The New Deal for Fragile States: How to Measure Progress

by Iveta Cherneva

On 30 November 2011 at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, fragile states, donor states, and international organizations endorsed the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. The New Deal moved development aid in a country-led and country-owned framework for fragile states. It outlined five Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (legitimate politics, security, justice, economic foundations, revenues and services) in seven pilot-project fragile states (Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste) through the New Deal’s FOCUS and TRUST approach.

The New Deal is a departure from the traditional donor-centered approach, whereby development policies were crafted in North American and European capitals and headquarters, away from the real issues and people on the ground. It remains to be seen whether the country-led framework pilot with donor missions based in the field will yield better results. The New Deal for Fragile States on development aid effectiveness will be judged a success if the seven pilot-states register progress on both framework-specific and framework-external milestones. To measure success, four New Deal milestones are suggested here.

1. The Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) and the “fragility continuum” assessment

In 2015, the seven pilot-project states should be assessed for progress on the PSGs and the fragility continuum, which waslaunched in November 2013 by the g7+ Secretariat. Gains made on the numerical fragility continuum could be credited to the New Deal. Along with the numerical indicators, measuring progress on the five goals could be done through citizen surveys, civil society assessments, international organization-led assessments, independent valuation, or through a hybrid model combining multi-stakeholder assessments. The New Deal presents a “country-led” approach, but fragile states have been generally opposed to introducing citizen evaluations to track progress. However, citizen assessment in a survey carried out by an international independent valuator would allow the international community to check whether people on the ground—the actual aid recipients—have experienced an improvement on the five PSGs as a result of the New Deal approach. While for some PSGs, government-presented numerical indicators would be useful, for others—such as legitimate politics and government services—the opinion of citizens would be crucial for tracking progress. Similarly, to measure justice, a citizen survey may also be appropriate, in addition to an external independent assessment by an international NGO to track country progress or a country assessment by an international organization (i.e. assessment on the right to fair trial by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights).

2. “At least one MDG” acceleration effect in 2015

The impact of the New Deal for aid effectiveness in fragile states should also be looked at in the larger UN development framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To date, no fragile state has achieved a single MDG. Some of the seven pilot states of the New Deal (AfghanistanSierra LeoneTimor-Leste) are “on track to achieving” some of the MDGs, according to the MDG Monitor of UNDP. For these countries, New Deal success measured in 2015 would mean accelerating progress towards actually reaching at least one of the MDGs. The rest of the pilot-project states (the Central African Republic,DRCLiberia and South Sudan) are generally not on track to reaching a single MDG, while on some MDGs there is a “possibility to achieve the goal if some changes are made,” according to the MDG Monitor. Worse still, the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan are plunging into a state of conflict, which is going to reverse development progress. For this latter group of countries, excluding CAR and South Sudan, New Deal success would mean that MDGs previously defined as “possible to achieve if some changes are made” become “on track” in 2015.

3. The “LDC graduation” triennial review in 2015 and 2018

All seven New Deal pilot-project states are also UN Least Developed Countries (LDCs), marked by the most extreme poverty. The Committee for Development Policy (CDP), a subsidiary organ of the UN Economic and Social Council, is mandated to review LDCs every three years, based on a mix of economic and social indicators. The next triennial review in 2015 will coincide with the New Deal pilot end-period and the expiration of the MDGs. A link between the LDC graduation and the New Deal pilot could and should be made. At the 2012 triennial review, none of the seven pilot New Deal states were discussed or prepared for graduation by CDP. It would mark important progress if in 2015 or 2018, the CDP discussion moves to consider for graduation some of the seven pilot countries. Only three countries have ever left the LDC category. Some of that potential success could be attributed to the New Deal if any of the pilot countries register a jump in 2015 or 2018. If such an event occurs, there would be an argument to make that the New Deal approach had an effect on lifting some of the seven fragile LDCs out of the most extreme poverty group.

4. Integrating the New Deal in the post-2015 development framework

With the expiration of the MDGs in 2015, the time to set the new development agenda is nearing. It is important to include thinking specifically tailored to fragile states in the new development goals. Often, not considering the specific contexts and specificities of post-conflict or fragile states leads to misguided financing that could do more harm than good by enabling actors and processes harmful to good development practices. It is important to put the five PSGs at the forefront of development aid in fragile states. While non-fragile countries face different problems and might be able to absorb development aid, pouring financial resources into fragile states simply does not lead to the desired results, particularly if the approach is not tailored to prioritize building institutions that can absorb and channel the resources. The New Deal pilot progress could show whether efforts channeled in that direction have put the countries on the right track in terms of governance and institution building, and also provide necessary guidance and lessons learned from the pilots that could be scaled-up. Fragile states have special needs in the development community, and the large development framework should acknowledge that by making the New Deal for Fragile States and the PSGs a part of the large UN project that will supersede the MDGs.

In the end, the New Deal for Fragile States will be judged according to its framework’s Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals and the fragility continuum on improving governance and institutions, but its impact should stretch further in influencing and improving the overall standing of its seven pilot fragile states. Undoubtedly, the Central African Republic and South Sudan will register delays in development progress contingent upon their security and human rights situations, which are currently causing great concern to the international community. For the rest of the pilot countries, New Deal impact would imply progress registered on the MDGs in 2015, and to some extent, in the LDC graduation discussions in 2015. Finally, making the New Deal and the PSGs a part of the post-2015 development goals would also mean recognition for the tailored thinking underpinning the Busan commitments.

About the Author

Iveta Cherneva is an author and commentator on global governance and international organizations, security, human rights, and sustainability. Her career includes work for the UN, U.S. Congress, Oxford University, and think tanks in several of the world's diplomatic capitals. Iveta is the author of Trafficking for Begging (2011); The UN Security Council, the ICJ, and Judicial Review (2013); editor of The Business Case for Sustainable Finance (2012); and co-author of Regulating the Global Security Industry (2009). Appointed Atlantic Council young leader in 2012 and William H. Donner Human Rights Fellow in 2007, she is a frequent commentator in international news media. Iveta has testified before the UN Working Group on business and human rights.

Drone Warfare and the Constitution

Regional Perspectives on the U.S.-Afghan Security Pact