December 9, 2011

What’s in the “New Deal” for engagement in fragile states?

Posted: 16:52 PM UTC

by Fernanda Faria on December 9, 2011

Last week, stakeholders involved in the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding have presented and endorsed an agreement on a “New Deal for engagement in fragile states” at the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan. Fernanda Faria analyses what’s new in the New Deal, its potential and some of the challenges to engage differently in fragile states.

Fragile and conflict-affected countries are often rated among the poorest and least developed. International aid to these countries focuses on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aid effectiveness, which do not address conflict, security and justice issues. While 30% of official development assistance (ODA) is spent in fragile and conflict-affected states, none are likely to achieve any of the MDG targets on time. These states are also more likely to relapse into conflict, making development gains harder to achieve and consolidate.

Since 2010, the g7+, a group of 19 fragile and conflict-affected countries, along with several donor countries and international organisations have been engaged in a dialogue to improve peacebuilding and statebuilding efforts in these contexts, beyond the aid effectiveness agenda. The “New Deal for engagement in fragile states is the result of this dialogue.

For at least a decade, a review and rethink of international engagement objectives, priorities and ‘modus operandi’ in such contexts has been underway now. However, Findings from recent monitoring exercises (e.g. of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and of the Principles for Good International Engagement in fragile states and situations) have shown that little progress was achieved towards commitments. They have also highlighted constraints on both recipient and donor side, as well as the need to refocus goals and priorities beyond the MDGs agenda.

Goals to guide priorities

Drawing on much of those debates and reviews of international engagement, The New Deal sets out five peacebuilding and statebuilding goals to guide priorities and engagements in fragile states: legitimate politics, justice, security, economic foundations, and revenues and services. It also puts a strong focus on the leading role of fragile states in processes of transition out of fragility and on the importance of mutual trust between societies, the state and international partners in order to achieve results.

The New Deal is thus a shared commitment to correct the trajectories of national and international efforts for peacebuilding and statebuilding in fragile states. It includes a commitment by the governments of these countries to be responsible and responsive to their own societies and a commitment by donors to respect and support them in that process.

Donors’ common practice in fragile states have predominantly either focused on building formal state institutions (generally at the central level only, side-lining the local level) or almost completely by-passing the state by delivering aid and services through NGOs. In both cases, donors tend to define the priorities for the country. Local actors play a limited role as they often lack the capacities and vision to design and implement national plans and to coordinate support from international actors. Limited capacities, weak institutions, and often poor political legitimacy and leadership, also partly explain the difficulties of country ownership and donor alignment in fragile and conflict-affected states.

The New Deal won’t change this reality in the short-term, but it is an important mutual commitment:

  • To prioritise legitimacy, people’s security and access to justice, employment, accountability and delivery of services;
  • To change the focus towards local contexts and actors beyond the state, namely promoting inclusive country-led fragility assessments, national plans and country compacts to guide international support;
  • To strengthen efforts towards greater transparency (of domestic resources and aid), timely and predictable aid, build national capacities (of the state and civil society), and risk management to use and improve country systems.

Although emerging economies – whose aid and investments flows to fragile states are significant – remain at the margins of these debates, the New Deal provides an opportunity to bring them in through the lead and commitments of fragile states’ governments.

Measuring will be a challenge

The Monrovia Roadmap on peacebuilding and statebuilding, adopted by the g7+ Group and international partners in June, agrees to develop and adopt a set of indicators to measure progress on the peacebuilding and statebuilding goals. It is noteworthy that these indicators will combine both objective measures and subjective views of people concerned. They are also supposed to focus on local contexts. These indicators should therefore capture the diverse and context-specific nuances of ‘notions of State’ (and their understanding of legitimacy) derived from diverse historical and societal trajectories of statebuilding.

Agreeing upon indicators (and their weighting) will be a considerable challenge for the International Dialogue members, as they need to reflect diversity in peacebuilding and statebuilding projects. If they manage to agree, this in itself will be a measure of the commitment to act upon the changes proposed in the New Deal.


Fernanda Faria is a consultant and programme associate at ECDPM. She has written on peacebuilding and statebuilding in fragile states and donor’s policies in these contexts. She worked, as a consultant, in country consultations for the monitoring of the Fragile States Principles and Paris Declaration, and for the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding.

This blog post features the author’s personal view and does not represent the view of ECDPM.

{ 2 trackbacks }

What happened in Busan? | Owen abroad
December 11, 2011 at 11:54 pm
What happened in Busan? « World in Motion
December 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Donata Garrasi December 12, 2011 at 9:40 am

Hi - excellent article. It captures very well the thrust fo the New Deal and of the work the International Dialogue members, including the g7+ group of fragile states and the members of the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF) are trying to promote. We hope to see many more such artciles as we move into the implementation phase of the New Deal.
Donata Garrasi, Coordinator, International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding


Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Previous post:

Next post: