Conflits, fragilité et résilience

Conflict and Fragility


We must address the needs of the furthest behind first.

Conflict and fragility negatively affect the lives of millions and pose a pressing challenge to ensuring a safer and more equitable world for developed and developing countries. They undermine development gains and block the path out of poverty. Their negative consequences can destabilise entire regions and have global repercussions. Countries affected by conflict and fragility are also more vulnerable to both internal and external shocks.

The States of Fragility report series is one of the few sources for aggregate data and analysis of financial flows to fragile contexts.  The forthcoming 2016 report defines fragility as a combination of risk with insufficient capacity by the state, system and/or communities, to manage, absorb or mitigate its impact.  Better understanding, and addressing, fragility will help the world meet its Agenda 2030 goals and advance global security and well-being.

States affected by conflict and fragility are the most challenging operating environments for development actors.  International support can play a crucial role, and official development assistance (ODA) remains an important source of development financing in fragile contexts.    More effective international support requires sustained and coordinated engagement to tackle the risks and vulnerabilities inherent in such situations and use aid strategically as an element of a more holistic and integrated approach.

The International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF), a part of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), is a forum for international partners to exchange knowledge and good practice on engagements in such contexts, improve policy and programming responses and track results.

Better programming

New thinking is emerging on the nature of fragility and risk. This includes a shift from a one-dimensional understanding of fragility towards a more holistic approach in which degrees of fragility exist on a spectrum of dimensions and risks; which recognises the need for collaborative, regional and global solutions to tackle the root causes and consequences of fragility and risk when they are transnational; and which acknowledges the need to broaden the use of institutional influences, policy levers, and expertise “beyond aid”. Programming in situations of fragility and crisis needs to better reflect this understanding to realise the commitments made under the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, and ensure that the most vulnerable are not left behind. In this context, the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) commissioned the report Good Development Support in Fragile, At-risk and Crisis-affected Contexts as a practical contribution to current learning and thinking on how to work more effectively in fragile, at-risk and crisis-affected contexts.

Security and justice

Security and justice are crucial for reducing poverty and realising broader development goals. The ability to live in reasonable safety and with an expectation of fair, non-discriminatory treatment is critical to both individual and collective self-development. Providing security and justice is a core government responsibility, necessary for economic and social development and vital for the protection of human rights. In particular, women and children suffer disproportionately from crime, insecurity and fear brought on by bad policing, weak justice and penal systems, and corrupt militaries. There is significant evidence, notably summarised in the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report, on the importance of prioritising the institutions that provide citizen security and justice (as well as jobs) to break cycles of conflict and violence and lay the foundations for development. If states are to create the conditions in which they can escape from a downward spiral wherein insecurity, crime and underdevelopment are mutually reinforcing, then socioeconomic, justice and security dimensions must be tackled simultaneously.

It is this recognition that also led to the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 16, which emphasises the importance of just, peaceful and inclusive societies and draws attention to the need to address violence and a lack of access to justice. The 2016 version of the OECDs flagship publication States of Fragility also puts a spotlight on the topic of violence, its impact on and relation to fragility.

Effective external support for security and justice development is challenging because it is a politically sensitive and complex undertaking. Control over, and access to, security and justice are issues central to any society; and hence subject to controversy and diverging interests. Security and justice reforms touch the foundations of political power and societal and elite interests. Key ingredients for engagement are therefore political savviness, long time horizons, dialogue, good contextual understanding, local ownership and an incremental approach.

Security sector reform

International support for security system reform (SSR) has become a central component of efforts to overcome fragility and conflict, encompassing effective governance, oversight and accountability; improved delivery of services; local ownership of the reform process; and sustainability of security and justice service delivery. The challenge for donors remains how to ensure that they support reform processes that are sustainable, underpin poverty reduction through enhanced service delivery, and help partner countries develop effective and accountable systems of security and justice.

Improving security and justice development in fragile and conflict-affected states

In 2010 the OECD’s International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF) initiated a project aiming to identify how international support for security and justice development in fragile and conflict-affected states could be improved. Its first phase resulted in a working paper: The Challenges of Supporting Effective Security and Justice Development Programming, which lays out a set of hypotheses. Those hypotheses were tested by mixed teams of international and national consultants via in-country case studies of nine different security and justice projects in four countries. The results are captured in the report Improving International Support for Security and Justice Development Programming in Fragile Situations: Better Political Engagement, More Change Management.

The 2009 report Security System Reform: What Have We Learned? summarised lessons learned from the responses from donor agency headquarters and partner countries to the publication and dissemination of the OECD DAC Handbook on Security System Reform: Supporting Security and Justice, which was published in 2007.

