Fragile states – poverty, instability and violence

Although there is no standard definition of state fragility, countries in which the state institutions are weak or lack stability and whose populations suffer from extreme poverty, violence, corruption and political arbitrariness, are internationally designated as fragile states. The governments of fragile states are either unwilling or unable to perform basic governance functions in the areas of security, rule of law and basic social services. Furthermore there is no mutually constructive relationship between the government and society and no effort to cooperate in the definition of political and socio-economic development objectives.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines fragile states as follows: “A state is fragile when it is unable or unwilling to perform the functions necessary for poverty reduction, the promotion of development, protection of the population and the observance of human rights“. In other words the state is unable to perform basic functions in the areas of security, rule of law and basic social services.

Furthermore the governments of these countries are unable to develop constructive and interactive relations with the population and society. The following questions are also essential to state-building in fragile countries: what does the population expect of the government? Is the population able to articulate its desires and expectations, and if so, is it duly heard?

Obstacles to poverty reduction

State fragility is one of the main obstacles to effective, sustainable efforts to combat poverty. Only very few of the more than 40 fragile states in the world are expected to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the target date of 2015. Around 1.5 billion people live in fragile countries and regions. They are among the world’s poorest – and often they suffer doubly: from poverty and from the impact of violent conflicts.

Financial support provided to fragile states has doubled in the past 10 years. Donor countries have recognised that fragility or the effects of violent conflict contribute greatly to poverty and insecurity in the country concerned. Switzerland is also increasingly engaged in fragile countries and regions and has made this involvement part of its international cooperation strategy for 2013–2016.

Poverty, violence, fragility – a vicious circle

According to the “World Development Report 2011” of the World Bank, fragile states are twice as likely to be affected by malnutrition and infant mortality as other developing countries. Moreover it is three times more likely that children in these countries will be unable to attend school and twice as likely that the population will have no access to clean drinking water.

Fragility, poverty and violence thus form a vicious circle: when state structures are weak and it is no longer possible to guarantee basic social, economic and legal services or security, conflicts often escalate. However, this vicious circle can be broken through the development of legitimate institutions and an active civil society.

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 47

State reform in Somalia

Sitting at his desk, a Hargeisa municipal employee enters paid bill details into a computer system.

01.08.2013 - 31.12.2017

The SDC is supporting a decentralisation project in Somalia. The aim is to promote peace and development by strengthening the capacity of local authorities to meet the needs of the population. The project has already produced some encouraging results.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Somalia
Conflict prevention and transformation
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
Public financial management (including activities against corruption)
Civilian peace-building and conflict resolution
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Public finance management
Civilian peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution

01.08.2013 - 31.12.2017


CHF 9'000'000



Inclusive territorial economic development in the Muskitia region

01.04.2021 - 31.12.2028

The Muskitia indigenous region requires strategic changes that favour inclusive economic development and reduce violent conflict over land use and maritime resources. For this reason the program strengthens territorial governance, improves the business climate and increases access to services. This includes supporting 8 of the 12 territorial councils in stimulating productive sector value chains such as cocoa, fish, and basic grains that generate employment and income for 10,000 families and consolidate indigenous businesses.


Strengthening of civil-political-economic rights and social auditing.

01.05.2020 - 30.06.2027

Strengthening civil-political-economic rights, freedom of expression and social auditing is a priority to ensure the functioning of the rule of law and respect for human rights in Honduras. The role of civil society is essential in the construction of citizenship and to ensure a system of check and balance. Therefore, the program will support 6 to 8 national civil society organization with strong anchoring in the territories to promote jointly in a concerted, impartial and evidence based way these topics.


Support to Local Governance Programme (LoGo)

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2019

The programme will reduce the potential for conflict in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) by improving the relationship and trust between the people and the State; as part of the ongoing decentralization reform, the programme will strengthen the basis for accountable and participatory local government processes leading to more efficiency of local governments and public services responding to all citizens’ needs, including those of the most vulnerable.


