Minister Pekka Haavisto's lecture on Fragile States at Dar es Salaam University, January 29, 2014

Fragile Countries and the Role of International Community

  • Tanzania is not a fragile state. It is for many years enjoyed peace and tranquility. Tanzania is now on the verge of transition. It is blessed by abundant natural resources. It has huge off-shore reserves of natural gas, gold, copper, gemstones and other minerals. It has abundant wildlife and the vast forests, as well as fertile agricultural land. And let us also not forget, Tanzania has a young population which becomes better educated every day – like you here today.
  • How to use these resources to the benefit of all Tanzanians is one of the most prominent discussions in the country today. If used wisely, particularly extractives wealth can put Tanzania firmly on track to reach its goal of becoming a middle-income country.
  • It is well know that resources can be both a curse and a blessing. There are plenty of examples around the world of how oil and gas resources have become a bane on development rather than its catalyst.
  • You students, as the coming decision makers have a great responsibility to your country to make sure that Tanzania will also in the future choose a democratic and peaceful path. This is indeed a golden opportunity for Tanzania, not only for its own sake, but also to act as a role model to its peers and the whole region.
  • However, many of your neighboring regions are not in the same situation but have suffered from prolonged conflicts and war – they are so called fragile states.

1. Fragile States in the international development agenda

2. Solutions to Fragility – New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States

3. The co-chairmanship in the IDPS

4. Peace in the post-2015 global development agenda

  Fragile States in the international development agenda

  • Over the past years, so-called ‘fragile states’ and how best to engage with them have emerged as one of the priorities among the international development community.
  • Why this has happened? For example, (1) there has been growing concern regarding the continuously poor situation of many fragile countries, (2) poor development results and aid effectiveness has woken up the development community to figure out what it should do better, (3) it has been acknowledged that it will be difficult to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in these countries: according to the recent report so far 20 fragile and conflict affected countries have met one or more MDG targets (4) there has been growing acceptance with the inter-linkage between the development and security.
  • Finland is/I am very pleased with this development since we believe it is time the international community realized it must do things differently to support stability and the people in the most difficult circumstances.
  • It has been estimated that about 1.5 billion people live in the group of between 30-50 fragile states, majority of which are located in Africa. Global poverty is declining sharply, except in fragile states. It has been estimated that by 2015, nearly half of the world’s extreme poor will live in fragile low- and middle income countries. 
  • The concept of fragility is much contested and the fragile states agenda is surrounded by a great deal of critical debate. It is for example argued that discussion contains normative assumptions on how states should perform and a misguided notion that all states will eventually converge around a Western model.
  • Aside the criticism of how fragile states have been conceptualized, there is less dispute on the severe impacts this group of states impose on the security and well-being of their populations.
  • There is also a growing group of fragile countries, who themselves realize that they have different challenges than other developing countries, and want to figure them out with others and don’t mind being called fragile. This has led to the formation of a group g7+ in 2010. Currently it has 18 members, including from the African continent the CAR, the DRC, Somalia, South Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Burundi, Chad, Cote d`Ivore and Togo.
  • The common “symptoms” that describe the group of fragile states can be found (1) Conflict, instability and violence threaten the lives of the country’s citizens and impede the realization of human rights, or decent and tolerable living. (2) Inequality and exclusion is present – majority of the population is poor and can’t enjoy the benefits, for example, of the natural resources. Women, children and marginalized groups are often those excluded and without participation (3) Poor governance and state’s inability to provide basic services, such as schools, hospitals or roads, jobs and economic opportunities as well as justice and security to its citizens. Often impunity and human rights violations prevail as well as lack of social cohesion.
  • Often all of the above mentioned factors are present at the same time and it is very difficult to exit from such situations. Importantly, also the global factors, for example, global terrorism, organized crime, migration, economic interests and climate change increase the fragility of states and regions.   
  • In Africa there has been very positive and welcomed news of “Africa rising”. Nevertheless, the fragility is a huge problem in the continent. It is also a regional problem as fragile states may create fragile areas.   
  • In the recent policy paper the South-African based organization ‘Institution for Security Studies’ classified out of Africa’s 55 countries ten to likely remain in the “fragility trap” beyond 2050 (Comoros, the Central African Republic, The Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Togo).
  • It is clear that conflict zones are particularly fragile and caught in a vicious circle with instability – and simultaneously undermining development and governance. For example South Sudan, CAR and DRC seem to be in a cycle of conflict situations that are very difficult to resolve and push further much needed sustainable development and peace.
  • These situations are not new. The actors, the root causes, the dilemmas are known to the international community. Why do the challenges still persist and worsen? What should we do better? The Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region clearly need a new approach to peacebuilding and development activities.
  • There is a common agreement that “business as usual” is not a solution when delivering aid in fragile states. Burning questions therefore are how to do peacebuilding and statebuilding in fragile contexts and to what things should we concentrate on?

