Fragility and Conflict Key Themes of Spring Meetings

April 6, 2011

  • Bank President Zoellick speaks on recent instability in the Middle East.
  • 2011 World Development Report focuses on conflict, security and development.
  • Public invited to take part in online conversation on conflict and fragility during a special webcast April 14.

April 6, 2011 – The problem of fragile states and conflict-affected countries is a key theme of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings on April 15-17, as the World Bank Group looks for ways to improve assistance to countries under stress and to accelerate progress on major development goals.

Several events will address conflict and fragility over the next two weeks:

  • World Bank President Robert Zoellick’s April 6 speech, “A New Social Contract for Development,” on recent instability in the Middle East and North Africa and lessons for development
  • Report by the Bank’s Latin America and Caribbean region on crime and violence in Central America, released April 7
  • April 11 release of the 2011 World Development Report (WDR), which focuses on conflict, security and development
  • Webcast on World Bank Live: WDR-related event April 14 on political transitions, citizen security, justice and jobs
  • April 15 event on private sector growth and job creation in fragile environments
  • April 15 release of the Global Monitoring Report measuring progress toward the Millennium Development Goals—targets world leaders set in 2000 on poverty, education, health and other indicators
  • Development Committee informal discussion April 16 on the messages and implications of the 2011 WDR

The issue has been at the forefront of news coverage over the past few months as unrest has roiled the Middle East and North Africa. In March, the World Bank hosted an event, Arab Voices and Views, which focused on social change, jobs and new media. The event, featuring experts from outside the World Bank, was attended by youth and women's groups, think tanks, universities, journalism and public policy groups.

Assistance to fragile and conflict-affected countries is at the core of the World Bank Group’s mission to reduce poverty and promote socioeconomic growth. But the problem is a difficult one to solve. About 40% of countries that emerge from conflict relapse within 10 years.

And not one low-income fragile or conflict-affected state has yet achieved a single Millennium Development Goal. By 2015, only 10% of fragile states, as currently defined, are expected to halve poverty and hunger.

To accelerate progress, the International Development Association of the World Bank Group increased financial assistance to fragile and conflict-affected countries from $772 million in 2000 to $2.6 billion in 2010.

In addition, the Bank contributes $33 million annually to the multi-donor State and Peace-Building Fund. It also administers the fund, which supports 40% of affected countries.

Countries See Results

After 20 years of systematic engagement in fragile and conflict-affected states, the Bank has contributed to successful recovery in several countries, such as Vietnam, Ethiopia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Results around the world have included reintegrating 235,300 ex-combatants into society, building 1,190 kilometers of road to increase access to hospitals, markets, schools and work, and creating more than 17 million person days of employment in Afghanistan, Burundi, Republic of Congo and Gambia.

But more will need to be done to help countries break the conflict trap, cement peace, and improve governance and growth.

The World Bank invites the public to take part in an online conversation on conflict and fragility during a special webcast April 14 on the 2011 World Development Report. Share your views and ask panelists questions via WDR 2011 Twitter feed using #WDR2011.

The webcast features two panels that will examine the transition experience of South Africa and other countries in the context of current events in the Middle East and North Africa, and discuss ways to promote citizen security, justice and jobs. The event will include remarks by Bank President Zoellick and WDR Co-Directors Sarah Cliffe and Nigel Roberts.