Investments in peace and security


Our new report looks at the mix of resources to countries experiencing conflict and fragility, with an explicit focus on flows that seek to respond to these issues.

Promoting peace and security is an essential foundation for sustainable development in fragile and conflict-affected countries. The imperative to address fragility, conflict and insecurity has become a central focus of global development processes. This has culminated in the inclusion of Global Goal 16 on ‘inclusive and peaceful societies’ in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the mandate to look beyond aid to include much broader sources of finance. It is important to therefore understand the current financing landscape for peace and security and identify gaps in targeting in response to the needs of vulnerable and conflict-affected people.

This report provides an overview of the mix of resource flows to countries experiencing conflict and fragility, with an explicit focus on the flows that seek to address and respond to these issues. It should be noted, however, that while investments beyond aid are particularly important given their sheer scale, the availability and accessibility of data on international peace and security resource flows to fragile and conflict-affected countries beyond aid is weak.

This report gives particular consideration to aid – also known as official development assistance (ODA). While small in volume compared with peace and security resource flows outside aid, it has an important role to play in fragile and conflict-affected contexts where domestic response capacities are weak, risks for private sector investment are high, and opportunities for mobilising wider sources of finance beyond aid are low. It is also often an important resource for supporting the transition from conflict to peace, alongside peacekeeping efforts. In addition, data is more easily accessible for ODA on conflict prevention and resolution, peace and security (CPS) than for peace and security resource flows outside of aid.

Key findings emerging from the report include:

  1. Aggregate global military expenditure (US$1.7 trillion) is much greater than investments in peacekeeping (US$9.7 billion) and CPS ODA (US$3.2 billion) but our understanding of its role in developing countries is limited by poor data. Given the sheer scale of investments on peace and security beyond aid, it is important to understand the potential for such resources to address the needs of vulnerable and conflict-affected people in line with the delivery of the 2030 Agenda. However, data on military and security spending beyond aid is limited and it is not possible to provide a breakdown of international military and security resource flows to different developing countries. Better information on such resource flows is crucial. As the mandates of many peace and security actors are centred on defence and national security as opposed to development, it is particularly important to understand the share and aspects of such resources that may have the potential to address these needs. The inclusion of a wider set of peace and security activities as ODA, as set out in the communiqué from the recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) High-Level Meeting (February 2016) (such as activities to address violence extremism and strengthen civilian oversight of militaries), further emphasises the need for better data on these resource flows to ensure that the allocation of all ODA is transparent and accountable. Read our analysis of changes to aid rules regarding spending on peace and security.
  1. While growth in CPS ODA has outpaced the growth of all aid over the last decade, CPS ODA continues to comprise a very small proportion of total ODA (1.9% in 2014). This raises questions about the need to strengthen such funding in line with the priority given to addressing peace and security in global development commitments, most notably the 2030 Agenda. This does not imply, however, that ODA should be reallocated to CPS from other sectors − it is important that all Global Goal targets are met. To achieve this with finite resources, it is critical that multiple sources of funding beyond aid are mobilised to deliver on all Global Goals. While aid plays a vital role in fragile and conflict-affected countries (where opportunities for domestic and private investments are lower than in other developing countries), it is just one of many resources that flow in. Other important resources include remittances as the largest flow (34% of all international resource flows to the 20 countries with the highest fragility scores in the 2014 Fund for Peace Fragile States Index) and foreign direct investment, among others.
  1. Certain countries experiencing long-term fragility and conflict are prioritised for CPS ODA funding, while others are neglected. Countries with higher fragility scores on the Fund for Peace Fragile States Index tend to receive larger volumes of CPS ODA. Examples include Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Lebanon. In contrast, other countries such as Chad and the Central African Republic have higher fragility scores than Afghanistan (the largest recipient country of CPS ODA), yet both received smaller volumes of funding. The reasons for this are unclear and likely to reflect individual donor preferences. To leave no-one behind and ensure that the needs of vulnerable and conflict-affected people are met, donors’ ODA-spending decisions must be based primarily on people’s needs and risks.
  1. To ensure that available resources on peace and security are targeted effectively, better data on the needs of vulnerable and conflict-affected people at national and sub-national levels is vital. Greater investment in disaggregated and sub-national data is critical, including through efforts to strengthen domestic statistical capacity. However, recognising the real challenges involved in collecting and analysing data in complex conflict contexts, a differentiated approach should be taken in fragile and conflict-affected countries, appropriate to the specific stage of conflict and challenges experienced. To achieve this we need better evidence on what data collection methods work in these different contexts.
  1. A thorough review is needed to better understand the current alignment between existing financial reporting systems and the targets for Global Goal 16. This should identify opportunities for building on existing mechanisms and areas where alignment could be strengthened. Further consideration should be given to the ways in which the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) could be used to strengthen the granularity of reporting in line with the delivery of Global Goal 16.

Photo credit: Photo by Hamid Abdulsalam, UNAMID