‘Too often, the development community has treated states affected by fragility and conflict simply as harder cases of development…Yet these situations require looking beyond the analytics of development – to a different framework of building security, legitimacy, governance and economy’ World Bank, President Bob Zoellick.
Of the estimated 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty, around one quarter are thought to live in ‘so called’ fragile states. These are countries characterised by protracted insecurity, political instability, weak governance and poor economic management. Lacking the state capacity to deliver basic services and meet people’s aspirations, they are often affected by violent conflict. Fragile states have now become a prominent feature of international development, security and diplomacy landscapes. This concentration of the world’s poorest in fragile states brings with it major challenges of governance, economy and security.
The drivers of fragility are complex, linked to both international and local factors including economic and social inequalities and exclusion, lack of effective channels for the peaceful expression of people’s demands and expectations, severe economic decline, and competition over natural resources. At root, conflict and fragility often stem from failures of governance, increasing the risk of violent modes of dispute resolution. But what does this mean in practical terms and what challenges and risks does it present?
ODI hosted a meeting series to explore the causes of fragility and the key challenges to peace building and state building processes. The series brought together a mix of senior researchers, practitioners and policy makers to discuss the opportunities and challenges for engaging in fragile situations in terms of approaches, tools and instruments.