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WDR 2011

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.

Smart Lesson: Combatting the Resource Curse in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Countries


  

Control over natural resources often plays an important role in armed conflicts, either because warring factions fight over access to natural resources or because natural resources help finance one or several of the factions. Recent examples include the several wars fought, in part, over access to oil in the Middle East and wars fueled by “blood diamonds” in West Africa. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) facilitates public control over the wealth generated by these natural resources and limits corruption.

The EITI, launched in 2002 and endorsed by the World Bank in 2003, has provided tangible governance improvements in resource-rich conflict-affected countries. It works with multiple stakeholders—a coalition of governments, companies, investors, international organizations, and civil society organizations — to manage a process of publication and verification of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas, and mining.

Universal principles in revolutionary times

Nicholas van Praag's picture

 

   Demonstrating for the right to rights

I remember a Russian diplomat in Geneva in the 1980s telling me that his country believed strongly in the centrality of human rights. It was just that back in the USSR the hierarchy was different from countries on the other side of the iron curtain: individual rights mattered, but less than people’s collective rights to health, education, jobs and so on.

I was not much impressed; and the collapse of the Soviet Union soon gave the lie to that regime’s paternalistic take on the relative significance of different categories of rights – political, social and economic.  

 

To vote or not to vote

Nicholas van Praag's picture
  

A vote too soon?    Photo © Corbis

The wisdom of elections in fragile places is questioned by those who fear they will exacerbate tensions and provoke the kind of violence we saw in Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti last week.  This poses a big question: whether to plough ahead regardless or to hold-off on elections until conditions are propitious.

While some conflict experts argue it would be better to wait, many citizens are keen to vote. It’s humbling to see the determination of people in fragile countries who put up with threats to their safety and long lines at polling booths, as well as fraud and intimidation.

Is this another example of hope triumphing over experience?  Perhaps, but it also demonstrates people’s desire to have their voices heard and to influence the course of their lives. So we need to think hard before postponing plebiscites.

Electoral politics are always polarizing, no matter where.  I remember watching CNN night after night in my hotel room in Almaty, Kazakhstan during the hanging chad saga that followed the US presidential elections in November 2000.  Even at a distance of 10,000 kilometers, the negative energy was palpable.  After weeks of wrangling, it took US citizens a while to unwind and accept the outcome.

Dangerouser and dangerouser? Aid workers on the front lines

Nicholas van Praag's picture
   Threatened symbol of neutrality

When I was working as a field officer with UNHCR in eastern Sudan in the mid 1980s, the living conditions were tough but we did not fear for our lives.

A couple of years later, a faction of the PLO attacked the Acropole Hotel in Khartoum, the city’s main hang-out for aid workers and journalists.  Four people were killed and more injured.

The aid fraternity was in shock at what they saw as a dagger lunged into the heart of their community.

Today, such an incident would still get headlines but stories of attacks and kidnappings of aid workers are depressingly familiar.

As the amount of overseas development assistance going to countries in conflict or affected by conflict rises, the growing numbers of humanitarian and development staff frequently find themselves in harm’s way.

This trend is due in part to the recurrence of violence.  Research for the WDR shows that many conflict-hit countries experience repeated violent episodes.

The linear progression from war and destruction to peace and development is now the exception rather than the rule.

This means that aid workers are increasingly caught up in the ebb and flow of conflict rather than coming in when the guns fall definitively silent.

The WDR 2011 Flip Challenge!

Nicholas van Praag's picture

Ten cameras…six months…192 countries…thousands of highly committed staff and consultants...the easiest, most user friendly camera available.  The challenge?  To get eye-witness reports on how conflict and violence affects people throughout the world. 

   

WDR 2011 Flip Challenge!

Think of it as a relay race, or the game of “hot potato,” only what you are holding is far hotter than an imaginary hot potatoit is the voice of one person who hopes to be heard.

The WDR Flip Challenge is part of the World Development Report 2011, on conflict, violence, and development.  Like every report, it will be full of data, analysis, and suggestions for action. But all of these are built on one thingthe human story.  We aren’t looking for stories about Bank programs or interviews with experts. 

What we want are the people on the ground, the people who know about conflict and violence because they experience it in their own lives.  Or they never experience it, and that’s a story as well! It is these stories that tell us why we should care about an issue, that compel us to feel empathy and to act.  These are the stories we want to hear.

The rules for the WDR Flip Challenge are simple.  Get a camera, register, film, upload, and pass it on.  You don’t need to be a proour guidelines will walk you through everything you need to know. 

You can send us raw footage, or if you want to get fancy, you can use the flip site to edit, add sound effects, and whatever other bells and whistles you like.  All that is required is some curiosity and a desire to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

If you are interested in participating, please contact us at wdrflip2011@worldbank.org 

SAMPLE CLIP:


UPDATE: The rape of Congo

James Martone's picture

This week President Obama signed the Wall Street reform bill, which contains a key provision against conflict minerals from Congo. This guest post originally appeared on March 29, 2010.

War is officially over in eastern Congo, but the violence continues.  23 year old Amani can tell you.  She was raped last year in the forests of North-Kivu by men she refers to as “rebels,” and has since given birth to a baby girl.  Then there’s 15 year old Neema who was held and repeatedly raped for a week last July outside Goma by an “older man” after being lured to his house by a classmate.  She too will give birth soon. “I want him to be imprisoned for life,” said Neema of her rapist.  “He destroyed my life and I don’t study anymore.”

     Cameraman Justin Purefoy filming displaced Congolese in Eastern Congo. Pictures © James Martone.

I met Amani and Neema at the Heal Africa Hospital and other sites in Eastern Congo as part of a WDR 2011 research mission in February.  The team was looking into the causes and consequences of this conflict that has been going on for over 15 years and killed an estimated 3.5 million people.  I was there with cameraman Justin Purefoy to film people affected by the conflict and document their stories.  The effect of massive sexual violence and overall lack of security were two of the issues we were exploring on video. The films and interviews will be published as part of the Bank’s upcoming 2011 World Development Report.

Mozambique's long post-conflict transition

Nicholas van Praag's picture
  War...           

The most visible sign of Mozambique’s long history of conflict is the war memorial opposite Maputo’s main railway station.  It is designed in the fascist-deco style beloved of European dictators in the 1930s.  Built in 1936, it was a belated commemoration to the Portuguese and Mozambican soldiers who died in the Great War—in clashes with forces from what was then German East Africa.

There is no such reminder of the hundreds of thousands who died in the more recent wars of liberation, which lasted from 1961 to 1974, or the 14 years of civil war that followed.  After so much suffering most people want to forget these years rather than erect public monuments to their memory.

Unlike the on-again off-again nature of so many conflicts today, the peace agreement reached in 1992 by the two main groups, FRELIMO and RENAMO, marked the end of hostilities.  ‘It had become a war of the protagonists, not of the people’, says Dr.  Americo Jose Ubisse, Secretary General of the Mozambican Red Cross.  When the guns fell silent, one million people had died and some 5 million were displaced.

During the intervening years Mozambique has made strides in turning around its fortunes, consistently posting growth rates of 8 percent in recent years—closer to Asian levels than to other African countries. 

This performance has made Mozambique a kind of post-conflict poster child.  So when I visited Maputo last month, the vibrant but run-down capital, I wanted to find out how Mozambique had seized these impressive results from the jaws of state failure and whether all is as rosy as the growth rate suggests.

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