Chapter 5. What are different methods to measure aid flows for preventing fragility, conflict and violence and for sustaining peace?

Sara Batmanglich
Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD

Chapter 5 presents different ways to measure aid flows for preventing fragility, conflict and violence and for sustaining peace. Noting that no agreed international system for measuring and tracking peace and security spending exists, this chapter looks at aid to fragile contexts through the lenses of conflict prevention, peacebuilding, the New Deal Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals, and the arenas of contestation introduced in the 2018 UN-World Bank Pathways for Peace study. The approach in this chapter, then, helps to provide a baseline for translating policy commitments on prevention and sustaining peace into financial and programmatic action. It also identifies trends and gaps in financing since 2010, arguing overall for the urgent prioritisation of the financing of conflict prevention and peacebuilding.


States of Fragility 2016 spotlighted the worrying rise in violence – including but not limited to conflict violence – and it warned that, unchecked, violence puts at risk the historic, universal ambitions of the 2030 Agenda.

Since the report’s release, the highest echelons of the international community have acknowledged that the rules-based international order established to prevent war is under “grave threat”, as United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres told the UN Security Council (UN Security Council, 2017[1]). In this address, his first to the Security Council, the Secretary-General said preventing conflicts and sustaining peace “must be the priority of everything we do together” and called for a new approach to peace and security, one that would shift away from mainly responding to crises and conflicts, at unacceptably high financial and human costs, and to preventing them and sustaining peace (UN Security Council, 2017[1]).

In March 2018, the UN and World Bank published a seminal, joint study on violent conflict prevention, Pathways for Peace. It aimed to provide and stimulate ideas about using development more effectively to prevent conflict. The study also presented a compelling business case for the economic benefits of prevention. Even in the model’s most pessimistic scenario, the average net global savings would reach almost USD 5 billion per year; savings would be USD 33 billion and close to USD 70 billion in the neutral and optimistic scenarios, respectively (UN/World Bank, 2018, p. 3[2]). The model is based on conservative estimates, which suggests that the true economic case for prevention is even more convincing than the already incontrovertible one presented. Pathways for Peace concludes with a call for action that acknowledges national and international actors will need to focus attention, efforts and resources on prevention to implement its recommendations.

These important recent developments join and reinforce other, pre-existing frameworks and initiatives – the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, UN Security Council Resolution 2282 on Sustaining Peace and the Sustainable Development Goals themselves, especially SDG 16 – in signposting areas for greater focus in order to achieve peaceful and prosperous societies. All these shifts have been important in highlighting the urgency of confronting persistent vulnerabilities in countries and regions prone to fragility, violence and conflict. But they will remain ambitious rhetoric unless they are supported by equally ambitious international efforts that include financial commitments.

It is important to note that ambitious financial commitments will not always mean larger commitments. In some cases, and as discussed in Chapters 9 and 10, they will mean smarter and more strategic use of existing funds. However, it is clear that the amount of funding being channelled towards issues such as prevention and peacebuilding has been inadequate, especially when compared to the USD 233 billion spent over the past ten years on crisis response.1 What is less clear is what an ideal amount would be. Further discussion is required around the appropriate size of projects and programmes with a peace focus because, depending on the activity involved, these most likely will not be the largest interventions in a donor’s portfolio. This is good news. Not only are peace and prevention good value for money. They are not even necessarily expensive.

As a contribution to translating these critical calls for action into practice, this chapter examines how aid is being directed towards addressing fragility, conflict and violence. This will help identify where resources may be insufficient, what might need to be adjusted, or, as raised later in the report, how different flows can be more complementary and coherent. It bears repeating that aid is one thing that is within donor control and that this form of financing is often seen as a signal (OECD, 2010, p. 23[3]). Signals matter a great deal. Moving on from these important policy proclamations, the best way that development partners can signify that they mean business – and not business as usual – is to ensure the financing matches up with the words.

5.1. Calculating aid from different fragility and peace perspectives

Considering the issues described in Box 5.1, the methodology used to arrive at the figures in this section is an approximation at best and provides only rough estimates that are meant to stimulate further discussion and reflection among aid providers.2 It is hoped that by presenting even this imperfect picture, the indicative spread of funding from multiple, different perspectives will inform a deeper debate about how the current financing priorities correspond to political priorities and to the unique needs of fragile contexts.

