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CGD research on fragile states examines how rich countries and other development actors can best assist fragile states and their citizens; related work focuses on understanding the transition from immediate post-conflict assistance to longer-term development assistance.
Program goals include
understanding the causes and consequences of state fragility;
determining opportunities for policy intervention and the sequencing of such interventions;
finding ways to improve the effectiveness of aid to fragile states; and,
identifying turning points that signal when donors should shift from post-conflict to longer-term development assistance.
CGD senior fellow Vijaya Ramachandran leads this research to help inform and influence policymakers and practitioners working on post-conflict reconstruction and development in difficult environments.
Together with CGD visiting fellow Satish Chand, professor of economics at the University of New South Wales, Ramachandran has commissioned a series of papers by currently or recently active aid practitioners in post-conflict assistance programs. Drawing upon these papers, Ramachandran and Chand plan to develop practical guidelines to help policymakers and practitioners examine and respond to on-the-ground challenges. Areas of interest include an analysis of donor relationships with the military, the sequencing and coordination of donor activity in post-conflict settings, the value of the European Union’s Stability Instrument, the revival of basic public services in post-conflict countries, and the incentives of government actors in various post-conflict settings.
Previous CGD work on weak and fragile states includes the following working papers, books and reports:
Civil War: A Review of Fifty Years of Research, a working paper by Christopher Blattman, a non-resident fellow and former CGD post-doctoral fellow currently at Yale University, and Edward Miguel of the University of California at Berkeley. The paper investigates how civil wars begin, how the actors are organized, and what economic effects civil wars have on their societies.
The Center for Global Development and the LSE-Oxford Commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development will co-host a conversation with David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Donald Kaberuka, High Representative on the African Union Peace Fund, distinguished visiting fellow at CGD, and former President of the African Development Bank, and Jennifer Widner, professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and a member of the Commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development, to discuss the need for a new global approach to state fragility. The Fragility Commission, which Cameron and Kaberuka chair, will be launching its report, Escaping the Fragility Trap, which makes the case for urgent action and outlines recommendations for how domestic and international actors can do things differently.
The world is grappling with some of the highest levels of displacement on record, and with that new complex and wide-reaching economic, social, and political effects. Left unaddressed or poorly managed, displacement can be a cause and consequence of fragility, conflict, and crisis. These realities can—and have—become some of the most significant challenges facing the 21st century. This event will explore the next frontiers in responding to forced displacement and fragility: emerging challenges, priorities, and solutions.
What will you remember about 2017? The growing crisis of displacement? The US pulling out of the Paris agreement and reinstating the global gag rule on family planning? Or that other countries reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris agreement, that Canada launched a feminist international assistance policy, that Saudi Arabia finally let women drive?
CGD experts have offered analysis and ideas all year, but now it's time to look forward.
What's going to happen in the world of development in 2018? Will we finally understand how to deal equitably with refugees and migrants? Or how technological progress can work for developing countries? Or what the impact of year two of the Trump Administration will be?
Today’s podcast, our final episode of 2017, raises these questions and many more as a multitude of CGD scholars share their insights and hopes for the year ahead. You can preview their responses in the video below.
Thanks for listening. Join us again next year for more episodes of the CGD Podcast.
More than 65 million people are forcibly displaced, for on average about ten years. That's the scale of the problem facing Mark Lowcock, the new UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs.
This is not only a short-term humanitarian problem but a development issue as well. How well equipped is the system to respond? What types of reform are needed to make it more fit for purpose?
That was the topic of conversation when Mark Lowcock joined CGD's president Masood Ahmed in Washington recently for his first public event since taking up his new role.
“I am particularly enthused by the work that’s going on to join the development and humanitarian systems up better, which is absolutely at the heart of the UN reform agenda,” Lowcock said. “The truth is there are very few humanitarian crises which are solved on their own by humanitarian interventions.”
The following blog post is excerpted from an op-ed by Cindy Huang originally published in Devex.
This week, at the World Bank Annual Meetings and G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors, global leaders must address the Rohingya refugee crisis head on by condemning Myanmar—whose regime has burned villages to the ground and brutally murdered children in what a UN official called a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing”—and by committing substantial aid to Bangladesh, one of the poorest 50 countries in the world that now hosts more than 819,000 Rohingya refugees.
