Yesterday we released the 2011 World Development Report 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. Essentially, we reversed the conventional order of WDR consultations. Instead of drafting the report and then going out to get feedback in the final stages, we worked from the outset with civil society and government reformers in different countries, and with partners in the UN system and regional institutions. They all helped us define the problem, and the scope of the report. We were helped by new technology – we received over 1.2 million responses to an SMS survey in DRC, for example, while people from dozens of countries posted text, photos and videos about conflict on the WDR web. For answers on how to tackle violence we looked above all to societies that have managed to emerge from decades of destructive violence, and to the policy-makers who helped lead these transitions.
This approach made a huge difference to the report. In one broad-based consultation in Beirut last year participants all agreed that weak governance, corruption, lack of voice and exclusion were significant issues for the whole region, and were combining with unemployment in a combustible mix (although no-one at that point felt such issues could be debated openly, or would be listened to by those in authority). The same themes of in justice and lack of economic opportunity were repeated by community groups in Haiti and Nepal, and by young people in South Africa and the West Bank. Those meetings really helped us ground the report in reality.
The report is one thing: but the report per se isn’t the issue. The question is how to bring about change. We believe that the WDR’s analysis can be used to feed local and global debates, and to influence decisions in areas where new approaches to addressing violence are needed --- and so we very much hope that countries grappling with violence will find it helpful, and that policy-makers will use it to drive their reform agendas. We hope it’ll spark global policy discussion, personal debates, web traffic, and blog conversation.