International Support to Post-Conflict Transition: Rethinking Policy, Changing Practice
Access full text: available online
This guidance suggests ways of improving the speed, flexibility, predictability and risk management of international support during post-conflict transition. It recommends: 1) assessing contextual risks jointly and managing specific risks collectively; 2) helping governments to prioritise their development plans; 3) using a mix of aid instruments; and 4) using flexible agreements between national and international partners. At the core of an amended approach is the need for more serious collaboration, joint analysis and willingness to be held collectively accountable to agreed objectives.
Official development assistance (ODA) to fragile states has doubled over the past decade, reaching USD 46 billion in 2009, or about 40 percent of total ODA. Despite this, however, no low-income fragile or conflict-affected country has yet achieved a single Millennium Development Goal. Four critical obstacles block more effective use of aid in transition contexts:
- Fragmented aid architecture and overlapping guiding principles. The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness assumes a level of capacity and institutional complexity that may simply be unrealistic in most transition contexts. As a result, development funding is slow to materialise before national capacities and plans have been developed. Responsibilities are also spread across multiple institutional mandates and budget lines.
- Risk-averse behaviour on the part of donors and implementing partners. Donor approaches focus on risk avoidance rather than context-specific risk management.
- Lack of prioritisation in plans and strategies. This has resulted in overambitious plans that make unrealistic assumptions about absorptive capacities and what can be delivered within short timeframes.
- Incoherence across instruments. Donors struggle to understand how different aid instruments can be used in parallel to support rapid and sustainable delivery. Their aid instrument designs are often based on specific institutional mandates and operating procedures rather than on effective delivery approaches. This has prevented the strategic linking of different instruments to a coherent delivery strategy.
Transition support needs to focus on i) the need to support statebuilding by strengthening the political settlement, core state capacities and legitimacy; ii) strengthening civil society and state-society relations; whilst iii) continuing to guarantee people's access to basic services. In addition, a gradual application of the Paris Declaration principles and more realistic assumptions about what can be achieved by different actors within different timeframes are needed. Recommendations cover four key areas:
- Improve approaches to risk taking and risk management. A joint assessment of contextual risks should be the basis for engagement, and development partners should consider collective management of specific risks.
- Help governments in transition to prioritise their development plans. Government leadership should be supported at the strategic level, but shorter planning cycles should also be used to allow for a frequent reassessment of priorities to ensure continued relevance. Various sector plans should be integrated into a single planning framework, with clear links to how different institutions can support the delivery of collectively agreed priorities.
- Use a mix of aid instruments according to the national context and priorities. No single aid instrument can cover all the priorities of transition. A mix of different instruments can allow coherent and effective aid to support shared priorities, plus rapid and flexible delivery. It should focus on country-specific instruments and pooled funds that allow for a gradual increase in the use of country systems.
- Improve collective engagement through the use of transition compacts. A 'compact' is a flexible agreement between national and international partners. Compacts link agreement on priorities with a strategy for how these priorities should be funded. They facilitate joint prioritisation between national and international actors and frequent reviews of progress, addressing donor concerns about capacity, legitimacy and risks of engagement, and ensuring mutual accountability.
Access full text: available online
OECD-DAC, 2012, 'International Support to Post-Conflict Transition: Rethinking Policy, Changing Practice', DAC Guidelines and Reference Series, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris
Organisation: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), http://www.oecd.org