On September 28, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that this horrific campaign of violence has "spiraled into the world's fastest-developing refugee emergency, a humanitarian and human rights nightmare." Two weeks later, the nightmare continues. The international community must put intensified pressure on Myanmar to halt these atrocities, which should include a sobering reevaluation of lending by the World Bank to Myanmar’s government.
Given the rate and scale of the unfolding crisis, which is the swiftest outflow of refugees since the Rwandan genocide, the international community is rightly focused on emergency humanitarian measures. But it is also imperative for international actors to move quickly to develop complementary solutions that can improve the situation both now and in the longer-term. Here are three key elements of such a package for Bangladesh:
1. We need to offer immediate aid and assistance.
The international community should immediately offer a bold package of assistance to meet the needs of both refugees and host communities in Bangladesh. The UN estimates that the crisis requires $434 million over the next six months. Even if the international community commits this amount, it still won’t be enough to fully meet the challenge. The government of Bangladesh is already struggling to provide basic necessities such as food and clean water to communities where refugees are now settling. Even before the recent influx, tensions were rising between locals and Rohingya refugees over scarce resources and job opportunities. International support can’t just focus on refugees, it must also help materially improve the standard of living for host communities.
In response to the Syrian refugee crisis, donors including the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development offered Jordan and Lebanon, which host more than 1.6 million registered refugees, significant resources to meet the needs of both refugees and citizens. This has created the possibility of a win-win solution for both groups and has been good politics for the host countries’ governments. This type of compact—an agreement that includes policy changes to expand refugee rights and programs to improve the well-being of refugees and hosts—offers benefits for everyone. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina must respond to demands to deliver for her constituents first and foremost, and a compact of this kind can generate domestic support for recognizing, hosting, and supporting refugees now and in the longer term.
2. We need to offer more than aid as part of refugee compacts.
The international community should consider new policies and programs that will help the people of Bangladesh and Rohingya succeed, including reducing trade barriers and opening new markets for Bangladeshi companies, providing technical assistance to help the government tackle difficult economic issues, and facilitating private sector investment that will help Bangladesh make critical economic reforms that pay dividends in the long term. One of the breakthrough elements of the Jordan compact was the offer of European Union trade concessions for companies employing Syrian refugees. The details aren’t easy to get right, but if the international community wants to make a real difference in the future of Bangladesh, it needs to look at policies that enable sustainable gains.
3. We need to plan for this crisis to endure.
The reality is that there is little prospect that the Rohingya refugees will be able to return home any time soon. The world’s refugees have been displaced for an average of 10 years, and for those displaced more than five years, that average climbs to over 21 years. While the international community presses for an end to the terrible violence in Myanmar, they must also work with the government of Bangladesh on solutions that will address needs now and in the long haul. The international community has an opportunity to improve the situation in Bangladesh—not just for the Rohingya refugees, but for Bangladeshis as well.
And even though this crisis may seem like it’s thousands of miles away from capitals in Europe and North America, the situation hits close to home for leaders who are facing pressure to reduce refugee resettlement in their own countries. They can relate to the political challenges that Prime Minister Hasina is facing, and should appreciate that they don’t face the other economic and development challenges she is tackling at the same time.
At a recent CGD event, Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, recounted a question he posed to senior State Department officials:
Ten years from now, if your kids are studying about the elimination of a people from Western Burma and they ask what you did when you were in the government to prevent that disaster, what will you be prepared to say to them?
As the disaster unfolds, we must continue to ask: what will the international community do to respond to one of the great tragedies of our time? One critical component should be a bold package of support that meets the needs of Rohingya refugees and their Bangladeshi hosts.
CGD's experts across a range of issues will also be paying close attention the Annual Meetings.
Here's what they'll be watching:
Will the World Bank’s capital increase campaign be a success? Scott Morris has been keeping an eye on the World Bank’s campaign for a capital increase, but the United States has policy concerns about increased lending at the Bank, with specific skepticism about the Bank’s continued lending to large emerging market countries, like China.
Will the world take action on Myanmar and the Rohingya refugee crisis? Cindy Huang is calling for an international package for Bangladesh – similar to the Jordan Compact that is helping to address the Syrian refugee crisis. She says that for this package to succeed it must include assistance for the 800,000-plus Rohingya refugees now in Bangladesh, as well as provide robust support to the communities hosting refugees. It also must go beyond aid, including components like reducing trade barriers and facilitating private investment in Bangladesh.
