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Starting a Historic Trip with the United Nations

Jim Yong Kim's picture

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo — For too long the people of the Great Lakes region of Africa have suffered from conflict and insecurity. We need to bring peace, security, and development to the region with great urgency to build on an 11-country peace framework arrangement. I am joining with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on a historic trip to the region — the first ever taken together to Africa by the heads of our organizations. Watch the video of my crossing the Congo River, from Brazzaville to Kinshasa, at the very beginning of the trip. 

Violence and the failure of institutions

Marcelo Giugale's picture



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.

Fragile States should not be forgotten while dealing with the international crisis

William Byrd's picture

Fragile States Panel. Photo: Geetanjali Chopra

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.

Fragile States Panel. Photo: Geetanjali ChopraOn 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.