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The World Region

WDR launch - Continuing the Conversation

Sarah Cliffe's picture

Yesterday we released the 2011 World Development ReportClick on the image to watch the video. on Conflict, Security and Development. The report isn’t an end in itself -- it’s intended to fuel a continuing conversation on ways in which societies can escape destructive cycles of violence.

The report describes how injustice, corruption,unemployment, bad governance and human rights abuses can precipitate violence, and how confidence between the state and its citizens and the creation of legitimate institutions can resolve it. These findings emerged less through our analysis and policy documents than through the consultations we held around the world.

What I Learned from the WDR

Nigel Roberts's picture

I came to the World Development Report with years of field experience in conflict-affected countries, but I learned some startling things from the exercise.

One is that violence today is very different from the violence of the Cold War era. Another is that how to escape from persistent violence isn’t something we can really learn from academic or policy literature — we need to listen to those who have managed actual transitions from violence to stability.

Modern violence

When I joined the Bank in 1981, Cold War politics dominated the debate on violence. Proxy wars between the US and its allies and the Communist Bloc were playing out across the world. Researchers and policy-makers, caught up in this global contest, focused on the wars that formed the pieces of this jigsaw. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the eclipse of Soviet power, a great deal changed. There was a brief surge in the number of civil wars in the mid-1990s, but since then the incidence of “conventional” civil war (wars for political control of the state) has declined. Inter-state warfare is also rare now.

What I Learned from the WDR

Nigel Roberts's picture

I came to the WDR with years of field experience in conflict-affected countries, but I learned some startling things from the exercise.

One is that violence today is very different from the violence of the Cold War era. Another is that how to escape from persistent violence isn’t something we can really learn from academic or policy literature — we need to listen to those who have managed actual transitions from violence to stability.

Modern violence

When I joined the Bank in 1981, Cold War politics dominated the debate on violence. Proxy wars between the US and its allies and the Communist Bloc were playing out across the world. Researchers and policy-makers, caught up in this global contest, focused on the wars that formed the pieces of this jigsaw. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the eclipse of Soviet power, a great deal changed. There was a brief surge in the number of civil wars in the mid-1990s, but since then the incidence of “conventional” civil war (wars for political control of the state) has declined. Inter-state warfare is also rare now.

Elections and their limits

Nicholas van Praag's picture

We have heard many calls this past week for free and fair elections to create order, or at least legitimacy, out of frustration and rage. But elections may not always do the trick -- or the many tricks -- that people expect of them. In this interview, Professor Jack Goldstone of George Mason University, who authored a paper for the WDR on Representational Models and Democratic Transitions in Fragile and Post-Conflict States, discusses the limits of the ballot box as a tool of reconciliation and the conditions necessary for elections to play their part in complex transitions.

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Encouraging leaders to do the right thing

Nicholas van Praag's picture

“Spare the stick, spoil the child.”

Rewarding the rewardable

That was the advice from proponents of the tough love approach to parenting that prevailed in Victorian times.

 

Plus ça change. Looking around the world today, encouraging leaders in fragile states to do the right thing, whatever that might be, is more about punishing them for erring in the performance of their governance duties than rewarding them for doing good.

 

There is a panoply of international sanctions to punish leaders who abuse human rights, undermine constitutionality or indulge in corruption. Some are regional, others global. Some are formal, others informal. Whatever their provenance or legal standing, the stick remains the instrument of choice.

 

Mechanisms to recognize or reward good leadership are few and far between. Yet leaders are human and, unless they are beyond redemption, they are more likely to respond to recognition and rewards than sanctions and reprimands.

 

The Nobel Peace Prize and the Ibrahim Prize are both strong incentives and could be emulated to acknowledge the contribution of leaders who consistently do well.  Why not find ways, for example, to reward ministers who make a lasting impact on corruption or top brass in the military who reform the security sector peacefully? 

 

Overcoming past traumas to build a stable future

Nicholas van Praag's picture

Skulls of Khmer Rouge victims. Photo by Adam Carr, February 2005.

If your child is murdered or your friend is tortured or someone tries to kill you, it is tough to forgive and forget.   Animosities that spring from these kinds of brutality run deep. Yet moving on emotionally and psychologically is an important part of rebuilding society after the trauma of conflict and violence.

