#05 Securing Peace
Jan Pospisil

Development and Security

The story of a tightrope walk between peacebuilding, counter-terrorism and state-building

"There will be no development without security and no security without development"[1], wrote former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his report "In Larger Freedom" from 2005. In so doing he summed up in one sentence what has crystallised into one of the central topics of development policy for more than a decade since the end of the Cold War.

"No development without security" - this slogan that has since matured into the guiding principle of more than just development and security policy actors in the narrower sense. It has also been the inspiration for the design and implementation of so-called collective state approaches in international policy. In September 2010, German Chancellor Angela Merkel even presented her declaration to the UN General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals under this motto and emphasised that "this reciprocal dependency [between development and security applied] globally."

The linking of development and security - is it an unavoidable necessity? A success story? The following article will attempt to discuss these questions against the backdrop of a short historical outline of the development-security nexus that has been sustainably established in the meantime.

The prehistory and early history of "development and security"

In view of the discussion surrounding the development-security nexus, which still seems relatively new, we must bear in mind that security policy aspects have always been a consideration when applying development policy. The USA, for example, allowed a carefully formulated, strong coherence with security policy to shine through in its very first explicit development policy programme - the Marshall Plan. European donors also initially conceived of development policy as a vehicle for transforming their relationships to their colonies on an economic and political level in the time period following their independence. Here above all, defence against the perceived communist threat, with its wide implications for security policy, constituted a substantial motivation for development policy activities.[2] The logic of the Cold War remained a central orienting principle for the design of development-specific policy fields until well into the 1980s.

Nonetheless the steps taken during these decades - from policy design through to concrete development cooperation -- are not comparable to the concepts and catalogue of countermeasures that became the focus when the security debate conducted in the narrower sense entered the development policy area. General "defence against communism" was no longer the immediate threat scenario that occupied development policy actors. It was replaced by a discussion of armed conflict in partner countries in particular which, packaged as an acknowledged political duty, also became the logical foregone conclusion.

This new definition of development policy issues, challenges and goals required preconditions on a political, conceptual and thematic level. Firstly, on a political level, the end of the Cold War allowed a heretofore unimagined dimension of global action in the security policy arena which continued to be shaped by political sensibilities, but was no longer limited by Soviet Block confrontation. The rapidly rising number of peacekeeping operations since the 1990s is impressive proof of this sea change.[3][4]

Secondly, the concept of sustainability that began to dominate the development policy debate in the mid-1980s, and was even declared the "international guiding principle of the 21st century" by the United Nations in 1992, demanded a change in the principle approach to development policy. The long-sought goal of "catch-up development", the idea of adjusting living standards primarily through development steps focused on macroeconomic processes, was more or less shelved for good. This opened a new outlook on the respective context that moved beyond statistics like GDP, level of industrialisation or poverty rate numbers, resulting in an awareness of local and regional conflicts in particular, but also upon closer examination of existing socio-political order structures.

This turn created the conditions for a thematic focus on the area of "governance" evidenced by the establishment of the term "good governance". From its origin as a casual aside in a preface to the World Bank's West Africa Report in 1989, "good governance" has had an admirable career. Initially primarily used in the fight against technocratic development obstacles like corruption or deficiencies in institutional capacities, the term was politicised through a link to topics such as democratisation and human rights and increasingly implemented in the framework of conditionalities such as the shaping of concrete development policy measures. Its importance has increased in dealing with violent conflict in the periphery, which, in the context of this discussion, was no longer just a security problem and was also discussed as a development policy challenge and responsibility. This is why "good governance" plays a key role in the evolution of the development-security nexus.

Thus far this evolution of the development-security nexus has occurred in three phases that, generally linked to spectacular results from a security policy standpoint, focus on different respective contextual core areas.

Phase 1: Peacebuilding and conflict prevention

Two shocks in particular left a deep and lasting impression and served as key experiences for security and development policy, thus in a way catalysing their interconnection: Somalia - here the downing of a US helicopter in Mogadishu followed by the desecration of the bodies of dead US soldiers, a foretaste of the bloody failure of a peacekeeping mission eventually even depicted by Hollywood - and the genocide in Rwanda. Both drew the attention of US-American and European international politics to the fact that not only had local and regional problems not been sufficiently considered, they had actually been made worse by the steps taken toward intervention.[5] The war in Yugoslavia taking place at the same time played its part in lifting peacekeeping onto the international agenda.

