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Ensuring aid supports peace in conflict-affected states

International aid should help build sustainable peace – but too often it does not. Decision-makers and practitioners need to embrace innovative policies, institutional reforms and working practices – based on reliable evidence and analysis – if they are to strengthen their impact on peace.

Since 1990, fragile and conflict-affected states have not enjoyed the development progress that most of the rest of the world has. Few are on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

At the global level there needs to be a stronger policy focus on peacebuilding. For example, the principles underpinning effective aid need to include a stronger focus on conflict-sensitive approaches if we are to achieve real progress in challenging contexts.

Mainstream development policy - like the Post-2015 global development framework the will succeed the MDGs - also needs to be updated to focus on the factors that are hindering progress in fragile states. This means ensuring people’s security, improving access to justice, and increasing participation in decision-making – and putting in place fairer, more responsive and accountable governance. 2012 was a year of policy progress on these issues, with a growing consensus on the approach needed.

At the same time, governments and aid agencies need to adapt themselves to take forward their new policy commitments. For example, many agencies approach development as a technical process – focusing on delivering tangible benefits (such as clean water) or building up formal structures (such as well-equipped police stations). However, to achieve lasting change there needs to be more work to build better state-society relations from the bottom up.

This could involve empowering people to participate in decision-making (so that the state supplies water fairly and accountably to all social groups, for example) and in identifying and resolving security problems (so that police become more responsive and accountable).

If aid institutions are to support more inclusive politics in conflict-affected states, they will need to learn and adapt.

Saferworld’s work in this issue area focuses on three priorities. Firstly, we are working to promote a global vision of human development that can address the challenges of conflict-affected countries. In 2012 the UN Task Team has recognised that the new global development framework must cover peace and security. Working with other civil society groups, we are encouraging governments and the UN to include key peacebuilding priorities in the development framework that will replace the Millennium Development Goals from 2015 onwards.

Post-2015 debate

Our second priority is to continue to engage with the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding. Saferworld and civil society partners were closely involved in negotiating the ‘New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States’, endorsed in Busan in 2011, which flowed out of this international dialogue.

With other CSOs we are now pushing for an effective indicator framework to hold states to account and track progress towards the ambitious peacebuilding and statebuilding goals set out in the New Deal. In particular, we want to make sure tracking indicators include the views of local people on how much progress has been achieved. We are also promoting inclusive, accountable and conflict-sensitive assessment, planning, implementation and monitoring processes to implement the new approach to peacebuilding and statebuilding in g7+ member countries (a group of fragile states).

Saferworld is also taking advantage of opportunities to influence the approach of governments and international organisations including the UK, Sweden and the European Union. We do this through policy submissions, articles, contributions to seminars, conferences and roundtables, providing expert advice, and conducting evaluations. We are also applying this approach to specific contexts – for example in our engagement to improve and conflict-sensitise international responses in Georgia, South Sudan, Somalia and Uganda.

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Peace and the 2030 Agenda

With agreement on the 2030 Agenda in place, our work is currently focused on ensuring that the inclusion of peaceful and inclusive societies in the 2030 Agenda can be translated into action.