P Uvin (2001)
24 pages (510 kb)
How can donors better use Official Development Assistance (ODA) to create incentives and disincentives to reduce violent conflict and build durable peace? This paper from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) presents the results of two workshops held in 1999, which reviewed case studies on Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda and Sri Lanka, and relevant policy research. It argues that the most important issue is how to manage (dis)incentives so as to promote conditions and dynamics propitious to non-violent conflict resolution.
The end of the Cold War led to far-reaching political changes that culminated in a great rise in civil wars, as well as a willingness by international donors to promote democratic and peaceful change in those same regions. However, the context of deep social divisions and weak governance in affected countries has meant an extended need for humanitarian assistance and development aid, under extremely difficult conditions. Incentives for peace refer to all purposeful uses of aid that strengthen the dynamics that favour peace by influencing actors' behaviour; strengthening pro-poor actors' capacities; changing the relations between conflicting actors; and influencing the social and economic environment. Disincentives do the opposite: they strengthen and encourage the dynamics that favour violence.
All aid, at all times, creates incentives and disincentives, for peace or for war, before, during or after war ( regardless of whether these effects are deliberate, recognised or not).
- The issue is not whether or not to create (dis)incentives but, rather, how to manage them so as to promote conditions and dynamics propitious to non-violent conflict resolution.
- Aid managers need to face up to the political nature of all aid. This involves recognising that perceptions matter as much as facts in aid impacts.
- Aid alone usually has limited capacity to determine the dynamics of violent conflict; it is often weak compared to the range of pressures and interests emanating from international, national, regional and local actors, both public and private.
- The impact of ODA on the dynamics of peace and violence in recipient countries takes place within the broader, often volatile, environment of the of the country's international relations.
Donors should work with non-ODA actors to develop a coherent and comprehensive policy involving diplomacy, military relations, finance and trade. They should also develop and implement innovative approaches to maximise and fine tune the capacity of ODA to create (dis)incentives for peace for particular actors. Key components of this will be:
- The use of ODA in new domains, including politically sensitive areas such as the judiciary and security.
- Explicit attention to the way project design influences the dynamics of violence and peace.
- Investment in new kinds of knowledge and human resources for understanding the histories and social dynamics of inequality, division and violence in societies, and the role of external actors therein.
- The creation of more decentralised decision-making, allowing for timely and more locally-owned and coordinated responses to unfolding dynamics.
- The targeting of incentives and disincentives for peace at all parties to conflicts, including non-state and sub-state actors.
- Development of explicit regional strategies.
- An awareness that conditionality does not usually work. There are a range of alternatives available including long-term constructive engagement, principled behaviour and negotiated benchmarks.
Source: OECD, 2001, ‘The Influence of Aid in Situations of Violent Conflict’, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Conflict Prevention and Development Co-operation Papers, DAC Journal, vol. 2, no. 1
Related resources: Uvin, P., 1998, ‘Development Aid: Conclusions and Paths for Reflection’, in Aiding Violence: the Development Enterprise in Rwanda, Kumarian Press, West Hartford http://www.grc-exchange.org.uk/grc/info/summary.cfm?no=947
Uvin, P., 2001, Difficult Choices in the New Post-conflict Agenda: The International Community in Rwanda After the Genocide, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 2 http://www.grc-exchange.org.uk/grc/info/summary.cfm?no=1461
This document forms part of the GRC Exchange topic guide page on "Conflict causes and dynamics" - part of the wider GRC Exchange topic guide on " Violent conflict and governance".