Development for Peace: A Task for Development Policy

A woman buying water at the first water kiosk in Yei in South Sudan

As the Millennium De­cla­ra­tion makes clear, develop­ment and peace are in­extri­ca­bly linked. That is why the Fe­de­ral Re­pub­lic of Ger­many assists its partner countries in miti­ga­ting the struc­tu­r­al causes of con­flicts and adop­ting measures to pre­vent esca­la­tion into a full-blown crisis at an early stage. It supports govern­mental and civil society actors in non-violent conflict manage­ment, and contri­butes to peace­buil­ding in post-conflict situa­tions and to pre­ven­ting a relapse into vio­lence.

It has been the experience of German development practitioners that transformation and development almost invariably lead to differences of interest and that conflicts can arise as a result. The policies they pursue therefore reflect this. The aim is not to avoid these social conflicts per se, but to prevent them from being conducted through violence and thus causing crisis situations. It is a basic tenet of German development policy that Germany can only encourage peacebuilding efforts in the partner countries and support people who act on their own initiative. However, development cooperation cannot resolve conflicts from outside, or safeguard peace.

In its cooperation with partner countries, Germany has already succeeded in making bilateral development cooperation more conflict-sensitive. In addition, good governance and peacebuilding are among the areas which have been agreed as priorities for cooperation with very many of Germany's partner countries. At present, around 30 percent of bilateral official development assistance (ODA) is allocated to projects relating to crises and conflicts. Partner countries Colombia, Sri Lanka, Guatemala and Senegal have each developed "crisis prevention and peaceful conflict transformation" as a sector priority, and many other partner countries have adopted crisis prevention and peaceful conflict transformation as a cross-cutting task.

Human security

In all its activities, German development policy is firmly committed to the principle of "human security". This concept of security embraces socio-economic aspects of security and risks to health, as well as food and environmental security – in other words, the "human dimensions" of security. It encompasses much more than simply protecting people from violence. The aim is also to enable stakeholders to develop their self-help capacities. This approach to development enables people to make the most of their opportunities and helps them live their lives free from fear and deprivation.

Cooperation with non-governmental organisations

Non-governmental development agencies play a key role in crisis prevention, conflict management and peacebuilding. The NGOs, political foundations and church-based development agencies working in this field have built up many years of experience and have developed their own strategies for peacebuilding. Their involvement is particularly important in situations in which official development cooperation is impossible due to political sensitivities, for example, or when civil society actors have established particularly good relations with specific target groups.

The "do no harm" principle

In some cases, development cooperation can have undesired consequences which – if projects are carried out in regions in which there is war or tension – may also lead to a worsening or escalation of conflict situations. So it is especially important that programmes dealing with crisis situations follow the principle of "do no harm". This means that the unintended consequences of development cooperation, especially those which worsen conflicts, are identified, avoided and mitigated. The assistance given should also provide targeted support for the peace process.

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