and Ethiopia embroiled in Somalia and Egypt focused on domestic issues. Libya’s chaos ensures a ready supply of highly mobile manpower and weapons, as evidenced by the situation in Mali. Calls for dialogue may sound louder than the pressure and support the international community can actually generate.

Second, is dialogue welcomed by participants? Political dialogue requires a sufficient degree of commitment from both parties to have a chance of success. Several considerations must be taken into account here. To start with, the trail of broken agreements and promises between Sudan and South-Sudan is a long one and mistrust runs deep.  Recent analysis suggests that the SPLA has been stockpiling weapons and that both the SPLA and the Sudanese Armed Forces are arming South Sudanese rebel militia groups. However, little reliable analysis is available on what exactly is happening in the contested border areas. One also needs to take into account that South-Sudan has limited diplomatic capacity to tell its side of the story. Publicly, however, both sides state they welcome dialogue, which the international community can capitalize on. Yet it is also clear that they are gearing up for other scenarios.

In addition, South-Sudan may well take the view that it now must defend its hard-won independence. The country took a drastic step in January by shutting down its oil production in protest over transit fees, and escalation may well be one of its few strategic options left. The South has proven before that it can survive with food distribution lines cut off and oil wealth denied – large parts of its territory have no electricity anyhow – but its leaders would have to make radical political and financial decisions and be accountable to their people for the ensuing hardship. South-Sudan’s domestic peacebuilding and statebuilding agenda would certainly suffer setbacks, its recent commitment to the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding notwithstanding.

And yet, on the face of it, there seem to be sufficient common interests to provide a basis for dialogue.  For one, the human suffering and economic damage of renewed conflict will be huge. Collier and Chauvet have conservatively estimated the domestic and regional cost of a civil war to amount to about $85 billion. Two thirds of the economic damage resulting from states descending into conflict accounts for external spillovers that hurt neighbours. This is the figure against which Sudan, South-Sudan and their neighbours must gauge their appetite for dialogue and war.

In short, the signs are not hopeful that calls for dialogue can or will be heeded. What can the international community do to help prevent another war? Three lessons stand out from the international intervention in the FYR Macedonia in 2001, one of the most successful examples of conflict prevention.

Co-ordinated, fast action between the OSCE, NATO and EU proved critical for an integrated political-security response that was sufficiently context specific. In the case of Sudan, it would be easy to argue that UNMIS and the AU need to swiftly deploy peacekeeping troops into disputed areas like Heglig and that their mediators must immediately commence facilitating a longer-term process to resolve the range of outstanding issues.  However, a lesson from the last few years is that third party intervention, of the UN in particular, has not always been welcomed by Sudan. Moreover, President Kiir stated on April 12 in the South-Sudanese parliament that he had rejected calls from several international leaders, including Ban Ki-Moon, to pull his troops out of Heglig. Hence, a leading UN role near the contested border seems unlikely. In keeping with the model which kept the pre-Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) talks on track, an alternative option could be that the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) partners’ forum steps up and provides an AU-led initiative with logistical, financial and advisory support. The UN could consider supporting this quietly from behind the scenes.

Strong leadership is essential. Kenya kept the many pre-CPA talks on track and helped realize several goals towards the CPA, such as the Machakos protocol of 2002. Such leadership was also a key ingredient of the successful international intervention in FYR Macedonia, where Mr Van der Stoel, personal envoy of the OSCE chair, enjoyed the confidence of all parties. Kenya may not be able to fulfil this role again at this point. In that case, Ethiopia remains one of the few parties trusted by both sides. If it could convince the presidents of Sudan and South-Sudan to work towards a political agreement, the tide might be turned and Ethiopia would render the region a very valuable service. Given the trail of broken promises, however, the conflict must be addressed at the highest levels, and it would help if both sides could refrain from any aggression towards Ethiopian peacekeepers patrolling Abeyei.

Finally, the intervention in FYR Macedonia showed that confidence building is vital. This could begin with credible and verifiable information being collected and shared from the conflict-affected border area. Rumours spread quickly, feeding distrust and possibly catalyzing ill-considered action. An international monitoring mission, possibly IGAD sponsored and AU-supported, might be a way out of this conundrum – but speed will be of the essence.

Useful links

OECD work on peacebuilding, statebuilding and security

Bringing Stability to Southern Sudan

Rachel Flynn is a PhD student inLSE’s Department of International Development. Her thesis is Southern Sudan’s periphery: state-building in fragile border regions. The world is currently focussed on the unrest at Southern Sudan’s border with its northern cousin, but Flynn argues that it is just one of several border issues the new state will have to tackle.

The killing of nine Kenyans by a group of Southern Sudanese in a remote region of the Southern Sudan-Kenya border on 15 June serves as a potent reminder of the extremely volatile and potentially explosive nature of the nascent country’s international borders.

Given the history of Southern Sudan and the often nomadic nature of many of the groups living on its periphery, its international borders have tended to be weakly defined. It is this lack of clear demarcation, coupled with the neglect regularly experienced by border-dwellers, that has the potential to destabilise Southern Sudan.

The conflict that resulted in the recent deaths of nine Kenyans has been playing out over a long period of time between the Toposa of Southern Sudan and the Turkana of Kenya.

The crux of the issue is that because nomadic pastoralism is their main livelihood and they live in regions increasingly prone to drought, these groups need to share dry season pasture and water points.

Historically, conflict over this resource-sharing was managed and resolved locally, but state intervention has led to an escalation of the conflict, creating a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ scenario for the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS).