Forerunners like the Netherlands and Great Britain paved the way, and the expectation that ending war and building peace should become the "new tasks of development policy" was soon established.[6] At the behest of Scandinavian countries in particular and the Netherlands as well, the Guidelines of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) from the OECD, the central counsel of the bilateral development policy actors, were written up under the title "Helping Prevent Violent Conflict"[7]. These guidelines for peacekeeping and conflict prevention are still valid today since their adoption in 1997 (with one revision in 2001).

Starting with a critique of the more or less conflict-blind approach of development policy, referred to as "working around conflict", these guidelines call for a conscious and active approach to existing armed conflicts in partner countries. On the one hand, this involves the so-called "conflict lens" absolutely essential for drawing conscious attention to the working context of development cooperation in the environment of a violent conflict - "working in conflict". Primarily it is about anchoring standards of behaviour and codes, such as the basic "do no harm"[8] principle, and the question of how to shape the relationship between development policy and military actors in the same operational area.

In a specific sense, the formation of the development-security nexus concentrated on the question of "working in conflict" within the framework of the Guidelines. The goal was to directly contribute to preventing, transforming or processing armed conflicts using development policy means and with as coherent an approach as possible with actors from other policy fields.

These clear guidelines provided by the OECD were quickly adopted for the actions of bi- and multilateral actors. Special budget lines and working groups were formed, such as the German development agency GTZ's "Sector-Plan Crisis Prevention and Conflict Processing". The distinctive peace policy focus of these efforts in Germany in particular came to the fore in the formation of the "Civil Peace Service" at the end of the 1990s.

Phase 2: Anti-terrorism and global structural policy

These changes in development cooperation in the narrower sense soon led to larger security policy goals that were to be explicitly integrated into development policy. Changes in government in Great Britain (1997) and Germany (1998) gave these efforts a considerable push. The administrations of these two countries, now dominated by Social Democrats, placed their development policy initiatives under the explicit goal of taking an active creative role in a global framework. As one of the first donor countries, Great Britain kicked off "whole of government" initiatives and "conflict prevention pools" in particular that brought the financing of conflict preventative tasks undertaken by different actors (in particular in foreign policy, diplomacy, defence and development cooperation) under one unified umbrella.

The political reactions to the attacks on September 11, 2001 resulted in a security policy pull that went a long way to integrating development policy into the given context and tapped its potential for fighting terrorism. In Germany, for example, development cooperation received special funds in the framework of the German government's "Anti-Terror-Paket" (ATP). Ultimately these funds amounted to very little and as such were limited for some years, which places their potential effectiveness in question. The understanding that, due to its long effectiveness cycles, development policy is not suited to security policy, fire fighting became even more widely accepted when the numerous ad-hoc measures from this time period were reviewed. Concepts and frameworks designed for the longer term were called for.

In the framework of German development policy, these efforts were consolidated under the direction of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) and the term "global structural policy". This expressly referred not only to the immediate effects of "traditional" economically and socially oriented interventions and global administrative steps, but also to an expansion into areas previously reserved as the purview of the classical security policy sector. The BMZ and GTZ commissioned studies to sound out the possibilities for sensible involvement and formulate the respective conclusions and recommendations.[9] The concrete definition of this "global structural policy" followed in 2002 when the BMZ drew up the strategic direction of German development policy under the title "Development Policy as a Building Block of Global Structural and Peace Policy"[10].

Phase 3: Fragile and failed states

Another conceptional answer to the threat scenario of terrorism pushed by the USA in particular was an increased willingness to deal with the problem of weak and failed states. Although weak statehood was already an established security policy issue in the mid-1990s, the explicit role of development policy here did not truly develop until the mid-2000s.[11]

In the strategic plan for the USA's development policy for the years 2004 to 2009, created by USAID and the State Department together for the first time, the thematic constellations of poverty reduction and democracy building that had dominated thus far were pushed into the background by the threat scenario of weak statehood. From here on, then, US-American development policy has become a key factor in efforts to (re)build failed or weak state institutions in partner countries. This targeted orientation rapidly found its counterpart on an international level: in 2005 the "Fragile States Group" (FSG) was created within the framework of the OECD's DAC to deal with concepts, policies and the flow of funds with respect to fragile states. Numerous bilateral donors developed corresponding strategy papers and action manuals.[12]

Initially the different thematic constellations - conflict prevention and peacebuilding, fragile statehood and global structural policy as primary political approaches - generally existed in pretty separate worlds. The DAC, for example, created the "Network on Conflict, Peace and Development Cooperation" (CPDC) parallel to the "Fragile States Group". Not until 2009 did the FSG and CPDC complete the fusion, which seemed an obvious move based on the issues they addressed, to form the "International Network on Conflict and Fragility" (INCAF) that concentrates on the entire range of the development-security nexus.

