Addressing conflict and instability is part of the core business of Australian foreign and aid policy. Much of Australia’s development assistance is focused in fragile and conflict-affected states, with around three-quarters of bilateral ODA delivered in these contexts. We also recognise that aid alone cannot bring an end to violence or address long term drivers of conflict and that political solutions must be pursued in parallel. In addressing conflict and instability, the aid program will:

  • improve the capacity of fragile and conflict-affected states to manage and resolve conflict without violence and to meet the needs of citizens
  • contribute to peace-building processes in conflict-affected areas to address long-standing grievances and other drivers of conflict
  • shape and apply international best practice including through the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States and engagement with a range of partners
  • promote tailored, context specific, approaches to working in fragile and conflict-affected states including through the application of Australia’s Framework for working in fragile and conflict-affected states
  • better link Australian foreign policy and aid responses in fragile and conflict-affected situations in recognition that aid alone will not solve the challenges of fragility and conflict
  • ensure the effective participation of groups including youth, women and ethnic and religious minorities in supporting peace processes, political settlements and transitions
  • contribute to country-led preventative measures countering violent extremism in countries affected by conflict and fragility, and
  • account for risks in working to address conditions of fragility, conflict and violence.

Economic development

The World Bank's 2011 World Development Report (2011 WDR) Conflict, Security and Development found that the average cost of civil war is equivalent to more than 30 years of GDP growth for a medium size developing country and that trade levels after major episodes of violence take 20 years to recover.

Australian assistance focuses on initiatives to help governments and communities recover from conflict, generate employment and build the foundations for a return to sustainable jobs, a growing economy and improved social cohesion. Supporting inclusive programs that involve youth, women and groups from different sides of a conflict builds resilient communities and helps to sustain development efforts.

A diverse and vibrant private sector can play a critical role in advocating for reform and increased transparency and accountability in government. In fragile states, a legitimate private sector can also be a powerful advocate for peace. In general, the business community has a strong interest in peace and stability because it provides the right environment for investment and growth.

The New Deal

The ‘New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States’ is an agreement on a new global direction for engagement with fragile states. It was developed by the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding. The New Deal was endorsed by countries and international organisations in 2011 at the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan. To date over 40 countries and organisations have endorsed the New Deal.

The key elements of the New Deal are:

  • a focus on the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs)
  • support to country leadership and ownership
  • a push for international and domestic resources to be better utilised.

The New Deal builds on international commitments endorsed by Australia, including the Paris Declaration of Aid Effectiveness (2005) and the Accra Agenda for Action (2008). These commitments challenge us to improve alignment, harmonisation, results, partnership and mutual accountability in fragile and conflict-affected states. They also commit us to drive for results against the PSGs which were agreed in the Monrovia Roadmap on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (2011).

Why we give aid

Fragility and conflict entrench poverty and are powerful reversers of development gains. Many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people live in fragile and conflict-affected states—more than 1.5 billion people. Persisting poverty is increasingly concentrated in countries affected by fragility and conflict.

Fragile states with weak institutions struggle to deal with emerging challenges, and this can have major cross-border impacts. For example, drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) poses a major threat to countries in our region, but also to Australia’s interests and citizens. TB causes approximately 1.7 million deaths a year worldwide. Through the aid program, Australia is tackling these problems at the source and drawing on Australia’s diplomatic resources to engage and influence countries in our region to solve this problem.

Poorly governed spaces also create opportunities for terrorism, corruption and transnational crime to flourish.

How we give aid

Fragile and conflict-affected environments present unique challenges to achieving development.

Australia’s approach is informed by the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding’s New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, OECD-DAC Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States and the Framework for working in fragile and conflict-affected states. As a tool for staff working in situations of conflict and fragility, the Framework identifies three ways Australian aid programs can make a difference:

Aim 1: Building more responsive states

For long-term stability and progress, governments need to be able to provide security and justice, deliver services to all their citizens and allow the space for inclusive political debate. Australia helps to improve the capacity of states to be responsive to the needs of citizens.

Aim 2: Preventing violent conflict

Fragile states often lack effective institutions to resolve tensions peacefully. Outbreaks of violence undermine the ability of the state to perform core functions. And when conflict becomes violent, women, girls and boys are particularly vulnerable.

We work with partner countries to help keep communities safe and to improve the functioning of the formal and informal justice systems, police and prisons. Examples of initiatives to prevent violent conflict include short-term peacekeeping and longer-term building of formal and traditional law and justice institutions.

Aim 3: Building more resilient communities

Strong communities, with the capacity, skills and internal strength to cope with and recover from adversity, are crucial to peacebuilding and statebuilding. Australia works directly with communities, the private sector and civil society organisations in fragile and conflict-affected states to promote reconciliation, economic recovery and service delivery.

A group of children in a classroom
Addressing conflict and instability is part of the core business of Australian foreign and aid policy.


Framework for working in fragile and conflict-affected states

The Framework for working in fragile and conflict-affected states provides a principles-based approach to guide strategy and programming in fragile and conflict-affected states. The Framework is a reference document for staff, providing information drawn from international research, analysis and experience. The Framework also provides the international community, partner governments and other development organisations with a comprehensive overview of how the department addresses the challenges of delivering effective aid in complex environments.

Read the Framework for working in fragile and conflict-affected states