This is not the only border region that is proving recalcitrant. Recently in Nimule, a vibrant town bordering northern Uganda, the government’s attempts to stop locals using Ugandan Shillings instead of Sudanese Pounds led to such ferocious opposition, including the complete closure of the town’s market for a fortnight, that ultimately the government had to acquiesce.

The use of Ugandan Shillings is only one symptom of this peripheral region being more integrated into the Ugandan economic society than the Southern Sudanese one.

This failure of GoSS to exert control over its currency is symptomatic of the state’s weak presence and authority at its international borders.

There are countless other examples of state weakness – the continued presence of the Ugandan militia group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, on the Central African Republic border; ongoing child abductions in Jonglei State bordering Ethiopia; and increasingly violent and fatal cross-border cattle-raiding on the Kenyan and Ugandan borders, to name just a few.

At the moment, all eyes are on the north/south border as tensions mount ahead of Southern Sudanese independence on the 9 July. However, it is not the only border that poses major challenges to the Government of Southern Sudan as the country embarks on its nation-building project. Furthermore, it is not the only border region that deserves attention, a point that GoSS, the international community and the aid industry would do well to remember.

Useful links:

OECD Development Centre work on Africa

Africa at LSE

Afghanistan at the crossroads

Click on the image to go to the Kabul Conference website

As the Kabul International Conference on Afghanistan brings together representatives from over 70 partner countries, Sarah Cramer and Asbjorn Wee of the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate look at what’s been achieved and what remains to be done 

Nine years after the international community supported the establishment of a new government, Afghanistan now stands at a crossroads.

In the midst of questions about the future of the international military operation to stabilise the country, the first international donors conference to actually take place in Kabul will hopefully result in the acceptance of the first ever Afghan government-led plan for improved development, governance, and stability.

Afghanistan has been the testing ground for donor efforts to increase aid effectiveness and mutual accountability in post-conflict situations. Assessment of post-conflict needs has resulted in the establishment of a joint plan, pooled funding instruments, budget support, etc. Importantly, it has also been the laboratory for improvements in “whole-of-government” approaches to stabilisation and development, such as through the use of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs ). The conference as such is an opportune moment to take stock of these experiences and highlight changes needed.

Afghanistan was one of the six countries that participated in the 2009 monitoring survey of the Fragile States Principles (FSP). This process brought different stakeholders together for a frank discussion about how donors are adhering to the FSPs, and now seems an apt time to review the five key principles identified by participating stakeholders as most pertinent for Afghanistan, as the Afghan Government and donor countries gather for this important stage of the “Kabul Process” of shifting toward full Afghan leadership and responsibility.

Take Context as a Starting Point (FSP 1): While there is a growing consensus that taking context as the starting point is essential for better engagement in Afghanistan, opinions diverge on what that context is, some seeing Afghanistan as a country at war and others seeing the country in post-conflict terms. A unified understanding of context will need to be developed in order to achieve a coherent approach for donors and the Afghan Government.

Do No Harm (FSP 2): This principle has been violated repeatedly in terms of security, loss of life, corruption and the perception of the state. The need to “Do No Harm” has an impact on all aspects of the reconstruction process: security (reform and training of security forces, long lasting impact of foreign military intervention); governance (support – or lack of it – to national systems, parallel implementation units, and corruption); economic (market distortions on salaries and imports, misguided economic strategies); Social (discrimination/exclusion).

Statebuilding as the Central Objective (FSP 3): State-society relations are still regarded as the biggest missing link in the reconstruction process. The international intervention of the past nine years has created both weaknesses and strengths in the legitimacy of the state (e.g. shifting or un-coordinated policies; ambivalent impact of the military intervention). The unpredictability of aid and the limited discretionary funds available to government contribute to uncertainties in funding the development part of the national budget, and affect the consolidation of the government priorities and reach.

Recognise the links between political, security and development objectives (FSP 5): Many stakeholder participants of the monitoring survey felt the overarching political and development agenda is overly influenced by security and stabilisation objectives in the field, resulting in development actors having to adjust their initiatives based on evolving political agendas, rather than a need-based development agenda (as outlined in the “whole-of-government” approach of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy ANDS). In other words, there should be a greater balance of the 3Ds (Defense, Diplomacy and Development).

Align with local priorities in different ways in different contexts (FSP 7): the 2009 monitoring survey of the FSPs identified increasing awareness of the need to support and use the national frameworks – such as the ANDS – more extensively. Concern remains however as to the degree to which PRTs are aligning their civilian activities to local development plans.

From the above, it seems clear that donors will need to improve their efforts to actually implement the FSPs.

Looking forward, the proposal to promote more effective utilisation of international assistance thorough better alignment of international aid with government priorities and the channeling of increased assistance through the Afghan national budget seems particularly interesting. The challenge is to find mechanisms for channeling funding that build rather than undermine government ownership, while at the same time facilitating accountability and adhering to minimum fiduciary standards. “Joint accountability” or mutual accountability mechanisms are promising in this regard (e.g. the case of Liberia).

Secondly, the fact that the new plan highlights critical peacebuilding and statebuilding priorities is promising. Many of these priorities align with those cited in the Dili Declaration, which identifies seven peacebuilding and statebuilding goals as stepping stones to reach the MDGs in conflict-affected and fragile states.

The experiences of Afghanistan and other signatories of the Dilli Declaration will provide important evidence for the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness to be held in Busan, Korea from November 29 to December 1st 2011. The issues being discussed at this conference on Afghanistan represent a growing and increasingly central challenge for donors and developing countries alike as they seek to make aid – and all development policies – effective.

Useful links

OECD work on conflict and fragility

Aid statistics