Solutions to Fragility – New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States

  • As mentioned, the discussion on fragile states and fragility among the international development community has concentrated in ways of enhancing the results and effectiveness of aid in fragile states. This OECD led process started in Paris in 2005. In Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness it was already stated that more focus should be on ways how to do development aid in fragile states.
  • In 2008, in the Accra High Level Forum, International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, comprising the donors, international organizations, civil society organizations and fragile states itself, was tasked to prepare the goals for peacebuilding and statebuilding and a plan for more effective aid in fragile states.
  • G7+, as a member of the International Dialogue, was instrumental in putting together the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States agreement, which was endorsed in 2011 in Busan High Level Forum.
  • What is the New Deal? And what difference does it make?
  • The New Deal concentrates in those issues that matter the most to the people who live in fragile and conflict affected countries. Challenges in each context are unique and therefore also require context specific development priorities. Needs are tremendous and it is important in the beginning to focus on the most urgent priorities.

  • To me, what are agreed as priorities is what makes New Deal ‘new’.

The priorities are formed around 5 peacebuilding and statebuilding goals, which are:

  1. Legitimate politics. Foster inclusive political settlements and conflict resolution.
  2. Security. We must establish and strengthen people’s security.
  3. Justice. We must increase people’s access to justice and address injustices
  4. Economic foundations. Employment creation and improved livelihoods for people is key
  5. Revenues and services. Accountable and fair service delivery for people 
  • These goals, once achieved, at its best offer the way out of fragility. PSGs look at peace- and state-building in a very comprehensive way and the goals are all equally important to be achieved.
  • The New Deal also addresses the problem of scattered aid efforts. It emphasizes that there has to be “one vision, one plan” on how to implement the priorities. It guides and ties the partner government, donors and international organizations to work together and coordinate activities towards the common goals. I really hope this can work. We have positive examples from some of the pilot countries already. For example, in Somalia, a Compact, a joint framework, was agreed among all the partners in last September.
  • Rising out of fragility has to be from the beginning country-owned and country-led. This means that the government leads the process. But it also means that the whole society is involved, including those usually excluded groups such as women, youth, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups. New Deal is about building the legitimacy of state, but that can’t happen without involvement of civil society and without enhancing the trust between the state and its people and within the groups. Social cohesion and equality among the people and different groups are key milestones for success.
  • Finally, in the New Deal it is recognized that the process of moving from greater fragility to greater resilience, peacebuilding and state-building, is deeply political. It is essentially about defining and redefining the relationship between the government and its citizens. New Deal calls for the legitimate leadership, commitment, ownership, political dialogue and participation in all its phases. 

