Published on Development for Peace

3 steps to attack the fragility crisis

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Unify our response, build the ‘New Deal,’ inform wider policy

Like never before, a powerful global consensus is emerging that ‘without peace there is no development, and without development there is no peace,’  and that development gains must include not only material advancement, but also social justice and equity .
This recognition is the foundation for our collective work on fragility and for our collective hopes for Goal 16 of the new Global Goals, in which UN member states pledged to focus on creating peaceful, inclusive societies with access to justice and accountable institutions at every level. 
Together, we see that fragility—in which governance is weak or ineffective, or is seen by local citizens as illegitimate—is a key driver of the crises that strain our current international systems. In particular, we see that an arc of fragile states and regions, stretching across much of northern and sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and into Asia, has ignited civil wars, fueled virulent new forms of violent extremism and triggered historic levels of human displacement due to conflict.
ImageOur common understanding is why the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) was an enthusiastic partner with the World Bank at the just-concluded Global Fragility Forum 2016. We cannot afford to ignore the global costs of fragility , in terms of humanitarian suffering, reversal of development and global security concerns. The World Bank mission to reduce global poverty and the United States Institute of Peace mission to end violent conflict have never been more intertwined.
My great hope is that this year’s Fragility Forum marks a true sea change in three fundamental ways for policy makers, academics and practitioners.

First, I hope we are able to transcend the stovepipes that constrain more effective action and are ready to change our habit of attacking a complex issue with work that is disjoined by its needless separation into conceptual sectors. I hear a readiness to join our work more effectively across relief and development action , and to broaden our development focus from just poverty and economic growth to the bigger knot of fragility—including political inclusion, justice, effective governance, security and peacebuilding. This year’s Fragility Forum brought together an extraordinary cross-section of people from the World Bank, OECD and UN actors, alongside both government and NGO partners. As U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson noted in his opening remarks, the most important word coming from this gathering is the word “together.”
Secondly, I hope we will continue to build on the model of the New Deal for Engagement with Fragile States in which a compact process is designed to provide mutual accountability, broad participation of civil society and coordination among development partners. It articulates five peacebuilding and state-building goals that are premised on the indivisible relationship among reconciliation, inclusive politics, economic foundations and security. The New Deal has been undercut by the slide of some of its members, like South Sudan and CAR, into vicious and violent conflict.  However, these examples only powerfully underscore the inevitable cycles of conflict that emerge when countries do not adhere to the core principles of the New Deal. 
Finally, I am hopeful that we can extend the momentum of the Fragility Forum to inform the policies of the United States.
In only 10 months, a new U.S. administration and Congress will take office, and will face from their first day the interlocking security, humanitarian and development crises posed by fragile states. With more than one billion people living in states deemed fragile, a vital challenge for the next U.S. administration will be to get ahead of crises that routinely emerge from these states in order to save lives and improve global and national security.
So USIP has joined with two other Washington institutions—the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Center for a New American Security—to launch an independent, non-partisan project to research principles and develop concrete recommendations for a strategic, effective U.S. policy response to the problem of fragility.
This project, called The Study Group on Fragility, has recruited a collection of senior advisors—including former members of Congress, senior executive branch officials, and experts from academia, think-tanks, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The Study Group will publish its findings and recommendations this summer.
One imperative of our work at the U.S. Institute of Peace is to find and collaborate with excellent partners. USIP’s work is not done on its own, but with international and local partners worldwide, mediating in war zones, researching new methods for peacemaking, and training others to use them. Another imperative, one that we cite to each other often, is to work every problem from the bottom up and from the top down.
The conversations at this year’s Global Fragility Forum underscore to me that those imperatives—working in partnership and addressing problems from every side—also apply in the vast effort required by all of our institutions to strengthen fragile states and regions. Only in that way can we help their people build the more responsive, inclusive and effective governance that can lead to resilient states and communities, and thus shrink the wave of crises buffeting our world.


Nancy Lindborg

President of the United States Institute of Peace

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