This paper outlines a new, integrated approach, which puts state-building and peace-building at the centre of DFID’s work in fragile and conflict-affected countries. It outlines how DFID can: i) address the causes and effects of conflict and fragility, and build conflict resolution mechanisms; ii) support inclusive political settlements and processes; iii) develop core state functions; and iv) respond to public expectations; to work towards strong state-society relations and peaceful states and societies. The four objectives are not sequential – they form a ‘virtuous circle’, creating a positive dynamic and strengthening state–society relations.
- Recognise that politics are central to DFID’s work in conflict-affected and fragile countries. State-building and peace-building are internal, political processes. Effective support requires a high level of political awareness, identification of opportunities to support social and political change and a good understanding of elite politics and the nature of the political settlement.
- Build consensus with external partners. It is essential to ensure that development, political and security approaches to state-building and peace-building are coherent. This includes building close links with humanitarian and stabilisation approaches where relevant (e.g. in highly insecure contexts). Joint assessments and joint strategies are an important step forward.
- Analyse the context using the integrated framework, which should lead to different priorities and choices. Where international actors fail to invest in good political and conflict analysis, actions can result in more harm than good. However, translating analysis into practical decisions and programmes can be challenging. It requires working through the implications for international engagement and making hard choices. The key is to use the approach to prioritise rigorously. Consideration of issues of gender, human rights and inclusion is crucial. Peace-building and state-building can offer unique opportunities to address the injustices and inequalities of the past, and set new precedents for the future. Sequencing interventions and clarifying division of labour between donors can help resolve dilemmas between short-term and long-term objectives.
- Engage at the interface between state and society. A ‘bottom-up’ approach that engages with non-state and community-level institutions is central to building peaceful states and societies. These institutions may compete with the state in negative ways, but they can also provide a bridge between state and society. Practical ways of engaging at the interface include: i) supporting links between traditional authorities and local governance structures; ii) strengthening civil society to engage with the state and hold it accountable (particularly as a complement to budget support); and iii) community-driven development programmes that channel funds to local communities while building local governance capacity.
- Adapt delivery mechanisms. The transaction costs of working in situations of conflict and fragility are higher, including programme design, coordination, influencing and monitoring and evaluation. This needs to be reflected in staff planning in fragile countries. Choices about aid instruments must be politically informed. Donors need to clarify the form of alignment with the state that is appropriate in each context: whether through the state, with the state or outside the state. A rigorous approach to risk management is important. Risks are higher in fragile contexts, particularly given the nature of state-building and peace-building interventions – for example, decisions to align with particular elites (political or reputational risks), or support for measures to counter violent extremism (programme or staff security risks). When considering specific options for intervention, three factors – transaction costs, risk and expected return – can help DFID to compare their relative value for money. DFID’s results framework needs to be adjusted to include indicators and targets that focus explicitly on state-building and peace-building objectives.