 Different societies deal with these things in different ways. This week Hilary Clinton visited a former prison in Cambodia where thousands were held before being sent to their deaths in the killing fields. She urged the authorities to proceed with trials of the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge so that the country can ‘confront its past’.

This followed the decision by Prime Minister Hun Sen that there would be no more prosecutions after the trials of four senior Khmer Rouge leaders already charged.  The prime minister says the country needs to bury the past. Ms. Clinton argues that a country that is unable to confront its past is a country that cannot overcome it.

 

The same day, there was another story describing how East Timor’s President Jose Ramos Horta plans to free Gastao Salsinha, the former rebel who shot and badly wounded him in 2008. The UN Secretary General, rights groups, and the opposition have reacted to the decision with dismay, saying it will undermine the rule of law.

 

For President Horta, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, it is about mercy and reconciliation. With internal tensions still strong in his impoverished Asian nation, he believes offering clemency is an opportunity to consolidate peace and stability which outweighs arguments for punitive justice.

 

Is there a right approach to this thorniest of post-conflict problems? Research for the WDR finds that over the last three decades almost 40 countries have implemented various measures to redress serious human rights abuses.

 

Paul Collier: New rules for rebuilding a broken nation

Daniel Maree's picture

Like you, we sometimes spend our lunch-breaks catching up on old TED videos – especially when one of our Advisory Council members is involved!

Check out Paul Collier’s TED@State talk in which he explains the problems with current post-conflict aid plans, and suggests three ideas for a better approach.

 

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Collier is Professor of Economics and Director for the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. His work focuses on the causes and consequences of civil war, the effects of aid, and the problems of democracy in low-income and natural-resource-rich societies. He addition to serving as Associate Professor at the Université d'Auvergne, and Fellow of the Center for Policy and Economic Research in London, Collier is also a member of the WDR 2011 Advisory Council.

 

Clare Lockhart and Ory Okolloh on "Making States Work Better"

Daniel Maree's picture

"New Media and Conflict" is our ongoing series which explores the affect of new communication technologies on issues of conflict and development.

Last Tuesday (Sept. 7), the Grand Hyatt Washington was abuzz with the Gov 2.0 Summit, which brought together innovators from government and the private sector to highlight technology and ideas that can be applied to “the nation’s great challenges.”

 

One session we found particularly interesting was "Making States Work Better" featuring Ory Okolloh, founder of the groundbreaking “activist mapping” platform Ushahidi, and Clare Lockhart, founder of the Institute for State Effectiveness, co-author of Fixing Failed States, and author of two input papers for the 2011 World Development Report.

 

Reflecting on their post-conflict experiences in Afghanistan and Kenya, respectively, Lockhart and Okolloh stressed the importance of building institutions that provide effective and accountable security, justice and economic prospects.

 

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Meeting the ‘Conflict Community’

Sarah Cliffe's picture

The World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Development is an opportunity to reflect on lessons from experience in preventing and resolving conflict. For me personally it is also an opportunity to work with people I have come to respect a great deal—in government, civil society, international institutions and academia.

We have just completed a first round of brainstorming meetings—with our Advisory Council, with researchers who work on conflict, and with reformers from governments and civil society who are fighting to overcome the legacy of conflict or combat conflict risks in their countries right now.

I had a concern when I took on this project that we would end up producing yet another bureaucratic report and holding a lot of meetings on a crucial issue without delivering any action. Our first brainstorming sessions helped me to see that there is a huge demand for a process which brings real action on conflict and development. 

World Development Report 2011—Not a Cookbook

Nigel Roberts's picture

Many leaders and practitioners familiar with the challenges of delivering in fragile and conflict-affected states are urging us to come up with practical suggestions for them. We in the WDR Team feel we have to be careful not try and develop some set of 'conflict recipes', though: this would mean falling into the trap that characterizes a lot of institutional development work by external parties (i.e. that it is based on prescriptive models and is insufficiently adapted to real-life situations of fragility and conflict). Rather than a cookbook, then, we are shooting for an approach that shares insights and experiences from all types of situations, and points to those that have worked well and could prove useful elsewhere.

For a summary of the purpose and content of the upcoming World Development Report 2011, please take a look at my video:

WDR 2011 - Not a Cookbook from World Bank on Vimeo.