Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The New Deal and its Peace and State-building Goals (PSGs) applicable to Latin America?

This post, by Miriam Moeller with the International Dialogue Secretariat, is about the potentials and benefits of applying the New Deal to Latin American countries. The blog is in light of the current Wikiprogress América Latina online discussion on the New Deal and is a part of the Wikiprogress series on Governance.
Many of you may not have heard about the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States before now.

The New Deal is a key agreement between the 19 fragile states of the g7+ group, development partners of the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF) and Civil Society (represented through the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding - CSPPS). Its goal is to activate change in policy and practice in fragile and conflict-affected countries. This change is considered essential in order to strengthen trust between development partners, to put countries in the lead of their transitions and to achieve better development results. The New Deal establishes five Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) which help to enable progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to guide national and international efforts and resources. These goals include:
  1. Inclusive politics: Foster inclusive political settlements and conflict resolution.
  2. Security: Establish and strengthen people’s security.
  3. Justice: Address injustices and increase people’s access to justice.
  4. Economic Foundations: Generate employment and improve livelihoods.
  5. Revenues & Services: Manage revenue and build capacity for accountable and fair service delivery.
The New Deal sets out new terms of engagement to support transitions from conflict and fragility to peace and stabilisation that is lead and owned by countries. It further outlines a series of commitments to achieve better results through strong partnerships and mutual trust.

But how can it be applied to the Latin American context? Does it have any relevance there?

To answers those questions, it is useful to take a quick look at the progress and challenges that Latin America is facing today. The Latin American region as a whole has shown very high economic growths rates over the last few years. Since 2011, more Latin Americans are part of the middle class than those living in poverty. Employment has increased, and average real incomes have risen by more than 25% since the new Millennium (World Bank 2013).

Nevertheless, growth and development has not reached all countries nor all citizens in the same way. Standards of living still differ widely between and within countries, presenting a challenge for the region. Poverty rates remain high, with around 80 million people still living in extreme poverty (World Bank 2013). One of the biggest challenges facing Latin America today remains tackling inequality.

Another great challenge that concerns Latin America is insecurity. According to the Economist “[…] insecurity has become perhaps the single most pressing problem facing the region”. Urban violence, high crime rates, and illicit trafficking make up part of the picture. As the Human Development Report for Latin America 2013-2014 shows, the region registers more than 100,000 homicides per year. The report also demonstrates that there is a connection between violent crime and low education. For example, in all assessed countries, more than 80% of inmates did not complete 12 years of schooling. 

Another pressing concern, extremely relevant to the social contract between state and citizens, is the high perception of corruption in Latin American societies, according to the Corruption Perception Index 2013 (see below). This lack of trust in state institutions can be a driver of political unrest (as recently seen in Venezuela). 

So how can the New Deal and the PSGs help middle income countries in Latin America to tackle those challenges?

As already mentioned, the New Deal provides a framework to activate change and to set development priorities.

In the development co-operation between Latin American countries and their development partners, documents defining development strategies might already exist. The New Deal can bring positive change to those working relationships and will put countries in the lead role to bring forward that change. Through the assessment of drivers and causes of fragility, countries can set priorities for addressing the most pressing concerns as well as their underlying causes and can integrate these into existing documents. The PSGs underline those priorities and help to measure their progress over time.

The five PSGs can all be relevant to tackle the challenges that remain for Latin American countries. For example, a Fragility Assessment can identify what is driving urban violence in a particular context. An outcome of this analysis might be that unemployment, access to social mobility and a lack of education within parts of the society can provoke violent behaviour. So as a result, education must be made available to all parts of the population – it must be inclusive. Service delivery in form of ensuring better quality of educational systems and strengthening economic foundations to tackle unemployment are useful activities as well. Those activities can then be marked as priorities in both national and developmental policies and then their progress can be measured through the PSGs. The same can be applied to identifying drivers of social unrest, addressing corruption, etc..

On the other hand, the New Deal can be a relevant framework for emerging donors such as Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela. Since many of these countries engage in fragile states (e.g. Brazil in East Timor, Haiti, and Guinea-Bissau), or countries with pockets of fragility (e.g. Mexico in El Salvador and Guatemala), the New Deal can provide a framework to work differently with these donor countries by using the PSGs to set priorities on central developmental issues and by giving Latin American donor countries the leading role in developmental planning. The principles of the New Deal can also help to strengthen trust between these emerging donors and their partners through transparency, predictability of aid and mutual accountability.



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