Scott Morris is also watching this issue closely. The Bank has provided $2 billion in assistance to the government of Myanmar since 2010, and now a top United Nations official has said the Myanmar regime is perpetrating a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing.” Morris is raising important questions, including “how much certainty does the bank have that its projects are safeguarded against abuses in Myanmar today, that no projects are enabling discriminatory treatment toward the Rohingya population?” and "is the World Bank and major donors willing to use all the tools in their toolset to address the crisis, including sanctions?"
What will the World Bank’s new strong stance on the tobacco tax mean for developing nations? There are about 6 million premature deaths each year from the tobacco epidemic, and that number continues to rise. Two-thirds of those deaths are in developing countries. That's why Bill Savedoff has been working for many years to get the World Bank and the international community to support a tobacco tax. The World Bank is the only international organization of its scale that regularly works with Finance Ministries and has a mandate to improve health worldwide.
This week, the Bank published a new report that shows how tobacco taxes could have a major impact on global health (summary here). It states strongly: “There is a policy measure that can simultaneously save millions of lives, reduce poverty, and increase countries’ domestic resources for financing development. The policy measure consists of increasing excise tax rates on tobacco in order to reduce its affordability and, as evidence shows, lower its consumption... The report sets forth the public health, economic, and anti-poverty case for higher tobacco taxes; shows how some countries have already delivered ambitious reforms; and documents measurable results. It shows that, by implementing tobacco tax reforms now, policy makers can choose a fast road to healthier, more prosperous societies.”
At the Annual Meetings, Bill and I will be participating in discussions of this strategy to combat the tobacco epidemic and save lives with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and other high-level officials from across the globe.
Stay tuned to @CGDev on Twitter and sign up for our email updates to stay informed about what happens at the Annual Meetings.
As half a million Rohingya refugees have been violently forced out of Myanmar and into Bangladesh in the past month, the top United Nations human rights official has called what’s happening “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
The tactics of the Burmese Army, tacitly defended by Burma’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, mirror crimes against humanity committed elsewhere. Like the Sudanese did in Darfur, the Burmese authorities are using concerted violence to clear territory of an undesired ethnic group. Like Slobodan Milosevic did in Kosovo, Burma is depriving its citizens of their national identity as it violently pushes them out of the country. But what makes the situation in Myanmar unique is the speed at which this refugee crisis has exploded. In Kosovo it took three months for 800,000 people to flee, while half a million Rohingya have fled in a matter of weeks—and it’s not over yet.
The immediate on-the-ground needs are clear: preventing disease, ensuring adequate food and clean water, setting up emergency shelter, and providing protection and psycho-social support to the most vulnerable. But these necessary elements are only a band-aid on a growing crisis.
When a new refugee flow emerges, there is a short window of a few months for stopping the violence and enabling people to return home. It that window is missed, a new refugee population will likely remain displaced for decades. My gut tells me that this is the second category—that Rohingya Muslims will be in exile for a long time, absent a large and coordinated push on the Burmese government to cease the violence, allow them back, and to recognize their rights.
That’s where the United States comes in.
This moment could define the Trump presidency’s foreign policy and change the course of history—but only if he speaks out. Early on in the George W. Bush administration, he was briefed on President Clinton’s handling of Rwanda in 1994 and said “not on my watch.” This is that same “not on my watch” moment for the Trump administration and everyone who works in it, and they should treat it accordingly.
It goes without saying that the United States must sustain robust and sufficient aid to stabilize the refugee population. But that needs to be paired with a strong diplomatic push, engaging China and other regional powers to pressure the Burmese regime to stop this concerted mass violence. It’s good to see that the United States is speaking up at the United Nations Security Council, but the question is if that will translate to diplomatic action. Unfortunately, with most senior positions at the State Department still vacant, it remains to be seen whether the Trump Administration has the bandwidth to take this on.
The United States should be working in the United Nations Security Council toward a strong resolution on the situation in Myanmar. Even if this doesn’t reach the finish line, the effort will put pressure on China and in turn, the Burmese. For this to work, President Trump, who has declined to speak out on this issue so far, needs to engage and put his weight behind the effort.
The United States should consider targeted sanctions against senior regime officials in Burma, signaling to the government that the United States will fundamentally reevaluate the constructive relationship we’ve built with them over the past few years. We need to make clear to the Burmese regime what they are putting at stake by doing this.