UNDP-EU in support of fragile states

Apr 8, 2013

Jordan Ryan, UNDP Director for Crisis Prevention and Recovery. Photo: UNDP Brussels

“UNDP and the EU have a very special partnership. It works together in up to a hundred countries. Unfortunately, nearly half of those countries are fragile states”, says Jordan Ryan, who is the Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

To help fragile countries and communities recover after a conflict or natural disaster, the UNDP-EU partnership spans from immediate crisis recovery to more long-term development. In the last 10 years, the EU has supported a wide range of UNDP programmes addressing many different aspects of crisis prevention and recovery. As an example, Jordan Ryan mentions the collaboration that takes place at country level: “First, it is important that we understand what is needed to do in fragile states. So, there is a lot of conflict analysis that can be shared. There are opportunities for the EU and UNDP to focus together on finding out what are the best things that need to be done to make sure that a country that is coming out of a crisis does not go back into the crisis”, says Jordan Ryan.

When asked to cite an example of a successful project where UNDP and EU worked together, Jordan Ryan mentions Haiti, and the work that was done there following the devastating earthquake in 2010: “Haiti. What a tragedy! We lost so many of our UN colleagues there, the country was devastated, and so many Haitians were killed. One thing that was very necessary was to remove the rubble. It was a way of generating employment and clearing the areas so that new buildings could be put in place. And the EU and UNDP worked together on that project at the ground level to ensure that the programmatic initiative worked – and worked well.”

On the global level, the EU-UNDP collaboration in crisis prevention and recovery has expanded to include a solid institutional and policy dialogue and a lively exchange of best practices – including the development of joint methodological guidance and training programmes for UN and EU institutions and partners. This is supported through a number of thematic global collaborations that complement the work done at national level, such as strengthening capacities for sustainable management of land and natural resources; working towards an integrated approach to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR); and developing domestic capacities and institutions for mediation and dialogue.  Many of these global programmes are funded by the EU through its Instrument for Stability (IfS), which shows great synergies with UNDP’s work in the area of crisis prevention and recovery.

“We have been very pleased with the EU’s engagement both at the policy and programmatic level and at the focus of ensuring that fragility – and the response to fragility – is foremost in our developmental approach,” Jordan Ryan says.

Often, there are multiple international actors on the scene in crisis-affected countries. Coordinated action is therefore important, as is ensuring that emphasis is kept on multilateralism and policy coherence. According to Jordan Ryan, UNDP and EU cooperate to promote this approach in many ways. "We start by working together in the International Network for Conflict and Fragility (INCAF), where the EU is a member. At policy level, there are opportunities for UNDP and the EU to think about what are the best things to do together. We have jointly worked in support of the ‘New Deal’ and are looking for ways of rolling out support for the ‘New Deal’ in a number of crisis affected countries,” he says.

The “New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States” is an outcome of the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness that took place in Busan in 2011. The New Deal recognizes that transitioning out of fragility is long-term, political work that requires country leadership and ownership to reconcile varying agendas and strengthen physical security that is often lacking.

An important part of the work that UNDP and the EU do in fragile states is therefore supporting the mobilization and empowerment of national partners to lead the recovery process and rebuild the state-society linkages required for sustainable peace. To help increasing citizens’ trust of the state, UNDP and the EU help government institutions to become more transparent, accountable, responsive to their citizens, and respectful of human rights.

From this extensive work, UNDP and EU can draw many lessons and best practices that can feed into the work done on the ground: “We are committed to share best examples. The UN in many ways has advanced the integrated approach in conflict and crisis affected countries. The EU is developing mechanisms that are bringing together its membership. And we think that mutually we can learn quite a lot from each other. But the important thing is what we do on the ground – how can we work on a more coordinated, effective manner. And in country after country, we have the opportunity to do that, of having Heads of Delegations with our Resident Coordinators really commit to work together and to use the combined resources or our institutions to make change on the ground and to help the people who are most in need,” says Jordan Ryan