The SSR Handbook aimed to distil good practices and lessons learned into a guide that would provide practical guidance “to ensure that donor support to SSR programmes is both effective and sustainable.” The handbook thus laid down the essential elements for the assessment, design and implementation of SSR programmes within a framework of security and justice service delivery, with the aim of setting norms and bringing about behavioural change.

Other relevant INCAF publications in this field include the 2009 report State-Provided Service, Contracting Out, and Non-State Networks: Justice and Security as Public and Private Goods and Services, the 2007 report Enhancing the Delivery of Justice and Security: Governance, Peace and Security, the 2007 ODA Casebook on Conflict, Peace and Security Activities, as well as the 2005 report on Security System Reform and Governance.

Service Delivery

In fragile situations, the state often fails to provide core services such as health, education and water and, at times, may not be seen by parts of the population as a legitimate provider of security and justice. Violence, endemic corruption, skewed budget allocations for particular ethnic or religious groups, and the exclusion of women and minorities can further increase social insecurity and undermine the foundations of just and equitable service delivery systems.

Yet, while fragility has a negative impact on public services, there is also evidence that improvements in service delivery can contribute to strengthening governance and reducing fragility. This has major implications for how donors choose to engage in different fragile contexts. Not only does it require well-designed and contextually adapted approaches, but also careful attention to ensure that enhancing service delivery in the short term can make a contribution to state building in the long term. Given the complexities of service delivery in fragile settings, this is not an easy task.

The 2008 report Service Delivery in Fragile Situations, based on the work of the DAC Fragile States Group, identified the challenges and dilemmas the international community and its partners face in delivering services in fragile situations and offers practical guidance on how to overcome such challenges.

Violence Reduction

Over the last 15 years, 53 countries have been or are now affected by some form of political violence; affecting 3.34 billion people, or almost half of the world’s population. While the number of active civil wars has declined, armed conflict fatalities and refugees are at their highest number in over two decades. In addition, interpersonal violence can pose a greater risk of death in non-conflict settings than those experiencing war. The adverse impact of violence on development means that violence needs to be addressed and reduced in order to effectively realise a wide range of development outcomes.

Evidence suggests that effective interventions to reduce violence include participatory assessments, a good evidence base, simultaneous engagement in multiple sectors (reflecting the broad range of interrelated issues and actors involved) at multiple levels – local, national, regional and global – and over a long time horizon.

INCAF’s previous work on armed violence contributed to a better understanding of its causes, and provided recommendations to help reduce the incidence of armed conflict. INCAF continues to take this work forward, including with the 2016 issue of the OECD’s publication States of Fragility, with the special topic of violence.

Preventing and Reducing Armed Violence in Urban Areas: programming note, 2011
Investing in Security: A Global Assessment of Armed Violence Reduction Initiatives, 2011
Reducing the involvement of Youth in Armed Violence, 2009
Preventing Violence, War and State Collapse, 2009
Armed Violence Reduction: Enabling Development, 2009


International Engagement in Fragile Contexts

Recognising the need for different approaches to engagement in fragile states, members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) have sought to reflect their experience in a common international policy framework.

The New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States

In 2009 the DAC established a subsidiary body called the International Network on Conflict and Fragility  (INCAF). Through INCAF, DAC members participate actively in the development of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States in partnership with the g7+, which is a voluntary association of 20 countries that are or have been affected by conflict, as well as civil society. 

This collaboration was done under the aegis of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, which is the first forum to bring together conflict-affected and fragile countries, international partners and civil society to catalyse successful transitions from conflict and fragility. 

Since 2011, the New Deal has been endorsed by more than 40 countries and organisations as part of the new Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. The New Deal is now the main international policy framework that sets the standard and principles of engagement among these countries and organisations. The importance of this framework has most recently been reaffirmed through the Stockholm Declaration


Fragile States Principles

The Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States and Situations – or Fragile States Principles (FSPs) – were developed and endorsed in 2007 by OECD ministers as a set of guidelines for actors involved in development co-operation, peacebuilding, statebuilding and security in fragile and conflict-affected states. In particular, the FSPs sought to help translate the principles of aid effectiveness – as per the Paris Declaration of 2005 – into contexts of fragility and conflict and help to foster constructive donor engagement where governance is weak and politics volatile.

It is increasingly recognised by the international community that to be effective a common policy framework is needed, not only among DAC members, but also among all partners engaged in fragile states. This idea was one of the founding influences on the New Deal.



Statebuilding is a process to enhance capacity, institutions, and legitimacy of the state driven by state-society relations. At its core, it is a deeply political process forged out of complex struggles over the balance of power, the rules of engagement and how resources should be distributed.