Trans-Border Dialogue for Peace in the Great Lakes Region

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

Jointly with the Swedish Embassy, Switzerland supports a trans-border dialogue for peace in the Great Lakes region, a program run by Interpeace with 6 local NGOs. This second phase will continue using research and dialogue to address stereotypes and lack of trust behind recurrent conflicts in the Great Lakes region. Research and dialogue constitute the basis to engage decision makers, to promote good governance and concrete consensus-based solutions taking into account local populations’ concerns and recommendations.


Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Resource Center (IHLRC) “Closing the Compliance Gap”

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2019

The Swiss contribution supports Diakonia’s International Humanitarian Law Resource Centre (IHLRC) to respond to the demand for accurate and principled legal analysis on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law in the oPt, and to make it accessible to States and relevant organizations to ensure that their policies and international aid are not in contradiction with international law. This intervention is in line with the Swiss Foreign Policy in the Region and SDC Cooperation Strategy 2015-2018 that aims to promote respect for International Law, to ensure protection by all duty-bearers of the rights of the Palestinian population.


Contribution to UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women

01.12.2016 - 30.11.2021

Switzerland is renewing its contribution to the system-wide United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UNTF). As the only global multilateral grant-making mechanism exclusively devoted to supporting local and national efforts to ending violence against women and girls (EVAW/G), including in fragile and conflict contexts, the UNTF has the advantage to possess a global overview of the legal provisions and practices, methods of prevention and types of support services needed. Dissemination of good practice will be strengthened to inform policy and programming.


Palestinian Population, Housing, and Establishment Census 2017

01.12.2016 - 31.12.2018

SDC will support the realisation of the third Palestinian Population, Housing, and Establishment Census in 2017 through a targeted contribution to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). This project is co-financed by the Palestinian Authority and by a range of donors which acknowledge thereby the need to conduct a national census on a regular basis (every ten years) to produce reliable development data and statistics that support the design and implementation of effective policies conducive to reaching the goals of Agenda 2030 (Sustainable Development Goals). Such data are even more important in fragile contexts, such as the oPt.


Access to Justice in Tajikistan

01.12.2016 - 30.11.2020

Through this project, Switzerland will accompany the Government in realizing a state system providing free legal aid, which will allow the vulnerable (poor) individuals in Tajikistan to better protect their rights and in particular to claim various benefits (e.g. pensions, child allowances). This system will replace the current NGO provided legal aid services. A space for dialogue between civil society and state authorities will also be preserved and will contribute to addressing further legal challenges faced by the population.


Prevention of Domestic Violence in Tajikistan

01.10.2016 - 30.09.2019

Domestic violence is widespread in Tajik society (70% of women experience domestic violence in their life). Despite the adoption of the law on domestic violence in 2013, the Government lacks coordinated mechanisms for its implementation. In the exit phase the project will shift from NGO based service provision towards supporting the state coordination mechanisms, the establishment of an effective public referral system providing services to the victims, and public awareness activities with a focus on contributing to behavioural changes.


United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine

01.09.2016 - 31.12.2018

The conflict in the eastern part of the country has aggravated the human rights situation in Ukraine which requires a comprehensive international monitoring and engagement with relevant actors. The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission is well placed to help identifying human rights gaps and concerns in Ukraine, and to formulate specific recommendations for shaping policies and assistance programs.


Renforcement d’IDEA phase Unique (RIDEAU)

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2018

Le programme d’IDEA en Haïti vise le renforcement des institutions (p. ex. Parlement) et des acteurs politiques (p. ex. partis), piliers institutionnels de  l’état de droit. Ce faisant IDEA contribue à bâtir une gouvernance nationale respectueuse de la participation citoyenne et paritaire entre les femmes et les hommes. La DDC apporte une contribution générale à IDEA avec un suivi particulier sur la participation politiques des femmes et sur les pratiques de reddition des comptes. 

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