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A new aid deal for fragile states?

Time (GMT +01) 12:30 14:00

Senior Adviser in the National Directorate of Aid Effectiveness, Timor-Leste Ministry of Finance; and head of

Dr Helder Da Costa -Senior Adviser in the National Directorate of Aid Effectiveness, Timor-Leste Ministry of Finance; and head of the g7+ secretariat
Koen Davidse - Director, Peace Building and Stabilisation Unit, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Henry Smith-Director, Saferworld
Marcus Manuel - Director,  ODI's Budget Strengthening Initiative (BSI)

Andrew Norton -  
Director of Research, ODI



Dr Helder da Costa – Senior Adviser in the National Directorate of Aid Effectiveness, Timor-Leste Ministry of Finance / g7+ secretariat

In his role at g7+ secretariat Mr Da Costa has been investigating a new deal for international engagement in fragile states. He has just returned from a working party meeting on Aid Effectiveness in Paris to represent Fragile States and their strategy on their way to Busan.

The outcome of the meeting shows that:

  • There is a context specific to Fragile States: it is a group of countries lagging behind in the achievement of the MGDs
  • No Fragile State will be able to achieve any MGD by 2015
  • UK is a big donor in Fragile States, 30% of ODA is spent in fragile contexts – however the results are hard to show
  • Business as usual in fragile states however is no longer an option

For the first time a monologue becomes a dialogue: The issue with fragile states that support without political will does not bring to a change in behaviour. There is the need for ownership by recipient countries and we believe the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding offers an excellent forum for Fragile States to gain ownership and leadership.

The g7+ and INCAF have therefore prepared: A New Deal for International Engagement in Fragile States. This deal is based on what we called the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding goals (PSGs) which were agreed in Monrovia in June 2011 – these goals are complimentary for meeting the MDGs but also better reflect the realities and the requirements of Fragile States.

These are:

  • A State for all (Inclusive Politics)
  • Services for all (Resources and Revenues
  • Safety for All (Security)
  • Jobs for All (Economic Foundations)
  • Equity for All (Justice)

These goals were presented in Monrovia in the presence of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on 15-16 June 2011.

Importantly, the MDGs do not include conflict and fragility issues. The g7+ group sees the PSGs as pre-condition for achieving the MDGs that establish interim goals relating to the state, security, justice, jobs and resources. The PSGs are a product of the leadership of fragile states, that have come together and agreed to define the major (and often shared) challenges for them and a strategy on how to tackle them that also takes into account the specific needs of each context.

The new deal is based on FOCUS:

F for fragility spectrum: this is a way for Fragile States to develop their own fragility assessment, external indicators like CPIA are not appropriate to assess progress in context of fragility, with the new spectrum fragile states have designed their own indicators.O for one plan, country owned and ledC for country compacts – agreements between governments and development partners on priorities and terms of engagement.U for use PSGsS for Support inclusive political dialogue

To FOCUS on a new deal we need TRUST: which stands for:

T for TransparencyR for Risk SharingU use country systems (important to use systems already in place and country owned rather than creating new systems imposed from the outside)S for Strengthen CapacityT for Time: fast and predictable aid (despite pledge to honor Accra Agenda for Action some donor countries have not fully respected their promises – aid has not flowed in a predictable way)

Looking at the road to Busan we had the Monterrey Consensus (2002), Rome High Level Forum on Harmonisation (2003), Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005), Accra Agenda for Action (2008), Dili Declaration on Fragile States (2010), Bogota Statement on SSC (2010) and finally the Busan HLF-4 (29 Nov- 1 Dec 2011)

The next event will be a g7+ Ministerial retreat in Juba to finalise details on New Aid Deal on 18-19 October 2011 and then, after Busan, a trialling period (2012-2015) to follow up on Aid Deal.

In terms of agenda and format for Busan the g7+ group have been asked to prepare a building block and will discuss the New Aid Deal in Plenary as well as in an ad hoc session in Busan. The two co-chairing countries, Timor Leste and the Netherlands will announce the New Aid Deal to the world with the support of US, UK, Australia.

Dr Da Costa stated that the g7+ group will start implementing the New Deal in each country and organisation and contributing to shape the post MDGs agenda and its relevance to fragile states. The work will be done at country level through a South-South support network and country aid policy but also at the level of global partnership for development effectiveness: this will be inclusive with a multi-track approach and partnership and knowledge sharing.

The way forward: of course there are some fragile states which are more difficult such as Somalia or Haiti and even Timor is expecting elections next year so need to wait and hope that stability will continue. If after 10 years Timor will still be stable we can say that it can now join the club of more stable countries and constitute a success story.

Koen Davidse – Director of Fragile States and Peace Building Unit and Co Chair of the IDPS

Mr Davidse highlighted the importance that the Nobel Peace Price has been given to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who has participated in the Monrovia process and how this is relevant for Fragile States and highlight her work for women and peacebuilding.

The main points that Mr Davidse highlighted were:

  • The monologue has become a dialogue – all countries have agreed to the content of the process
  • MDGs – consensus reached is important – no one is diminishing the importance of MDGs but need for specific goals for Fragile States and also monitoring of implementation of Fragile States principles
  • Importance of process Monrovia to Busan: it makes things easier to have a concerted effort = the Monrovia goals will influence the final outcome of Busan with a New Deal.

Also highlighted:

  • Concept of inclusion
  • Concept of specificity – lessons from each other but in context
  • A steering group of the Dialogue will meet in Nov 2011
  • Discussion in Busan in plenary and focus on fragile states issues

Mr Davidse also described  the process of monitoring both as:

  • Successful: achievement of Fragile States principle, and
  • Painful: it has shown we have not made as much progress as we wanted to.

