On January 12, 2012, over 40 senior-level policymakers from member states, think tanks, NGOs and other organizations participated in the event “Enhancing State-building and Governance in Fragile States: From Policy to Practice”, hosted by UNDPand the International Peace Institute (IPI). The event, focusing on a new approach or “New Deal” for helping fragile states transition to greater stability and prosperity, aimed to determine how this “New Deal” could be translated into real changes on the ground and invited the participants to add to this endeavor by sharing their experiences with state-building and highlighting the challenges they foresaw with regard to the New Deal.
The event opened with a welcome by IPI’s director of research, Mr. Francesco Mancini. The first session, entitled “The New Deal for Engagement with Fragile States,” was chaired by Mr. Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, and included remarks by H.E. Ambassador Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations as well as Dr. Sarah Cliffe, Special Adviser and Assistant Secretary-General of Civilian Capacities to the United Nations.
Ambassador Tanin began his remarks by recognizing the recent efforts of the g7+, a groupof 19 fragile and conflict affected states which aims to support the transition of fragilestates. The g7+ came together with donor countries and international organizations to form the “International Dialogue.” In Busan, South Korea on 30 November 2011, the Dialogue presented the vision of the New Deal, which has to date been endorsed by 32 countries and 5 organizations. Ambassador Tanin, hailing the g7+ as a “unified voice” for fragile states, focused on the emergence of its New Deal and the challenges that lie ahead.
The Ambassador argued that “the New Deal is an evolution of ideas, based on hard lessons learned” and that “the individual challenges and aspirations of many fragile and conflict-affected nations helped shape the elements of the New Deal and influenced its three pillars”. These pillars, consisting of the use of the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) as a foundation, a focus on supporting inclusive country-led and country-owned transition out of fragility, and the establishment of trust by providing aid and managing resources more effectively, he said, will hopefully foster “inclusive political settlements, ensur[e] security, promot[e] justice, develop economic foundation and build capacity for accountable and fair service delivery”.
Still, the New Deal must face the challenges of the past since, as Ambassador Tanin suggests, it is “influenced by both the successes and failures of past stabilization efforts”. The creators of the New Deal were aware of this as they aimed to draft a plan that will make statebuilding and capacity building processes more devoted to the specific needs of a certain fragile state, hoping that this will lead to a more effective tackling of the challenges a country faces.
The Ambassador also emphasized that organizations must avoid the threat of dependency when helping fragile states to transition. For even though international assistance is crucial in terms of helping fragile states such as Afghanistan achieve stability, a preponderance of this aid can be counterproductive as it decreases the relative power of the national government. For this reason, any capacity-building and state-building process must, according to Ambassador Tanin, keep in mind the “needs of the transition”.
In conclusion, the Ambassador noted that the success of the fragile states “requires a constant commitment for a responsible national leadership by the fragile countries and an enduring partnership and honored promises by developing partners” and commended the members of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding for having committed themselves to this responsibility.