The foundation of this fusion of the two thematic lines with respect to content was prepared via a strong focus on the governmental security sector by both sides, though in part from different standpoints. The security sector reform (SSR)[13] working area that developed out of this process is currently also the most intensively applied instrument in the framework of concrete interventions in the overlap between development and security policy.

Development policy: the answer to conflict and fragility?

With the ultimate anchoring of fragile statehood as a development policy issue, the development-security nexus has finally become a fully-fledged field recognised in both development and security policy circles. Dealing with the issue has taken on an element of routine. Criticism, initially of development policy actors, has made way for a discussion of concrete difficulties - such as cooperation between civil development policy and military actors in the so-called "deployment area", though this is still a sensitive issue.

The topical direction of the development-security nexus with its initial narrow focus on conflict prevention moved through a broad phase of global development and has found equilibrium now that it is linked to the concept of fragility, a process that can almost be interpreted as a dialectic synthesis. Was the creation of this nexus and is its continuing anchoring and further development a necessity? In view of the close connection that the various stages in the history of this network demonstrate with concrete politically and socially far-reaching events, the answer here leans toward a "yes". This "yes" opens the door to an assessment of the meaning of development policy that has presumably always had as much to do with the interests of the donor countries as it has with those of their partners.

And yet the interests of development partners are arguably the most important indicator of the success or failure of the development-security nexus. Despite overt performance in which development policy actors no longer ignore or negate existing or potential violent conflict, partner countries are still the ones confronted, and at times with a feeling of powerlessness, with the increasing expansion and limitation of security and development policy agendas.

Development and security is always a difficult mix and the balance of instruments tends to be bilateral. Ultimately, development policy usefulness is the decisive factor when it comes to setting the right goals. It is natural and understandable that the connection of development and security from the point of view of a partner country and its people often means something different than is does from the donor's point of view. When considering the debates currently underway that refer to the wide variety of concepts from the donor countries themselves - in particular with reference to questions of whole statehood, coherence or effectiveness - it is particularly important to keep this in mind. After all, development and security should first and foremost always mean development and security for those in partner countries who are primarily affected by the respective problems.


[1] http://www.un.org (largerfreedom, Annex, para. 2)

[2] Cf. Gerald Hödl: Österreich und die Dritte Welt. Außen- und Entwicklungspolitik der Zweiten Republik bis zum EU-Beitritt 1995. Wien: Promedia, 2004, p. 24.

[3] http://www.hsrgroup.org/human-security-reports/20092010/graphs-and-tables.aspx; cf. the graphics and statistics in section 4 in particular.

[4] http://www.hsrgroup.org (Report_Fig4_1_UNnonUNPeacekeeping.jpg)

[5] Cf. an earlier publication in German: http://www.clauderibaux.ch/Pics/Krisenpraevention.pdf (in particular p. 20).

[6] Cf. Volker Matthies, ed.: Vom Krieg zum Frieden: Kriegsbeendigung und Friedenskonsolidierung. Bremen: Edition Temmen, 1995, p. 20.

[7] http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/15/54/1886146.pdf

[8] "Do no harm" was developed by the US-American development researcher Mary B. Anderson. For a brief description see http://www.cdainc.com/dnh/docs/DoNoHarmHandbook.pdf.

[9] In 2002, Norbert Ropers completed a ground-breaking study for the GTZ, http://www2.gtz.de/dokumente/bib/02-5163.pdf. As early as 2000, as mentioned above, Andreas Mehler and Claude Ribaux compiled an overview report on the international situation in the area of crisis prevention, also for the GTZ. See http://www.clauderibaux.ch/Pics/Krisenpraevention.pdf.

[10] Unfortunately the document published as BMZ Special 042 is no longer offered online by the BMZ. The table of contents can still be viewed however: www.gbv.de/dms/sub-hamburg/358315549.pdf.

[11] For an overview of the key development policy documents on the topic of fragile statehood see the GIZ's content server: http://www.inwent.org/imperia/md/content/bereich8-intranet/themendienst_fragile_staaten.pdf.

[12] Such as USAID (http://www.usaid.gov/policy/2005_fragile_states_strategy.pdf ), DFID (http://www.dfid.gov.uk/pubs/files/fragilestates-paper.pdf) [dead link!] or the BMZ (http://www.bmz.de/de/publikationen/reihen/strategiepapiere/konzept149.pdf).

[13] See the SSR Handbook published by the DAC in 2007: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/43/25/38406485.pdf

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