But the result is increased awareness of context. Moreover focusing some efforts on peace and State building objectives will help achieve the MDGs.

Henry Smith – Managing Director of Safer World

Mr Smith has emphasised how Safer World follows with great interest the work of the International Dialogue on Peace Building and State Building and has been monitoring its work very closely – highlight positive role of IDPS to get to grips with issues of Fragile States.

  1. International Dialogue: produces tangible outcomes and offers significant opportunity for action on the ground
  2. Safer World supports Peace building and State Building objectives in Monrovia Road Map
  3. Safer World welcomes efforts of governments of Fragile States and Donors and the existence of a process is a positive step forward
  4. The role of Timor Leste is welcomed and supported

The new Deal document suggests two contributions:

  • Request  g7+ States to control corruption: importance of role of participation and accountability. This calls for an assessment to understand the nature of the challenge in the country and to make a transition to lasting peace.
  • Compacts: accountability of donors and States – why not having a triple compact which also includes the civil society and the communities?
  • Indicators: develop indicators for Fragile States: develop indicators for Fragile States in addition to indicators for internal mechanisms on aid work it’s important to add participatory mechanisms, for example, does the community have access to justice/ services? What do poor people want and what are their perceptions?
  • Highlight importance of context specificity: trying to make development work in different places. The context in Afghanistan is different from the one in Timor Leste which is different from the one in South Sudan. This brings back to the nature of conflict:
    • It would be useful to address in New Deal: look at Peace building and State building goals combined in different ways in different contexts – not a cookie cutter approach
    • Ensuring primacy of people in decision making but also flexible enough

Marcus Manuel – Director of Budget Strengthening Initiative – ODI

Mr Manuel strengthened the importance to hear the voice of Fragile States through the g7+. Both g7+ and International Dialogue are very important institutions. The situation has changed from early 90s when aid policies were done very simply through Washington consensus. There has been a major shift about process, the g7+ is giving voice and ownership on process. Mr Manuel highlighted two main factors:

  • Risk:
    • it’s important how we manage risk. The risk approach: as long as we account for all the material to build a school it doesn’t seem to matter how many children do actually go to school. We need to go beyond this narrow approach as there is a bigger set of risks in the longer term. In Fragile States it is difficult for donors to see the results.
    • In the context of South - South Learning: if it happened in that country why can it not happen in my country too?
  • New Deal - There are areas to improve:
    • Trust: transparency, what to do about budget transparency? Timor Leste for example publish all data for the last 5 years (it has been underlined how much emphasis Minister of Finance Emilia Pires has put on the importance of Transparency as a way to combat fragility – if a government is accountable there is much less to say from government opposition/non state actors against the government hence peace and democratic change is preserved)
    • Donors:
      • Do no harm principles – issue of Technical Assistance to Fragile States, reduce the poor practices – need to change
      • Donors too slow to deliver (image of the tortoise) – need to build infrastructure quickly – some countries use emergency humanitarian procedures for 5 years or more
      • Donors need to have different views on delivering of statebuilding – systems have to be built together with the states, the systems should not be run by donors. Although they are easier to manage at the beginning they do not work in the longer term so it’s important that Systems are State owned.

I wish the best to g7+ and International Dialogue to tackle challenges ahead.

Dr Helder Da Costa:

Dr Da Costa concluded by commenting on some remarks made by other speakers. He In terms of indicators it’s hard as there are many different types of indicators so we are in the process of defining the best ones. There are 5 objectives for state and peace building. We also want to assess how fragile we are on a 1-10 scale. At Busan we will have the highest political level to get the highest political endorsement – we could convince the world of the need for using PSG instead of MDGs for fragile states.

In terms of Transparency: yes important but also (according to Minister Pires) it takes two to tango, if donors are not transparent then it cannot work.


How aid should be delivered to fragile states is set to be high on the agenda at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan this November. Home to a growing share of the world’s poor and facing some of the most urgent development needs, fragile states pose a unique set of challenges to delivering aid effectively. And while there is broad consensus surrounding the Paris principles – including the importance of country ownership of development policy – questions remain as how these principles should be understood and measured in fragile states.

This event brings together views from fragile states themselves, civil society and the research community to discuss whether a new aid deal is needed for fragile states and what such a new aid deal might look like.

Speakers include:
Dr Helder Da Costa – Senior Adviser in the National Directorate of Aid Effectiveness, Timor-Leste Ministry of Finance; and head of the g7+ secretariat, a global forum composed of 17 of the world's most fragile and conflict-affected states. Fresh from representing the g7+ at high level discussions on Busan being held in Paris, Dr Da Costa will give his perspective on the role aid can play in peacebuilding and statebuilding.

Koen Davidse - Director of the Fragile States and Peacebuilding Unit
Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and co-chair of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding. Koen will also have attended the same discussions on Busan in Paris, and will talk on support for fragile states from the perspective of donors.

Henry Smith – Executive Director of Saferworld, an international NGO working to prevent violent conflict and promote cooperative approaches to security. Henry will talk about the challenges of delivering effective aid in contexts of conflict, fragility and poor governance as well as what these challenges mean for what is agreed at Busan.

Marcus Manuel – Director of ODI’s Budget Budget Strengthening Initiative (BSI). BSI supports the world’s poorest, most fragile and most conflict-affected states to develop more effective, transparent and accountable systems for managing public finances. Marcus will present results of ODI research that was prepared for the the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding which identified good examples of innovative practice for delivering aid in fragile states. 

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