A member of a self-defence group in the village of Sambaye, Central African Republic. Flickr/Pierre Holtz. Some rights reserved.
Next month a conversation in a room in New York will greatly impact the lives of billions of people around the world. This conversation will occur in May, when the United Nation’s High-Level Panel (HLP) advising on the global development framework beyond the 2015 expiration date of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will submit its recommendations to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The panel’s findings and recommendations will focus political attention on matters of global significance including poverty, economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. These inputs, along with the extensive discussion they will generate until 2015, will shape the next set of development goals and, most importantly, will greatly impact the lives of those facing the world’s most adverse conditions.
As the clock ticks, it is these people we must ensure are at the heart of the conversation between the HLP, the UN Secretary-General, and the members of the United Nations family. It is an inescapable fact that the MDGs have not - and will not - be achieved in many parts of the world. And nowhere is this challenge is more pronounced than in fragile and conflict-affected countries: no low-income fragile state is expected to reach a single MDG.
Any future development agenda must address the previous failings in these countries to facilitate the completion of the existing MDGs and then set more ambitious targets. At a minimum it must recognize that peace is a global ambition, as the UN Charter and the Millennium Declaration have already established when they were passed in 1945 and 2000 respectively.
To comprehend the global significance of the future of fragile states there are two crucial points to acknowledge. The first is that there are currently 1.5 billion people living in fragile and conflict-affected states; one in four of the global population. The second is that half the number of people living below the poverty line of 1.25 USD a day will be found within those states by 2015. These facts are especially pertinent for the post-2015 agenda, demonstrating that international development assistance will continue to play an important role in countries affected by conflict and fragility, in spite of the marked drop in aid levels last year. The poverty eradication goal upon which there is general consensus will never be achieved if the challenges and concerns of countries affected by conflict and fragility are not addressed and if future development agendas do not prioritise and fund the right goals.
The HLP does not have to look far for an approach that makes relevant provisions for fragile states, as one already exists, advocated for by the very countries for which they are intended. The g7+, a political club of fragile and conflict affected states, developed the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States (New Deal) along with a group of committed development partners in 2011. The New Deal recognises peace, justice, security and other related governance dimensions as development objectives, builds accountable partnerships, and establishes a new model for country-owned and country-led transitions from conflict and fragility. The HLP and the other key stakeholders and processes shaping the post-2015 development agenda should look to the New Deal for inspiration and innovation to avoid repeating the same failures of previous frameworks.
We all have the right to live free of violence and conflict; the post-2015 agenda must recognise that conflict is a barrier to development and set explicit peacebuilding targets to tackle this, as detailed by the New Deal. The MDGs will never be achieved without successful transitions to peace. The issues that lead to conflict must be addressed with a long-term outlook. Open political processes that include all actors, belligerents or not, must be promoted to ensure that the underlying problems of inequality, resentment and frustration that lead to conflict in the first place do not re-emerge. Justice and security, economic opportunities and access to basic services must be ensured to all people, with special attention to women and vulnerable groups. Governments must be accountable and ensure they manage the resources of their countries effectively and for the benefit of all. These are the key messages enshrined in the New Deal Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals.
To ensure that there are no double standards, we must assure that all cooperation between governments, civil society, the private sector and development partners is based on transparency and accountability. Under the New Deal these mutually accountable partnerships – called ‘country compacts’- give countries affected by conflict and fragility the power to identify and work toward their own priorities, with effective support from their partners. In the New Deal context, development cooperation must help build the capacity, accountability and legitimacy of institutions in a way that will not undermine the state and can help avoid chronic aid dependency.
It is our hope to see the inclusion of the principles of the New Deal in the post-2015 framework so that development progress is achieved in the world’s most fragile countries. Through this approach, these countries can fulfil their potential to create peaceful, vibrant, just, resilient, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies. We owe it to those one in four living in them to realise their right to peace.
The Third International Dialogue for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding took place on the 19th of April in Washington D.C. with g7+ countries and their partners in development. The outcome and more information on The New Deal for Engagement with Fragile States" can be found here.