Post-Conflict Economic Recovery: Enabling Local Ingenuity
May 1, 2008 | by
Since the end of the Cold War, around 100 violent conflicts have come to an end across the world. Although this is the result largely of the internal efforts of individual countries, it is also due to the dramatic increase in support from the international community. Still, for far too many countries, the war-to-peace transition continues to be fragile and reversible.
The challenges faced by post-conflict countries are more serious in several respects than those faced by poor but peaceful developing countries. They include severely weakened state capacity, destroyed physical, human and social capital, distorted economic incentives, widespread poverty and massive unemployment. Some also have to cope with criminal networks that plunder their resources, and former warlords who resist relinquishing power. These conditions place war-torn countries at continuing risk of relapsing into violent conflict.
The economic policy priorities for countries in post-conflict recovery should take these differences into account. They should include minimizing the risk of conflict recurrence and restoring confidence in social, political and economic institutions. Towards this end, according to the findings reviewed in the report, it is important to enhance the ability of the state to provide security for households and communities, including economic security, by enforcing the rule of law and delivering essential social services. At the same time, economic recovery priorities must focus on employment, encourage productive investment, mitigate business risks and reduce group inequalities.
These are significant challenges requiring assistance from the international community. This is why the United Nations (UN) system places such great emphasis on supporting different facets of conflict prevention and recovery and peacebuilding efforts in so many countries. Integral to this agenda is the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) work, together with UN and other development partners, on supporting countries in the aftermath of conflicts through activities such as helping to restore livelihoods, shelter and government capacities.
Building on UNDP’s work and experience in this area, this report argues that post-conflict recovery strategy and policy should be anchored in the local engines of economic recovery. Many institutions, modes of interaction and economic activities adapt to and survive conflict. This report provides ideas for how post-conflict countries can build on their existing capacities to assume primary responsibility for their own recovery.
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