Norway and World Bank step up cooperation on conflict and development

With 1.5 billion people living in areas affected by political conflict and criminal violence, citizen security, justice and jobs are the most effective measures to ensure development, says the World Bank.

Norwegian Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim and World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick today participated in a meeting hosted by the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs to focus on cooperation in the face of current conflict, security and development challenges.

The meeting discussed the main messages of the World Bank’s World Development Report 2011 (WDR), which underlines that at least 1.5 billion people currently live in areas affected by political conflict and criminal violence, and that successful transitions require national leadership and international support to build legitimate institutions for citizen security, justice and jobs.

“It is a terrible mistake to underplay the enormous impact conflict has on development. I have put this acknowledgement at the centre of our development policy over the last 5 years, and will continue to do so. There is one message from the report, however, that is extremely encouraging: It tells us that it is possible to get your country out of the quick-sand of war and into development. It tells us that with the right combination of national leadership and international support, countries can rid themselves of conflict and stimulate development. That is good news,” said Solheim.

Among some key points of the WDR are that: no countries suffering from repeated cycles of political and criminal violence have achieved a single Millennium Development Goal (MDG); children living in fragile states are twice as likely to be undernourished and three times as likely to be out of school; fragile and conflict states drag down neighbors with violence that spills over borders.

“Each civil conflict can cost a developing country roughly 30 years of growth, impacting generations to come, so the stakes are enormous. The World Bank recognizes the security challenges to development and we’re pleased to work with key partners such as Norway in rethinking how we and others target our assistance and leverage lessons learned,” said Zoellick, who noted that it was fitting to have the WDR seminar on the margins of the Nordic and Baltic World Bank Governors meetings because the countries had been so supportive of the WDR.

“From promoting institutional stability to investing in citizen justice and jobs, the WDR has highlighted many ideas and approaches needed to break the cycles of violence, and I look forward to seeing these ideas implemented,” said Zoellick.

During the meeting, participants exchanged on the relevance of the WDR to current situations such as the political transitions in Egypt and Tunisia, the newly emerging state of South Sudan and rising criminal violence in Central America.  Discussions focused on mechanisms to put the report’s recommendations into practice, through reform in international aid programs to recognize 21st Century risks of violence, and increased action on jobs and justice to underpin violence prevention.

Norway and the World Bank have undertaken to increase their cooperation on the links between conflict, security and development in four areas:

  • Country level programs in areas facing priority challenges, such as South Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, and North Africa. Assistance needs to be provided faster than in the past, and needs to mobilize international actors in a more coordinated way, through the combined security, justice, and development programs recommended in the WDR;
  • Developing global expertise that can deliver on these programs. The World Bank’s new Nairobi Centre for Conflict, Security, and Development offers the opportunity to strengthen the expertise needed to support these combined programs, in conjunction with other initiatives such as the UN’s civilian capacity review;
  • Strengthening cooperation  between the United Nations system, the IFIs and regional organizations, such as the development of combined assessments and practical tools to combine progress in security sector reform, justice and jobs;
  • Supporting a global knowledge platform on conflict, security and development and transition experiences, which would enable more reliable measurement of results and facilitate exchanges between national reformers and international experience, such as those recently held in Cairo and Tunis on the transition experiences of Indonesia, South Africa, Georgia and Chile.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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