World Bank. Some 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of political and criminal violence, and no low-income fragile or conflict-affected country has yet to achieve a single Millennium Development Goal. Fixing the economic, political, and security problems that disrupt development and trap fragile states in cycles of violence requires strengthening national institutions and improving governance in ways that prioritize citizen security, justice, and jobs, according to a new report from the World Bank.
“If we are to break the cycles of violence and lessen the stresses that drive them, countries must develop more legitimate, accountable and capable national institutions that provide for citizen security, justice and jobs.” said World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick. “Children living in fragile states are twice as likely to be undernourished and three times as likely to be out of school. And the effects of violence in one area can spread to neighboring states and to other parts of the world, hurting development prospects of others and impeding economic prospects for entire regions.”
The World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development follows a speech delivered by Zoellick in 2008 to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, entitled “Fragile States: Securing Development”. Noting that military and development disciplines too often worked on separate paths, Zoellick called for bringing security and development together to break the cycles of fragility and violence affecting more than one billion people.
The report notes that at least 1.5 billion people are still affected by current violence or its legacies. The report shows how 21st century organized violence appears to be spurred by a range of domestic and international stresses, such as youth unemployment, income shocks, tensions among ethnic, religious or social groups, and trafficking networks. In citizen surveys done for the report, unemployment was overwhelmingly the most important factor cited for recruitment into gangs and rebel movements. Risks of violence are greater when high stresses combine with weak capacity or lack of legitimacy in key national institutions, as shown by the recent turbulence in the Middle East and North Africa.
Capable, legitimate institutions are crucial because they are able to mediate the stresses that otherwise lead to repeated waves of violence and instability: more than 90 percent of civil wars in the 2000s occurred in countries that already had a civil war in the previous 30 years. Elsewhere, gains made through peace processes are often undermined by high levels of organized crime. And countries where violence takes root fall far behind in development, with poverty rates more than 20 percentage points higher, on average, in countries where violence is protracted than in other countries.
|Complete Report (13.9 mb)|
|Report Synopsis (multilingual)|
|English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish|
|Facts and Figures (multilingual)|
|English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish|
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Chapter 1, Repeated violence threatens development, explores the challenge: repeated cycles of organized criminal violence and civil conflict that threaten development locally and regionally and are responsible for much of the global deficit in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
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Chapter 2, Vulnerability to violence, reviews the combination of internal and external stresses and institutional factors that lead to violence. It argues that capable, accountable, and legitimate institutions are the common “missing factor” explaining why some societies are more resilient to violence than others. Without attention to institutional transformation, countries are susceptible to a vicious cycle of repeated violence.
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Chapter 3, From violence to resilience: Restoring confidence and transforming institutions, presents the WDR framework, or “virtuous cycle.” It compiles research and case study experience to show how countries have successfully moved away from fragility and violence: by mobilizing coalitions in support of citizen security, justice, and jobs to restore confidence in the short term and by transforming national institutions over time. This is a repeated process that seizes multiple transition moments and builds cumulative progress. It takes a generation.
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|Chapter 4, Restoring confidence: Moving away from the brink, reviews lessons from national experience in restoring confidence by mobilizing ‘inclusive-enough’ coalitions of stakeholders and by delivering results. Collaborative coalitions often combine government and nongovernmental leadership to build national support for change and signal an irreversible break with the past. Restoring confidence in situations of low trust means delivering some fast results, since government announcements of change will not be credible without tangible action.|
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|Chapter 5, Transforming institutions to deliver security, justice, and jobs, reviews national experience in prioritizing foundational reforms that provide citizen security, justice, and jobs—and stem the illegal financing of armed groups. In moving forward institutional transformation in complex conflict settings, case studies emphasize that perfection should not be the enemy of progress—pragmatic, “best-fit” approaches should be used to address immediate challenges.|
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|Chapter 6, International support to building confidence and transforming institutions, turns to lessons from international support to national processes. While registering some notable successes, it argues that international interventions are often fragmented, slow to enter, quick to exit, reliant on international technical assistance, and delivered through parallel systems. The chapter considers why international action has been slow to change. International actors have to respond to their own domestic pressures to avoid risk and deliver fast results. Different parts of the international system—middle-income versus OECD actors, for example—face different domestic pressures, undermining cohesive support.|
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|Chapter 7, International action to mitigate external stresses, provides lessons from international action to combat external security, economic, and resource stresses that increase conflict risk. The stresses range from trafficking in drugs and natural resources to food insecurity and other economic shocks. The chapter also addresses lessons from regional and cross-border initiatives to manage these threats.|
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|Chapter 8, Practical country directions and options, provides practical options for national and international reformers to take advantage of multiple transition opportunities, restore confidence, and transform institutions in countries facing a range of institutional challenges, stresses, and forms of violence.|
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Chapter 9, New directions for international support, identifies four tracks for international action. First, to invest in prevention through citizen security, justice and jobs. Second, internal agency reforms to provide faster assistance for confidence-building and longer term institutional engagement. Third, acting at the regional level on external stresses. Fourth, marshalling the knowledge and resources of low, middle, and high-income countries.
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