Statebuilding needs to be understood in the context of state-society relations; the evolution of a state’s relationship with society is at its heart. Statebuilding is first and foremost an endogenous process: there are therefore limits as to what the international community can and should do. Understanding the context – especially what is perceived as legitimate in a specific context – is crucial if international support is to be useful.

There are three crucial aspects of state-society relations that influence the resilience or fragility of states. These aspects should also be understood to exist within a larger regional and global policy environment and to operate at multiple levels – national and sub-national – within the domestic polity. The three dimensions are:

  • The political settlement, which reflects the implicit or explicit agreement (among elites principally) on the “rules of the game”, power distribution and the political processes through which state and society are connected.
  • The capability and responsiveness of the state to effectively fulfil its principal functions and provide key services.
  • Broad social expectations and perceptions about what the state should do, what the terms of the state-society relationships should be, and the ability of society to articulate demands that are “heard.”

Policy guidance on statebuilding

Supporting Statebuilding in Situations of Conflict and Fragility: Policy Guidance consolidates emerging thinking on statebuilding and lays out clear recommendations for better practice. It provides an internationally accepted conceptual framework for statebuilding, informed by today’s realities of conflict-affected and fragile situations. Building on good practices already being successfully applied on the ground, this guidance lays out how developing and developed countries can better facilitate positive statebuilding processes and strengthen the foundations upon which capable and legitimate states are built. The recommendations in this guidance address critical areas for better international engagement from strategy development, and programme design and delivery to day-to-day operations in the field and at headquarters.


Financing for Contexts of Fragility and Conflict


The 2030 Agenda holds much promise for countries seeking a way out of fragility and crisis. The Sustainable Development Goals, with their promise of ‘no one left behind’, coupled with concrete promises in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for more and better quality resources, provide solid foundations for delivering on the peacebuilding and state-building goals, building resilient societies, and dealing with humanitarian emergencies, even in the most difficult places: reducing the risks of instability and shocks: for individual countries, for their neighbours and region, and for the world as a whole.

Doing so will require a new type of partnership between the different stakeholders engaged in countries at risk of conflict, fragility and shocks. Development actors working on peacebuilding and state-building will need to join forces with the private sector, with humanitarian actors, with political decision makers and security sector actors; with academics and scientists; as well as with regional bodies, and with governments, both national and local or municipal. Getting this right will require solid political will from all these actors; commitments to work more coherently in these difficult contexts – not pooling funds and resources, but instead ensuring that each actor’s individual efforts work towards common goals: overcoming the factors that have led these nations and communities to be more exposed to fragility and shocks, and leaving no one behind.  

To do this, we will need enough quality finance – finance that arrives in the right place, in the right way, at the right time – and with the right mix of partners.The Addis agreement recognises that everyone has a part to play in financing development: the private sector through increased investments, developing countries through increased tax revenues, and new and traditional aid donors: many of whom have already committed to greater resources for fragile and crisis contexts.

The challenge is to ‘layer’ these different resources so that each individual context receives enough of the right types of finance to respond to all of its different challenges. This will involve working out the right mix of finance and partnerships for individual contexts, for example:


  • grants and trust funds for peacebuilding,  and risk finance, to address the underlying drivers of fragility and crisis, alongside
  • financing for programming by peace operations, alongside
  • multilateral actors, and the private sector, including working with local and municipal governments, alongside
  • bilateral grants, technical co-operation, loans and domestic tax revenue for strengthening national institutions, including policy reforms, infrastructure and service delivery capacity, alongside
  • humanitarian finance directly for communities and families at risk


Transition financing

Developed at the request of the OECD DAC and the UN Secretary-General, International Support to Post-Conflict Transition: Rethinking Policy, Changing Practice (also known as the INCAF transition financing guidance) presents clear recommendations for better practice in order to improve the speed, flexibility, predictability and risk management of aid during transition. The guidance also aims to help donors improve coherence in international responses across various principles and mandates. Many of the policy commitments contained in the guidance are also reflected in the New Deal – particularly the emphasis on priority-setting; risk management; predictable, transparent, and flexible funding; and the use of transition compacts.

Effective financing in fragile contexts has to not only meet local needs and priorities, but also strengthen country systems if state capacity is to be built over the medium and long term. The use of country systems to provide donor financing in fragile environments carries high risks. But it also can be an opportunity for building state capacity, which may lead to even greater benefits overall. Getting the balance right between risks and opportunities is a fundamental aspect of engaging effectively in fragile states.

INCAF is working with donors – and partner countries – to develop guidance for developing innovative financing instruments that provide for a more harmonised approach, while strengthening local country systems and managing risk at acceptable levels.

Vist the list of conflict, fragility and resilience publications


Documents connexes


Also AvailableEgalement disponible(s)