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Fragile states on the agenda at Monrovia

By Gina Bergh and Claire Leigh at the Overseas Development Institute

Next week the High Level Panel on Post-2015 will hold its third meeting in Monrovia to discuss ‘National Building Blocks for Sustained Prosperity. One of the themes on the table will be governance and institution building, with a focus on fragile and conflict-affected states (this conversation is planned for day two on the 31st of January, according to the draft agenda).

The specific development challenges faced by fragile and conflict-affected states have arguably received too little attention in post-2015 discussions to date. This is of particular concern since these challenges have been such barriers to progress on the MDGs over the past decade: it’s worth restating that not a single fragile state has reached any of the MDGs. And yet as Homi Kharas and Andrew Rogerson point out, by 2025 “the locus of global poverty will overwhelmingly be in fragile, mainly low-income African states“. So there are clear reasons why addressing the needs of fragile and conflict-affected states should be at or very near the top of the post-2015 agenda.

In 2011, in an effort to address the barriers that state fragility poses to development, the g7+ group of fragile and conflict-affected states and partners agreed the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States.  The New Deal sets out five Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs), which are viewed as essential to enabling progress towards the MDGs in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. These are:

  • Legitimate politics – Foster inclusive political settlements and conflict resolution
  • Security – Establish and strengthen people’s security
  • Justice – Address injustices and increase people’s access to justice
  • Economic foundations – Generate employment and improve livelihoods
  • Revenues and services – Manage revenue and build capacity for accountable and fair service delivery

The PSGs were designed to plug a critical gap in the original MDGs, a gap created by goals that presupposed the existence of a peaceful, functional state able to deliver social and economic development. Perhaps even more importantly, lots of diplomatic effort went into establishing the PSGs, so it seems logical that new development goals should take them into account rather than reinventing the wheel.

Instead, post-2015 discussions need to consider exactly how these important considerations can best be incorporated. For instance, Alastair McKechnie thinks that the PSGs could be built into a wider global goal on reducing the threat of violence. The members of the g7+ themselves will be discussing how the needs of fragile states should be addressed in the post-2015 development agenda when they host an international summit entitled ‘Development for All’ at the end of February in Dili, Timor Leste.

So with the post-2015 High Level Panel’s Monrovia meeting just around the corner, and their final Bali meeting to follow soon after in May, it’s time for policymakers and civil society groups engaged in post-2015 debates to get specific about how future goals could be tailored to the needs of fragile and conflict-affected states. Doing so now – whether or not it means bringing in the PSGs – could help to protect valuable and increasingly scarce policy space in the future development agenda.


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January 1st, 2016

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