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WDR 2011

Speaking Out About Conflict—Part 2

Natalia Cieslik's picture

During a recent WDR 2011 consultations event we interviewed leaders from conflict-affected countries about overcoming conflict, building institutions, confidence building, and the role of the international community.

Watch and listen to what Habiba Sarabi, Governor of Bamyan Province in Afghanistan, Emilia Pires, Finance Minister in Timor Leste, Oscar Santamaria, Former Peace Negotiator and Minister of Justice and Foreign Affairs in El Salvador, and Juan Carlos Pinzon, Former Vice-Minister of Defense in Colombia, have to say.

What the %*$& happened here?

Nigel Roberts's picture

Gaza City, January 9, 2010

"I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit. "No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way."

Winter in Gaza

I first visited this place in 1994. Even then, the name was synonymous with misery. What I remember, though, was a crowded, contentious place possessed with energy and, in the minds of many, the hope of an end to 46 years of exile.

    Photos © Natalia Cieslik
Rex Bryan, Yezid Sayigh (from left), and I on the right during our trip to Gaza.

I haven’t been here for four years, and am here on WDR business with Yezid Sayigh (our West Bank and Gaza case study author), Rex Brynen and Natalia Cieslik of the WDR core team. Today, Gaza feels dead. It’s cold. A few green Hamas flags droop from the electricity lines. Much of the damage from the battles of December 2008 has been cleared away, but bullet-strikes run up and down many of the apartment blocks. There is little color anywhere; little of the efflorescent graffiti that once covered walls, few advertizing bill-boards, hardly any of the posters of ‘martyrs’ once claimed by contending political parties. As we drive the length of the Strip, the streets are almost empty.

Only a few Gazans can get out of the Strip now, almost all across the southern border into Egypt. Trade with Israel is a fraction of what it once was. The large modern facility Israel built at Erez to manage the flow of daily laborers is almost empty. Little except basic foods comes in through the Israeli cargo terminals, and only a few cut-flowers and vegetables are allowed out. Everything else comes in across the Egyptian border, most of it through a network of more than 100 tunnels dug by entrepreneurs beneath the fence at Rafahpetrol, cigarettes, bottled water, clothes, cement, allegedly 4-wheel drives, and even a lion and a zebra for the Gaza zoo.

The Yemen Challenge

David Craig's picture

Last month’s High Level Donor Meeting on Yemen in London reminded the international community once more that we have to support this country in need.

Yemen is in trouble. A worrying mix of security-related and economic crises has the potential to destabilize the country. We are now paying more attention to Yemen, because the Al Qaeda-inspired failed airliner bombing in the United States on December 24 originated, at least in part, there. But Yemen is also facing long-standing civil unrest in the north and south, as well as an increasingly deteriorating fiscal situation.

Speaking out about conflict—Part 1

Natalia Cieslik's picture

During a recent WDR 2011 consultations event we interviewed leaders from conflict-affected countries about overcoming conflict, building institutions, confidence building, and the role of the international community.

Watch and listen to what Betty Bigombe, Chief Peace-Negotiator in Uganda, Biong Deng, Minister of Presidential Affairs in South Sudan, Pierre Buyoya, Former President of Burundi, and Tornolah Varpilah, Minister of Health in Liberia, have to say.

Betty Bigombe, Chief Mediator in Northern Uganda Peace Process:

Biong Deng, Minister for Presidential Affairs and Member of the SPLM National Liberation Council, Government of Southern Sudan

Pierre Buyoya, Former President and Senator for Life, Burundi

Tornorlah Varpilah, Deputy Minister of Health, Liberia:

Double tragedy

Sarah Cliffe's picture

I visited Haiti just before Christmas with Nik Win Myint from the WDR team. I talked to community groups in some of the slums that have been most ravaged by drugs and gang-related violenceCite de Soleil, Martissant, Bel-air.

    Visiting a poultry farm in Haiti. Photos © Henriot Nader

The people I met had great hope for the futureafter decades of a debilitating cycle of poverty, violence and state inaction, they finally felt that things were improving. The young men in the pictures here had just started their own farm for chicken eggs, funded through small grants from the government.  "Security is better. The police are better. We are still worried about the future, but this is the first time the state has done something for us. People in this community just need the chance to work, to get training" they said.

Who knows how many of the people I talked to are still alive.  Tens of thousands have died in the earthquake, and those who survive have lost family members, their houses, their possessions, their jobs.  This would have been a tragedy at any timeit is more so at a period when the country seemed to be regaining hope and some confidence in the future.

Lessons from Leaders

Nikolas Win Myint's picture

On 8 and 9 October, 2009, I was fortunate to participate in a lively discussion on issues of conflict and development between leaders from countries affected by conflict and academics in Berlin.  This group of practitioners and experts had been brought together as part of an event jointly organized by the World Bank and Germany's InWent to generate thinking at the early stages of the WDR development process.  What made this event unique for us was the frank and constructive dialogue between two groups of participants that often work in separate realms: on the one hand leaders that had grappled with difficult issues in conflict in their daily lives, such as Timor-Leste's Minister of Finance or the Governor of Afghanistan's Bamyan province, and on the other hand leading academics in the field of conflict analysis. 

In the run up to the event, we had some worries about how such a diverse group would mixwould leaders listen to academics? Would experience bear out theoryand would a group this diverse identify common themes or only a mosaic of problems?  In the end, we spent two days in rich and deep discussions. The exchange between and among leaders and academics combined theoretical frameworks and empirical analysis with a rich description of how these issues play out in practice. This sharing of experience was an ideal starting point for the WDR: the desire to do better by learning from and connecting with diverse communities to enhance our understanding of conflict.  The interviews of some of the participants at this event should give a good sense of the discussions we had:

WDR 2011 – Lessons from Leaders from WDR Video on Vimeo.

It’s complicated

Natalia Cieslik's picture

I have just returned from Jerusalem. It was my first visit to this part of the Middle East, and now I see why people always say that you have to go there to get an idea of what it is really like. It is complicated.

     Interviewing a displaced family in Gaza for the WDR 'Witness' project.

It helped to be traveling with Nigel Roberts, Yezid Sayigh, and Rex Brynen. They combine decades of field experience and academic research, with intimate knowledge of every detail and latest twist in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After spending two weeks with them I am convinced, between the three of them they likely know the shoe size of every actor in the region.
We went to Tel Aviv, Gaza, Jerusalem, Nablus, Ramallah, and Jerusalem again for our consultations on the upcoming World Development Report. We met dozens of people, individually and in groups: journalists, political scientists, human rights activists, doctors, businessmen, students, civil servants, among others. There were hawks and doves, moderates, people who had given up any hope for peace and others who refuse to let frustration win over their beliefs that a solution and peaceful coexistence are possible.