Making peace last

The road from conflict to peace and from destruction to development is far from smooth. In fact, research shows that half of all countries that have been ravaged by conflict are at war again within a decade. Transition Financing: Building a Better Response, part of the OECD’s Conflict and Fragility series of books, examines how the international community can help countries move from resolving conflicts to a lasting peace, grounded in what the authors describe as “sustainable development”. It involves a transition to greater national ownership and a greater capacity to ensure public safety and welfare.

Over one third of official development assistance is targeted at fragile and conflict-affected countries every year. But this aid is not always effective in reaching the areas where it is most needed. Though many determining forces are outside donor control, donors do have influence, most importantly through decisions about which activities to finance and how. Indeed, financing is not just about resources, but behaviour, aid architecture, power, priorities and institutions. A financing decision has consequences that go far beyond the timescale and scope of the funded activity.

While the challenges are daunting, Transition Financing argues that a more holistic approach to foreign aid could produce better outcomes. For example, the institutional division between short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term development programmes, common to many donor countries, leaves little room for transition activities. Once peace has been established in a conflict-affected country, the international community has a tendency to abruptly switch the emphasis from peacekeeping efforts to rather centralised state-building. New sets of actors enter the fray, distorting the recovery process. A lack of co-ordination results in inefficiencies, duplication of effort and a dilution of responsibility that weakens peacekeeping and leads to factions.

Transition Financing calls for improved co-ordination within governments and among donors, and offers advice on how to take better account of domestic resource mobilisation and debt relief, which are too often overlooked in postconflict periods By drawing on case studies of Afghanistan and Sudan, and highlighting examples such as the “largely successful” Dutch Stability Fund and the reasons behind the rather less satisfactory financing in Timor-Leste, Transition Financing identifies a set of best practices to help transition work more smoothly. It will be of interest to anyone involved in conflict resolution, humanitarian assistance or development work.

ISBN 978-92-64-08397-4

©OECD Observer N° 280 July 2010

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