The World Bank has just published its annual World Development Report, something it has been doing for more than three decades. [Disclosure: this economist has been contributing comments to early drafts of the WDR for the past 20 years.] The new volume is about security and development. It says that societies are constantly under internal and external “stresses”—think corruption, youth unemployment, racial discrimination, religious competition, foreign invasion, and international terrorism.
Which comes first in the wake of revolution, bread or freedom?
A Reuters reporter asked about this during the embargoed press briefing last Friday to launch the World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development. What she wondered about was the tough choices of what to deal with most urgently in the throes of revolutions like we are seeing in the Middle East and North Africa.
In other words, should policymakers pay urgent attention to, say, food, jobs and the flow of cash or do justice and political change take precedence?
What strikes me most as we engage further in citizen security issues in Latin America and the Caribbean is the level of interconnectivity that can be found at every possible level.
To begin with, of course, are the criminals themselves. Crucial to the success of organized criminal organizations is their ability to transcend borders and effectively integrate the very diverse and harmful facets of their enterprise. We also know how much the different forms of crime – drug traffickers, gun traffickers, youth gangs -- feed off one another. This is especially salient in Central America and Mexico, two of our team's priorities.
The World Bank employs a variety of specialists in different disciplines, often with abstract and hard to understand titles. Not me. When people ask what I do for the Bank I say “I build roads”. This often brings laughs from other Bank staff, but it’s true.
The World Bank’s Social Development Department (SDV) and Migration and Remittances Unit hosted a brown bag lunch (BBL) on state fragility, forced displacement, and survival migration on September 21, 2010. Dr. Alexander Betts from the University of Oxford presented a compelling argument on the need for innovative institutional approaches to displacement and forced migration as a development challenge. In today’s world of internal conflicts, state and societal fragility, and climate-related threats to food security, constant movements of people are not only associated with political persecution (“refugees”) or the mere desire to improve livelihoods (“economic migrants”), but also with a concept called “survival migration.” According to Dr Betts, this concept refers to people who are forced to move outside of their countries of origin because of an existential threat to their liberty, security, or livelihood systems. Such people do not fall within the existing conventions and agreements related to displaced people. Case studies conducted in Angola, Botswana, among others, illustrate that these migrants are extremely vulnerable groups and that their human rights are often violated in host countries.
Transport projects typically do not include the reduction of crime and violence as an objective, but it could be a collateral benefit from investments in certain equipment and services also meant to improve the operational efficiency of a transport system. One example of this is the case of CPTM, the State suburban rail system for the São Paulo Metropolitan Region which carries almost 2 million passengers per day. CPTM was created in 1992 fr
What can be done to reduce conflict in poor regions? A speech given by Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on Internal Security and Law and Order in 2005, sums up the story of conflict and development: “…development, or rather the lack of it, often has a critical bearing, as do exploitation and iniquitous socio-political circumstances. Inadequate employment opportunities, lack of access to resources, under developed agriculture, artificially depressed wages, geographical isolation, lack of effective land reforms may all impinge significantly on the growth of extremism...Whatever be the cause, it’s difficult to deny that extremism has huge societal costs. Investments are unlikely to fructify, employment is not likely to grow and educational facilities may be impaired. Direct costs would include higher costs of infrastructure creation as contractors build "extortions" into their estimates, consumers may be hurt due to erratic supplies and artificial levies. In all, the society at large and people at large suffer. Delivery systems are often the first casualty. Schools do not run, dispensaries do not open and PDS shops remain closed.”
Reducing conflict and violence is a prerequisite to political stability, which, in turn, is the prerequisite for implementing pro growth policies. Even in a best-case scenario, the presence of low-level conflict constrains the policies governments can implement to promote growth. Policy makers in South Asia have tried various policies to reduce conflict.
Wish you a new year of happiness and prosperity.
Recent events have once again confirmed that security threats will remain a recurring theme in this new decade as in the past decade. To me, security and development seems more of a global public good issue than, say, conflict and development, and has more practical implications in the immediate term than, say, climate change and development. Yet I have not read much on the global development implications of the new security regimes. There is a bit of literature on conflict, but not much on the global development implications of the current security concerns.
Tighter security post-911 has made international travel and trade more cumbersome, costly and time consuming than before. Efforts to track the terrorists by tracking the flow of financing has greatly increased the need for new financial laws and documentation to open a bank account, get a car loan, or simply send money. All countries have increased the scrutiny of foreigners’ legal status and intentions. To what extent such tighter measures have impacted different aspects of globalization – for example, aid, trade, investments, tourism, study abroad, sports, the flow of information and the sharing of technology?
Yesterday an exciting panel of committed global experts and international leaders spoke compellingly about the extreme problems faced by countries affected by fragility and conflict, and what can be done. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Managing Director of the World Bank) asked probing questions to the panel of Paul Collier (The Bottom Billion, and Wars, Guns and Votes), Donald Kaberuka (President of the African Development Bank, former Finance Minister of Rwanda), and George Soros (Open Society Institute, Soros Foundation).
I will write a more systematic summary paper later; here I am just trying to capture some memorable points that struck me from the lively discussion and debate.
On the one hand a sense of optimism, that the problems of fragile states can be addressed, the world is much more aware of these problems, and fragility is not a permanent condition, although it will require much more money and greater accountability, as well as strong leadership in the countries themselves.
On the other hand the recognition that helping countries move out of fragility and conflict is a long-term and thankless task, the dynamics of these countries often put them in a downward spiral, and it is essential to take advantage of windows of opportunity when they arise – whether at the end of a conflict or when there is political change (because once the windows are gone they are gone), and then have staying power. Deterioration can occur quickly, whereas rebuilding takes years and decades. Important not to lose hope.
Don’t bypass the state but rather use aid to help these countries build institutions, was a key message of the seminar.
More money for fragile and conflict affected countries (although it is tiny in relation to what has been spent on the global financial and economic crisis) needs to be accompanied by greater accountability. There are promising ideas, some of which have begun to be put into practice, that need to be scaled up and taken farther.
Afghanistan needs more well-trained Afghan soldiers and better Afghan police, but the question is who will pay for them? The country cannot afford to pay the additional costs out of its own limited budget resources—any further money coming from this source will be at the expense of much less funding for urgent development priorities like educating children, improving basic health, building public infrastructure, etc. Will the international community commit to provide predictable funding for a number of years for Afghanistan’s security sector? This is a critical backbone of the state, whose development is essential to over time progressively replace international military forces which are far more costly. Creating security forces without the ability to pay for them will lead to obvious problems. And while expanding the Afghan security forces, it is critical to ensure that sound oversight and accountability mechanisms are in place.