2011 Presentation of the WDR report

Dutch presentation of the WDR report 2011: Conflict, security and Development.

I will reflect on four issues related to the report:

*    the changing scope of this report

*    the issue of restoring confidence and institution building referring to our experiences in South Sudan

*    the contribution of delivering basic services to conflict resolution, referring to our work in Burundi

*    the internal and external incentives to prevent and to solve conflict.

1. Changing scope of the report.
The reality of conflicts is changing. To include criminal violence into the discourse as a relevant factor in conflict and in stability is an important step. We should not underestimate the destabilizing influence of criminal violence. Not only in its naked reality as we see it in a country like Mexico and other Central American States, but also and increasingly in the way it is mixing itself with ideological, ethnic and religious conflicts, as we see it in Afghanistan or Colombia. And there are enough countries with lingering low intensity conflict like the Phillipines, parts of India, parts of Indonesia and there is the flaring up of conflicts in countries like Thailand, Peru. They remind us that conflict is not exclusive for the fragile or failed states.

It is a bit like the reality that the majority of the people living below poverty line are living in middle income countries.

The WDR rightly states that the conflicts of the 21 century don’t fit into the 20th century mould of conflict and development. This report is an invitation to be more comprehensive in our analyses of conflict and in our intervention strategies.

2. Restoring confidence and institution building.
The notion of inclusive enough coalitions is an interesting one in addressing the issue of confidence and institution building. Over the last thirty years Cordaid as member of the catholic Caritas network has supported church-institutions in Southern Sudan during the conflict and the civil war. In this period churches were not the only, but of the very few institutions that we are to provide people with basic social needs, with basic health care, with some improvised education, with food. And they were who kept communities together, offering them hope for the future and building trust. Churches and other civil society organizations were key actors in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement as they were again important last year in the preparation of the referendum and in overcoming the internal divide in South Sudan. Their role and position is so important when we are talking about restoring confidence and building institutions. Too often the traditional institution building approach was of the message: ‘Now we are building a state with all its institutions and we don’t need you –civil society, churches, womens organizations- we don’t need you any longer.’

Restoring confidence and building institutions in conflict areas cannot be done as if there was blank sheet. It should be like building on the fundament that was build by these non state actors as stable pillars. Protracted conflicts mark societies and you cannot pretend to turn the page as if it was over. The long lasting effects of conflict are an invitation to include these actors like churches and other civil society actors in building societies.

3. Delivering services and resolving conflicts.
In the notion of peace dividend we have looked at the delivery of basic social services as the fruits of conflict resolution people should benefit from, hand outs to people who for so long have not received them. In Cordaid we increasingly are looking at basic services as a dynamic factor in conflict resolution. I refer to our experiences in Burundi where we during the civil war and after the peace agreement were active in offering basic services. We noticed that basic social services like health are bringing people together. It gives communities something to care for jointly, to overcome their local, ethnic conflicts in order to make sure that there is access to these services. Organizing oversight by local committees, where the different groups are represented, enhances this process of creating joint interests.

In the last couple of year we enhanced this process by the introduction of Performance Based Financing in Health. The key element of this methodology is that the disbursement of payment to institutions or individual health providers is dependent on the verification of their services by local committees. They check whether the services have been delivered, whether the quality was as agreed. It is not after the check and the consent of the community that payments are made. Joint local verification committees are an important step in local conflict. And at the same time this methodology creates very simple governance systems at local and regional level. Instead op being dependent, people become agents of their own local future. Let us develop service delivery in a way that is it empowering people and enhancing community governance.

4. Internal and external incentives to prevent and solve conflicts.
In Chapter nine the WDR sets out four strategies for international support. First, to invest in prevention through citizen security, justice and jobs. Second, internal agency reforms to provide faster assistance for confidence-building and longer term institutional engagement. Third, acting at the regional level on external stresses. Fourth, marshalling the knowledge and resources of low, middle, and high-income countries. It is worth noticing the sequence of this four strategies. I believe that will become increasingly the reality of the coming years in conflict resolution. After Iraq and Afghanistan, we could not expect the same form of massive military interventions to repeat. With the huge economic problems the traditional OECD donors are facing massive aid interventions are becoming less likely. Therefore our investment in support for prevention by local actor and internal agency reforms are key. Then the role of regional actors and after that the international community will .

This World Bank report in Conflict security and development marks a new step in the conflict discourse, moving away from the traditional external driven interventions in fragile state to a much more creative, comprehensive approach. Not easy, with much more complexity to face, but it opens new perspectives for partnership between national and international actors, between governments and civil society actors.