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Reconnecting joined-up approaches: Nation-building through state-building

Working papers

Donors are increasingly tackling the complex task of rebuilding and supporting development in fragile states or states recovering from conflict using ‘joined-up’ approaches. These approaches seek to integrate and bring coherence to all government activity supporting the stabilisation, rehabilitation and long-term development of the country. The activities typically include development work, political and diplomatic efforts and providing security and defence support: the ‘3Ds’. The reasoning behind creating a single coordinated action plan for these different activities is that the overall aim of promoting security, stabilising the country and establishing a sound basis for long-term development will be more efficiently and effectively achieved if the actors work together.

The challenge in fragile states is twofold. First, the basic environment for governance is weak. The government is often under-staffed, under-resourced and the basic systems of governance have either been destroyed or seriously damaged. So the need to build government capacity and achieve development outcomes is particularly acute and presents a major challenge. Second, because the government is weak there is a particular necessity to ensure that donors behave responsibly – because of the high political profile of the work of donor governments in fragile states, there is a strong desire to achieve quick and visible results.

This paper examines the tensions between the long-term goal of building government capacity as the basis for sustainable development and the equally important but shorter-term goal of securing a political settlement and delivering basic security. When these two objectives are pursued separately, they can conflict
with each other. The need for quick results on the political or security front can, if pursued independently of development efforts, undermine those efforts to build a sustainable, stable and inclusive state. The paper suggests an approach that draws
these different objectives together around a single objective or ‘centre of gravity’.

Mary Thida Lun