After more than a decade of experience and research on financing arrangements in post conflict countries and fragile states, a consensus has emerged on at least one matter. The core objective is to build effective and legitimate governance structures that secure public confidence through provision of personal security, equal justice and the rule of law, economic well-being, and essential social services including education and health. These governance structures are necessary to ensure that countries do not turn, or turn back, to violence as a means of negotiating state-societal relations. This paper discusses a number of the weaknesses in current financing arrangements for post conflict countries and fragile states, with a focus on Official Development Assistance (ODA). We argue that tensions persist between business-as-usual development policies on the one hand and policies responsive to the demands of peace building on the other. The preferential allocation of aid to ‘good performers,’ in the name of maximizing its payoff in terms of economic growth, militates against aid to fragile and conflict-affected states. If the aim of aid is redefined to include durable peace, the conventional performance criteria for aid allocation lose much of their force. Compelling arguments can be made for assistance to ‘poor performers’ if this can help to prevent conflict. Yet the difficulties that initially prompted donors to become more selective in aid allocation remain all too real. Experience has shown that aid can exacerbate problems rather than solving them.
In the aftermath of violent conflict, how do the economic challenges of statebuilding intersect with the political challenges of peacebuilding? How can the international community help lay the fiscal foundations for a sustainable state and a durable peace? In their new edited volume, Peace and the Public Purse, James Boyce, (Director of PERI’s Development, Peacebuilding, & the Environment Program), and Madalene O’Donnell (United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations) lift the curtain that often has separated economic policy from peace implementation. Postwar governments face immediate demands for restoration of basic services, jobs, and public security. To raise revenues to meet these pressing needs, they must contend with local powerbrokers who levy their own informal taxes, economic elites determined to retain special privileges and immunities, and a populace skeptical about the state’s ability to deliver services in return for taxes. Drawing on recent experiences in war-torn societies such as Uganda, Cambodia, Bosnia, Guatemala, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan, and Palestine, this book brings to life a key dimension of how peace and states are built.
Societies embarked on the fragile transition from war to peace face enormous economic, social, and political challenges. In attempting to support this transition, the international community often provides substantial amounts of external assistance. This aid can play an important and constructive role in meeting pressing social needs and building a durable peace, but it would be naïve to assume either that positive effects are the automatic result of good intentions or that donors are motivated entirely by the objective of peacebuilding. This paper reviews evidence on the impact of aid in “post-conflict” settings and offers suggestions for making aid more effective in supporting efforts to build a durable peace. Part I discusses how economic assistance and conditionalities can be realigned to better serve peacebuilding objectives. Part II considers the other side of the coin: how peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding assistance can better support economic recovery, in particular by helping to build state fiscal capacities. Finally, Part III examines the interests and incentive structures that shape the behavior of aid donors, suggesting that their actions can be part of the problem as well as part of the solution.
In the wake of violent conflict, a key element of building a durable peace is building a state with the ability to collect and manage public resources. To implement peace accords and provide public services, the government must be able to collect revenue, allocate resources, and manage expenditure in a manner that is regarded by its citizens as effective and equitable. This paper addresses eight key issues related to this challenge. The first four pertain to resource mobilization: (i) How should distributional impacts enter into revenue policies? (ii) How can postwar external assistance do more to prime the pump of domestic revenue capacity? (iii) Should macroeconomic strictures prescribed for economic stabilization be relaxed to foster political stabilization? (iv) How should the benefits of external resources be weighed against their costs? The second four issues relate to the expenditure side of public finance: (i) How should the dynamics of conflict be factored into public spending policies? (ii) Can the pathologies of a ‘dual public sector’ – one funded and managed by the government, the other by the aid donors – be surmounted by channeling external resources through the government, with dual-control oversight mechanisms to reduce corruption? (iii) How should long-term fiscal sustainability enter into short-term expenditure decisions? (iv) Lastly, is there scope for more innovative solutions to postwar legacies of external debts?