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DFID research: Crisis States: moving away from the “post-conflict” culture

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Crisis States Research Centre recently published a final report synthesising the project.

The Crisis States Research Centre, a major DFID programme managed by the London School of Economics and Political Science, recently published a final report synthesising the whole programme. The paper presents the findings of the second phase of the project, which ran between 2005 and 2010. The project aimed to develop a conceptual framework which could help identify trends in crisis states towards fragility or resilience.

With core case studies in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, the Philippines, Tanzania and Zambia the research attempted to compare countries with different experiences of war and state recovery (with two control cases which were unaffected by war or state collapse).

Looking at the evidence gathered, the authors, James Putzel and Jonathan Di John, highlight the confusion still prevalent in aid programmes working within these crisis states. With policy implications outlined within specific themes, the report emphasises the need for a better understanding of the drivers of violence.

The research findings are outlined in seven key areas:

Seeing the state as a political settlement: elite bargains and social mobilisation

The report suggests post-war reconstruction efforts are more effective when the state is considered as a political settlement; it promotes the accommodation of political coalition as a tool for facilitating progressive and stable change.

Distinguishing state fragility and resilience

The authors argue that this distinction is crucial in understanding patterns. The project included city case studies as well as those at national level. The report highlights the significance of urban settlements as sub-national units of analysis which provide a means of understanding the political landscape and planning better development strategies.

Political organisations and trajectories of fragility and resilience

Arguing that they have ultimate power over relationships between elites, the paper emphasises the need to focus upon political organisations when attempting to influence state governance.

Politics of violent conflict: rebels, warlords and urban civic conflict

The authors suggest that the political aspects of civic conflict are often not taken into consideration, again highlighting the benefits of city-level qualitative research.

Military interventions, regional organisations and prospects for peace making and peace building

Following a large N-study of military intervention in the developing world, the report details the negative associations which exist around the consolidation of democracy post intervention. The policy implications articluate a need to harmonise international approaches to mediation which factor in longer timeframes for effective long term impact.

Economic resource mobilisation: trajectories of accumulation and links to fragility and resilience in states and cities

Resilience does not necessarily ensure economic growth. The paper highlights the extensive impact of external interventions on the economic choices available in both fragile and resilient states and encourages consideration of the political implications of economic deregulation.

From fragility and resilience to development

Referring to resilient yet economically stagnant states, the paper suggests employing incremental development strategies which work sector by sector to create stronger economic growth.

The paper provides a comprehensive overview of six years of research into this delicate and complex area of development. As the author’s themselves acknowledge, **conflict is part of the human condition and as such should not necessarily be defined as simply as “development in reverse”. **

**This report rejects the use of the term “post conflict” **and instead uses the research findings of the project to encourage new perspectives which attempt to harness the unique challenges and potential opportunities for progressive development which fragility and crisis can unearth.

See here for the full report.