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Both government and community organizations are needed: Northern Ireland's experience of reconciliation

Nigel Roberts's picture

In late May I visited Belfast as part of the WDR 2011 roadshow. During my visit, I discussed the report's main findings and recommendations with the Community Relations Council, which focuses on promoting cultural diversity and better community relations between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.

Rebuilding trust and relationships through local processes

Nigel Roberts's picture

Nigel Roberts, co-director of the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report, speaks with AusAid’s ODE Talks. The podcast and transcripts available below and at ODE Talks.

“…if you look at the experience of low-income, fragile states over the last 25 years, the lack of progress in health and education is pretty stunning… No single low income fragile state has achieved or will achieve any of the Millennium Development Goals. And believe me, this is not for lack of trying, it is not for lack of investment in health and education, it is for a lack of success in transforming institutions.”

Afghanistan: the importance of being there

Nicholas van Praag's picture

I spent a lot of time this week hanging out with my friend Edward Girardet. He’s in Washington, D.C. ahead of the launch of his book that traces the history of international engagement in Afghanistan over the past 30 years or so. 

Killing the Cranes is a deeply personal tale that includes Massoud and Girardetan account of Girardet’s brush with Osama Bin Laden before he (Osama) became a household name. He also describes trekking through the Hindu Kush to interview the leader of the United Front, Ahmed Shah Massoud, during the war against the Soviet Union. This photograph captures that encounter.

Girardet has reported on the region ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and has known three generations of aid workers.  I asked him if they had changed.

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.

DRC one year later: rapes continue; perpetrators differ

James Martone's picture

Doctor Bienvenu Kayumba in Goma. Photo Credit: James Martone
It has been a year this week since my reporting trip to eastern Congo for WDR, so I called Doctor Bienvenu Kayumba in Goma to find out what was new.

He  was one of the physicians I’d met in North Kivu last year at Heal Africa- a hospital and health center where raped women can come for free treatment of their physical and psychological wounds.  

 “Frankly, it is increasing, not diminishing,” said Doctor Kayumba of the raping in Goma and surrounding areas. He was speaking on his cell phone after a long day at Heal Africa.

“But it is no longer the armed groups doing the raping, it is unarmed civilians.”
He said the latest rape case at Heal Africa was a ten year old girl who whispered to him she’d been raped by someone “unknown,” and was treated for third degree genital wounds.

The curse of treasure in fragile states

Nicholas van Praag's picture
 
    Bless them.   Photo source Wikipedia.

As people return from the holiday break in early January, the citizens of south Sudan will be voting in a long-awaited referendum.  Polls suggest there will be a big majority in favor of southern independence. Boosting people’s hopes for the new state are its oil reserves worth some $2 billion a year.

Sorting out how the North and South will divvy up the benefits of oil is not clear.  While most of the oil is in the South, the export and refining infrastructure is in the North. Revenues are currently shared roughly 50-50 but there is no agreement yet over the fate of Abyei, a significant oil producing region on the North/South border.

Still, the prospect of oil revenues is central to southern thinking about financing its way to a better future. Assuming the problems with the north are sorted out, are they right to see their natural resource endowment as the basis for future prosperity?

Was Keynes right about fragile states?

Nicholas van Praag's picture

Keynes said that “In the long-run we are all dead.” But for people living in fragile states affected by violence, the short run can be deadly too.

The challenge is to balance swift action with long-term stability and security. The two must be carefully paced and sequenced if we are to make progress, both sooner and later.

Not by bricks alone.

Frustration with the slowness of recovery efforts has focused attention on the short-term part of the story. No wonder. We have seen the promise of peace dashed so often by tardy action on meeting immediate needs.

Look at Haiti. Whoever emerges from the presidential elections will be under huge pressure to get a lot done fast, from controlling the cholera epidemic and rebuilding homes to getting intimidating gangs off the streets and creating jobs.

We've been there many times before in fragile places the world over - whether they are emerging from the devastation of violent conflict, exacerbated in Haiti by the earthquake, or about to plunge into it. Neither national leaders nor the international community have been effective enough in responding to the pressures that lead to conflict or reignite its embers.

Speedy action to meet immediate needs is a good start but it is not enough on its own to solve what is perhaps our greatest development challenge -- giving a stake in the future to the 1.5 billion people who are forced to look on as the middle income countries power ahead, with many lower middle income states on their heels.

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? 

 

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