Fragile States

Germany's engagement in fragile states

Front Page: Development-Oriented Transformationin Conditions of Fragile Statehoodand poor Government PerformanceIn spring 2007, the Fede­ral Min­is­try for Eco­no­mic Co­ope­ra­tion and Deve­lop­ment (BMZ) un­veiled the strategy "Develop­ment-oriented Trans­forma­tion in Condi­tions of Fra­gile State­hood and Poor Govern­ment Per­for­mance". The strategy sets out a frame­work of action for Ger­man develop­ment co­ope­ra­tion with part­ner coun­tries in which such diffi­cult con­di­tions pre­vail. The stra­tegy is also intended as a guide for Ger­many's involve­ment in multi­lateral orga­nisa­tions such as the United Nations, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and the multi­lateral develop­ment banks.

Depending on the level of governance and governance trends in the country concerned, German development cooperation aims to protect suffering and vulnerable sections of the population, promote self-help, strengthen the forces of reform and encourage change in the conduct of governments or support their positive efforts. Development policy is closely dovetailed with foreign and security policy, especially when the development cooperation forms part of a peace operation in a post-conflict country.

The choice of fields of action, partners and instruments should be considered individually for each country. If a government is not willing to engage in dialogue, support may often have to be restricted solely to the provision of humanitarian aid. If a govern­ment shows willingness to reform, however, good governance projects can be implemented, such as programmes which boost democratic public participation, promote non-violent conflict management, help to establish transparent and efficient public administrations, and strengthen civilian oversight of the security sector.

Civil society plays a key role in the cooperation with fragile states. The more unstable the starting conditions, the greater the flexibility with which development policy must deploy its instru­ments and cooperate outside state structures with grass­roots non-governmental organisations and church development agencies, for example.

The OECD Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States

The BMZ's strategy "Development-oriented Transformation in Conditions of Fragile Statehood and Poor Government Perfor­mance" is based on the principles developed by the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in 2005, which were endorsed in April 2007 after a period of field testing. The Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States and Situations are as follows:

  • take context as the starting point;

  • ensure all activities do no harm;

  • focus on state-building as the central objective;

  • prioritise prevention;

  • recognise the links between foreign, security and development objectives;

  • promote non-discrimination as a basis for inclusive and stable societies;

  • align with local priorities;

  • agree on practical coordination mechanisms between international actors;

  • act fast, but stay engaged long enough to give success a chance;

  • avoid pockets of exclusion ("aid orphans").

Germany is a member of the "International Network on Conflict and Fragility" (INCAF), which coordinates the DAC's work on this issue.

Strategic development within the EU

The European Union regards state failure and bad governance as key threats to the EU Member States as they undermine global governance and add to regional instability. In its European Security Strategy, entitled "A Secure Europe in a Better World" and published in 2003, it emphasises: "Spreading good governance, supporting social and political reform, dealing with corruption and abuse of power, establishing the rule of law and protecting human rights are the best means of strengthening the international order."

Within the European Union framework, Germany is working for a unified strategy on dealing with unstable states. The issue was taken up, for example, in the 18-month work programme adopted by the Trio Presidency, that is Germany, Portugal and Slovenia, for the period from January 2007 to June 2008, the aim being to increase the focus on preventing fragile statehood, for example through anti-corruption measures, governance reforms and the promotion of the rule of law. Germany is also playing an active role in implementing the EU Strategy for Africa, which defines good governance as a key priority.

BMZ glossary

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