The co-chairmanship in the IDPS

  • I was chosen as a co-chair of the International Dialogue in mid- January. I share the chairmanship together with the Finance Minister of Timor Leste, Emilia Pires.
  • My priority as the co-chair is to ensure the principles of the New Deal are really put in practice, that the international community acknowledges the need to pay more attention to the fragile situations and their special needs.
  • The implementation of the New Deal in pilot countries is the main focus of the International Dialogue until 2015. The New Deal pilot countries in the African continent are the CAR, DRC, Somalia, South-Sudan, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
  • The recent developments in CAR and South-Sudan have been a setback for the New Deal process, for example in South Sudan the Compact to guide its peace- and statebuilding was about to be launched before the recent skirmishes started. On the other hand, for example, in Somalia, Liberia and Sierra Leone we have seen encouraging developments despite of the huge challenges still ahead.  
  • We must continue working hard on New Deal implementation and learn our lessons from the setbacks. However, as Emilia Pires has mentioned, successful implementation of the New Deal and the peacebuilding and statebuilding goals can offer the way out of fragility.
  • We in the International Dialogue welcome also new partners, also from civil society. As the examples in African continent show the fragility is not only the concern for the individual fragile countries, but it often has a spill-over effect. African Union, for example, is also a member of the International Dialogue and we are open for an enhanced partnerships and innovative ways to bringing forward the New Deal agenda, tied to sustainable peace and development.
  • As a final point I want to draw your attention to very important agenda that International Dialogue, as well as Finland, also advocates more globally, namely the inclusion of peace, freedom from violence and stable societies to the post-2015 global development agenda. 

Peace in the post-2015 global development agenda

  • As you may know the UN and the vast international development community is busy with thinking what the next set of goals and targets should be after the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015. This so called post-2015 agenda will direct the policies in all UN countries for the next decades.
  • To me, this will be one of the most important development policy decisions we make in years. New set of goals and targets will influence the policies and focus of the international community and the developing countries alike.
  • Peace is a universal goal and matters to all. Every country in the world, including my own country, has faced and faces violence in to a certain extent. We all must work hard to eradicate it.
  • It is time to bring the issues of peace, freedom from violence and stability into the mainstream of development thinking and practice and include them to the post-2015 development agenda. There are justifications for this aim. Since 2000, when the MDGs were set up, we have learned a lot about breaking cycles of conflict, violence and instability.
  • We know, for example, know that the causes of conflict and fragility are multiple and complex, and generally happen in combination, in contexts where institutional alternatives to violence are weak or nonexistent.
  • We also know that causality runs in both directions: conflict and violence undermine development, just as lack of development can help spur violence and conflict.
  • Moreover, we know that violence is preventable and that investing in violence prevention can accelerate overall economic development. In general, a reduction in a country’s incidence of lethal violence corresponds with improved MDG performance across most indicators 

(Here are some examples how violence negatively affects development:

In the World Development Report (2011) it is stated that “a country making development advances, such as Tanzania, loses an estimated 0,7 percent of GDP every year for each neighbor in conflict” or “on average, a country that experienced major violence over the period from 1981 to 2005 has a poverty rate higher than a country that saw no violence”.  

Worldwide, armed violence is the fourth leading cause of death for people aged between 15 and 44. In many urban environments in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa gun-related violence is the single largest cause of death among young men between 14-25 years.)  

  • Finally, we know that conflict, violence, and fragility do not occur in a vacuum. There are important external stressors that can help drive conflict at the national level. No single country can take effective action by itself against, for example, the illicit arms trade, transnational organized crime or money laundering, let alone the impact of global financial shocks or climate change. Collective action is needed at the global level to address these dynamics and to help countries overcome their negative impact. 
  • To conclude, for example the report of the High Level Panel on the post-2015 agenda has given a lot of hope for those who advocate the inclusion of peace in the post-2015 agenda. The High Level Panel, has recommended own goals both for the good governance and effective institutions and stable and peaceful societies. 
  • However, the negotiations among the UN member states are still about to commence.  The discussions are not expected to be easy. The group of fragile states themselves, the g7+, are the best to make their case. In addition, new champions are needed to bringing forward the idea of including peace, freedom from violence and stability to the post-2015 agenda. It is good to think bold and reach far. With the tools and instruments of development policy and with the devotedness of people we can do a lot.

Presentation: Fragile States and the Role of the International Community (avautuu uuteen ikkunaan)