There are many reasons why countries or regions become fragile: civil war, pandemics, internal conflicts or political change. But each scenario affects broad swathes of the population and existing structures. As a result, it takes major efforts to restore lasting peace.
"Fragility is a key obstacle to development,” said Mr Burkhalter at the 5th Global Meeting of the IDPS, "and it also undermines security and human rights". Instability and violence not only pose a threat to the affected states and their populations, they also increase the threat of terrorism and ramp up the pressure to migrate. "So it is also in our interest to find answers to these challenges together," Mr Burkhalter emphasised.
Continuation of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States
For this reason, Switzerland supports the continuation of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, as agreed by the members of the IDPS meeting today. The IDPS declaration stresses that statebuilding and the peacebuilding are prerequisites for sustainable development. So instead of opting for short-term, technical and project-based solutions, the emphasis should be on adopting long-term measures that also focus on the political causes of conflicts.
The New Deal is a multilateral guideline agreement that is key to ensuring that international cooperation in fragile situations and conflicts is sensitive to the risks of conflict and geared towards achieving long-term results. The New Deal arose within the OECD and has been signed by over 40 countries (including some so-called fragile states), the EU, the World Bank and the United Nations. Switzerland, too, signed the New Deal in 2011 and thereby undertook to collaborate closely with the other bilateral and multilateral donors in fragile contexts. The IDPS is the body responsible for the New Deal, which has now completed a five-year pilot phase. Today's declaration reaffirmed the continuation of the New Deal and its principles.
Fighting poverty and preventing the temptations of extremism
Long-term commitment to preventing fragility and violent conflict is a clear priority of Swiss foreign policy. Today, almost half the partner countries of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) qualify as 'fragile' states. The Federal Council's Dispatch on International Cooperation provides for up to 50% of the international cooperation budget for bilateral programmes being spent on measures designed to improve and stabilise the situation in fragile contexts. In the negotiations on the 2030 Agenda, Switzerland also forcefully – and successfully – lobbied for the inclusion of "peaceful and inclusive societies" as an independent goal in the agenda.
Switzerland is going to expand its aid programmes in countries with fragile contexts. The fight against poverty and commitment to improved living conditions and future prospects also help to prevent the temptations of violent extremism to which young people with no future in fragile contexts are particularly susceptible. This latter aspect will be the focus of the Geneva Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism organised on 7-8 April 2016 by the United Nations and Switzerland.
The IDPS (International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding), which is hosting today's conference in Stockholm, is an important international forum for political dialogue, bringing together OECD donor countries, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with around 20 fragile states and civil society. The OECD donor countries, the World Bank and the UNDP together make up the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF), which is currently co-run by Switzerland and the UNDP.
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