Peace and Development Part II

Peace and Development 2

6: War – almost always a threat to development

It is thus not necessarily the case that a lack of development leads to a greater risk of civil war, even if some features point in that direction. The other way, however, is a clear connection: War usually leads to less development – sets the development in a country back.

This has completely natural causes. A war draws a lot of resources, both from public funds and good people who could otherwise have been invested in development. School buildings, roads, houses, crops and livestock are destroyed and can put communities back decades. Farmers often have to flee, and thus land is left fallow. In addition, uncertainty is an important obstacle to development. If people are not confident about the future, they do not dare to invest in agriculture and other productive activities.

Several studies show a fairly direct link between war and increasing illiteracy, infant mortality and many other problems. Infrastructure is deteriorating, governance is deteriorating, with more corruption and less democracy. So-called “social capital” – about whether people trust each other and cooperate – is greatly weakened.
There will be large flows of refugees, which will create problems for neighboring countries (and to a lesser extent for more distant, rich countries such as Norway).

The problems last long after there has been peace. Landmines can lie for a long time. Children and young people have had their future ruined. Both soldiers and their victims become more likely to use violence even after the war ends. Soldiers may have contracted HIV, which is spread to war victims and their families.

7: Can aid promote peace?

Aid has many challenges when it comes to peace and security. First, the link itself is problematic. Many are skeptical that aid organizations and military forces are working together. It can threaten the legitimacy and safety of aid workers. It can often seem as if development assistance is to support military interests rather than development for the development – and the poor -‘s own part. At a global level, it seems that countries with conflict receive much more aid than other poor countries with major challenges. It can almost seem as if the poor are “punished” for keeping peace with each other, because they then get less international attention!

Secondly, it is difficult to know how aid can contribute to peace. This is an issue that aid organizations have worked on extensively over the last twenty years. Basically, development is enormously difficult during war and war-like conditions. All development measures are then risky, and more expensive than in peaceful countries. Perhaps the authorities will be uncooperative if an aid project can seem like a help to the “enemy” – e.g. a rebel region. In extreme cases, helpers can contribute little more than humanitarian efforts to save lives in the short term and support people in refugee camps. Then it is difficult to create visible development that gives people faith in the future.

Government building is seen as a particularly important development assistance strategy. A well-functioning state with good governance and legitimate leaders reduces the risk of civil war, leads to less recruitment of terrorists and supports development. But even though state-building is a correct and important form of aid, it is very difficult to achieve in practice.

8: Aid can intensify conflict …

According to DISEASESLEARNING.COM, assistance can also exacerbate conflict. It can sharpen the level of conflict in a society because different groups often believe – whether they are right or not – that they get less than others. Assistance to the authorities can give the state more resources, which makes it more tempting for rebel groups to fight to gain control of these resources. Other studies say the opposite, namely that aid makes the state stronger, and contributes to economic growth which – if it is distributed and managed well – strengthens development and promotes peace.

There are cases where aid and relief organizations have been accused of being controlled and used by warring parties. Emergency aid and other resources may go astray and be used by soldiers. Refugee camps can become a refuge for war criminals, which happened after the genocide in Rwanda. There are also examples of refugee camps providing protection and food for soldiers while they plan new acts of war. Some even believe that emergency aid has made wars more brutal because the parties know that aid organizations are always ready to take care of the victims. In Sierra Leone, it is claimed that the soldiers were deliberately brutal against the civilian population to “attract” aid organizations.

Aid organizations have taken such allegations seriously and are doing much to avoid adverse effects. This is called “do no harm”, and everyone who works with assistance in conflict areas knows these principles. With these changes, it is less likely that past mistakes will be repeated. We can therefore assume that modern aid and
emergency aid in most cases contribute to peace and development.

On the other hand, many experiences show that a sudden reduction in aid increases the risk of war. This is probably due to the fact that dissatisfaction is increasing among potential rebel groups that have become accustomed to benefiting from aid resources. The problem was that many have become accustomed to being able to “drain” some state resources in both legal (subsidy) and illegal (corruption) ways.

As the state became poorer, that opportunity disappeared, and people became more hostile. In several cases – such as Liberia in 1999, Sierra Leone in 1990, and Ghana in 1981 – war broke out within a year after aid to the country was sharply reduced. It is similar to the trend of increased social unrest due to economic downturns, which was seen in many developing countries in the 1980s and 1990s and in Arab countries in the last year.

9: Aid can strengthen peace …

Researchers generally agree that once peace is in sight, development measures will be very important. This applies in any case if the peace has come through a peace agreement between the parties, but not necessarily if one party has completely defeated the other. It is extremely important that former enemies do not again begin to become dissatisfied, and perhaps take up arms again. The challenge is particularly great because most peace agreements in recent years have taken place at the same time as democratization. The leaders must not only keep peace with their former enemies, but must also satisfy voters who can cast them if they are not satisfied.

Strategies for strengthening peace must be adapted to each country, but according to the World Bank , it is important to create a “good circle”. That is, where people constantly experience improvements in their own everyday lives at the same time as trust in the state and other institutions is strengthened. It is a time consuming, fragile and risky process. One of the most important measures, according to the World Bank, is to create jobs, to avoid unemployment leading to dissatisfaction.

Peace and Development 2