The Role of Parliaments in Conflict

January 8, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Science, Health Science, Immunology
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The Role of Parliaments in Conflict-Resolution and Peacebuilding Mitchell O’Brien Governance Specialist Team Lead – Parliament Program World Bank Institute [email protected]

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The CPA-WBI Process Central message Trends in conflict Structural conditions conducive to conflict Conflict trap The complexity of conflict Parliaments as the Cornerstone Parliaments’ best conflict prevention tool – the national budget?

The CPA-WBI Knowledge Capture Process Knowledge Development Process:  Study Group on the Role of Parliaments in ConflictAffected Countries – Sri Lanka 2004  Conference on Parliaments and Conflict - Wilton Park 2005  Parliaments as Peacebuilders in Conflict-Affected Countries – 2008  West Africa Regional Conflict Prevention Research Project - 2010  Workshop on the Role of the Parliaments in ConflictAffected Countries – Vienna 2010  WDR 2011 on Conflict, Security and Development  2012 – Global Seminar on Parliaments and EI  2013 – Parliaments, PFM and Fragility?

Central Message  Strengthening legitimate institutions and governance to provide citizen security, justice, and jobs is crucial to break cycles of violence.  Restoring confidence and transforming security, justice, and economic institutions is possible within a generation, even in countries that have experienced severe conflict.  This requires determined national leadership and an international system “refitted” to address 21st-century risks: refocusing assistance on preventing criminal and political violence, reforming the procedures of international agencies, responding at a regional level, and renewing cooperative efforts among all countries  Parliaments are central to local, national, regional, and international efforts to curb conflict

Trends in Conflict • • •

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Transformation in the nature of conflict - Type and rate of conflict changing Traditional inter-state (Kashmir) and ethno-national conflicts (Sri Lanka) are becoming rarer – deaths from civil wars are still unacceptably high, but are onequarter of what they were in the 1980s (WDR) Nontraditional intrastate conflicts still continue to be waged with potential for spillover into neighboring countries (Afghanistan/ Pakistan) Recent trends show a diffusion and fragmentation of violence perpetuated by a number of actors (what constitutes the security sector?) targeting non combatants and citizens (West Africa/ Kenya/ Uganda) One in four people on the planet, more than 1.5 billion, live in fragile and conflict affected states or in countries with very high levels of criminal violence. Due to the successes in reducing interstate war, the remaining forms of conflict and violence do not fit neatly either into “war” or “peace,” or into “criminal violence” or “political violence” (WDR) Explosions of social grievances despite good economic indicators (Arab Spring) Many countries and sub-national areas now face cycles of repeated violence, weak governance, and instability. This makes it difficult for the international community to intervene and places greater emphasis on national institutions to act

Structural Conditions Conducive to Conflict • There is a correlative relationship between poverty and conflict • Nations with a high levels of dependence on commodity exports are at a higher risk of experiencing conflict • Meanwhile countries with higher levels of secondary schooling and economic growth have reduced rates of conflict • Low-income countries with a per-capita income of less than US$2,000 experienced conflict approximately one in every five years • Drops to one in every 33 years when per capita income is in excess of US$4,000 • New poverty data reveal that poverty is declining for much of the world, but countries affected by violence are lagging behind. For every three years a country is affected by major violence (battle deaths or excess deaths from homicides equivalent to a major war), poverty reduction lags behind by 2.7 percentage points (WDR) • No low-income fragile or conflict-affected country has yet achieved a single MDG

Conflict Trap • A country with these conditions is statistically more prone to conflict than a country without these structural conditions • The impact of conflict on an economy lingers well beyond the cessation of conflict, making a country more prone to a reversion to violent conflict – this is known as the conflict trap • Conflicts often are not one-off events, but are ongoing and repeated: 90 percent of the last decade’s civil wars occurred in countries that had already had a civil war in the last 30

Conflict is getting more complex •

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New forms of conflict and violence threaten development: many countries that have successfully negotiated political and peace agreements after violent political conflicts, such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and South Africa, now face high levels of violent crime, constraining their development. Different forms of violence are linked to each other. Political movements can obtain financing from criminal activities, as in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Northern Ireland Criminal gangs can support political violence during electoral periods, as in Jamaica and Kenya. International ideological movements make common cause with local grievances, as in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus, the large majority of countries currently facing violence face it in multiple forms. Grievances can escalate into acute demands for change—and the risks of violent conflict—in countries where political, social, or economic change lags behind expectations, as in the Middle East and North Africa.

Parliaments as the Cornerstone (1) • That risk of conflict and violence in any society (national or regional) is the combination of the exposure to internal and external stresses (including CC and EI) and the strength of the “immune system,” or the social capability for coping with stress embodied in legitimate institutions • But transforming institutions is particularly difficult in fragile situations. • In countries with a track record of violence and mistrust, expectations are either too low, so that no government promises are believed, making cooperative action impossible—or too high, so that transitional moments produce expectations of rapid change that cannot be delivered by existing institutions. • Many institutional changes that could produce greater longterm resilience against violence frequently carry short-term risks. Any important shift—holding elections, dismantling patronage networks, giving new roles to security services, decentralizing decision-making, empowering disadvantaged groups—creates both winners and losers.

Parliaments as the Cornerstone (2) • Persuading stakeholders to work collaboratively requires signals of a real break with the past—for example, ending the political or economic exclusion of marginalized groups, corruption, or human rights abuses—as well as mechanisms to “lock-in” these changes and show that they will not be reversed • Parliaments are the most representative democratic institutions • Parliaments can seek to prevent conflict by addressing the root causes of tension and addressing the structural conditions (poverty) that permit underlying tensions to escalate to violent conflict • Parliaments’ have many tools at their disposal; however, one of the most effective tool for coping with internal and external stresses is the national budget

Objectives of Budgeting • Public resources are always limited and inevitably fall short of meeting all the needs of society. • A well-functioning budget process helps to assess competing claims on the budget and facilitates difficult tradeoffs Assists in ameliorating tensions in society and address economic causes of conflict • Meeting this challenge successfully requires that budgeting achieves: – Affordable budget totals – Strategic prioritization of public funds – Sound operational management » Next step Global Seminar on Parliaments and Extractive Industries

Some principles of good budgeting • Comprehensiveness: The budget must cover all the fiscal operations of government. • Predictability: Spending agencies should have certainty about their allocations in the medium term to enable them to plan ahead. • Contestability: No item in the budget should have an automatic claim to funding. • Transparency: Accurate, timely, reliable and comprehensive information. • Periodicity: The budget should cover a fixed period of time, and follow a clear schedule.

Over to you… Does parliament in your country undertake activities aimed at preventing conflict? Does parliament in your country use the budget process as a mechanism to reduce conflict in the community? Are there additional aspects that you think are relevant and have worked in your parliament that you would like to comment on?

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