Box 5.1. Tracking aid to conflict prevention, peace and security activities

Any analysis of aid to address fragility, conflict and violence must begin with several important caveats. The first is the challenge of measuring such aid. Except in relation to UN peacekeeping, there is no agreed international system for measuring peace and security spending. The challenge extends from spending outside of official development assistance (ODA) to spending that is ODA-eligible, although the latter is better tracked (Box 5.2). Nevertheless, the sector codes of the OECD Creditor Reporting System (CRS) that have been attributed to the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) and arenas of contestation (UN/World Bank, 2018[2]), for example, were manually assigned and based on human judgement, making them inherently subjective. The process of reporting is itself somewhat subjective, as donors choose how to interpret and thus codify their projects based on their own definitions and conceptual parameters of engagements in peacebuilding and conflict prevention.

A second caveat is that certain activities cost more than others. For instance, PSG 4 (economic foundations) and PSG 5 (revenues and services) most likely will always receive more support than PSG 1 (legitimate politics), by virtue of the type and number of activities they include. A third proviso is that OECD sector codes, to avoid double counting, are only matched to one area in each of various frameworks discussed in this section. This is a false distinction as there is overlap among many of the areas and some activities could accurately be categorised as contributing to more than one objective. Moreover, the structure of the CRS limits the way it can be used, in that not all activities that might contribute to conflict prevention or sustaining peace are included or labelled as such; likewise, from an accountability perspective, the existing codes are not nuanced enough to cover areas pertaining to violence prevention and for which data would be useful.1

1. In particular, codes around violence prevention are lacking. There is only one code for violence against women and girls and none for preventing violence against children, preventing violent extremism, or activities that centre on other forms of political or social violence such as homicide reduction. In general, the lack of code specificity in these associated areas will make it challenging to map the existing structure with all of the targets under SDG 16.

5.2. Conflict prevention

Conflict prevention is currently, and deservedly, high on the international policy agenda. But resources to address it do not appear to have similar high priority. The OECD defines conflict prevention as “actions undertaken to reduce tensions and to prevent the outbreak or recurrence of violent conflict” and which include both short-term actions and longer-term engagement (OECD, 2012, p. 11[4]). The framing recognises that some conflict is “natural, inevitable and often a positive part of development and other change processes” while also seeking to specifically support the “built-in capacities of societies to deal with conflicting interests without resort to violence” (OECD, 2008, p. 16[5]).

As noted above, the OECD Creditor Reporting System includes no specific sector code for conflict prevention. This is but one of the challenges that complicate the calculation of funding for conflict prevention. The CRS previously included a specific “conflict prevention and resolution, peace and security” code. As indicated in Table 5.1, this code is now renamed “conflict, peace and security” and includes the same six subcategories. However, to avoid double-counting in the CRS, projects can be allocated only to a single purpose code. This means that a project with a conflict prevention element might be categorised under a range of different purpose codes – for example, as employment, gender, human rights or even water provision, if that is its principal aim – even when the project has a conflict prevention intent or effect (Dalrymple, 2016, p. 13[6]). Multi-sectoral allocation will be a feature of CRS starting with the reporting for 2017 aid, so further nuance should be provided in the future (Box 5.2).

Similarly, analysis of aid for conflict prevention is somewhat complicated by the fact that a subcategory of the conflict, peace and security grouping amalgamates peacebuilding, conflict prevention and conflict resolution efforts. This makes it impossible to distinguish between aid channelled to interventions prior to a conflict and spending to resolve a conflict that has already become violent. Still, while the grouping may not provide a full or sufficiently nuanced picture of ODA spending on peace and security activities, it remains the best existing proxy within the reporting system and gives a good indication of donors’ intent to support conflict prevention through their development engagements in fragile contexts.

Table 5.1. Conflict, peace and security grouping in the OECD Creditor Reporting System (Code 152)



Security system management and reform



Civilian peacebuilding, conflict prevention and resolution



Participation in international peacekeeping operations



Reintegration and *SALW control



Removal of land mines and explosive remnants of war



Child soldiers (prevention and demobilisation)

Note: * Small arms and light weapons.

Source: Creditor Reporting System, OECD.

Figure 5.1. ODA to fragile contexts: Conflict, peace and security activities, 2010-16

Notes: SALW = small arms and light weapons.

Sectoral data available only in gross disbursement from the OECD Creditor Reporting System database.

Source: (OECD, 2018[7]), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA official development assistance: disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database),


Even with these caveats, the data on conflict prevention development finance are revealing. In 2016, just 2% of the total gross ODA that went to fragile contexts, or about USD 1.7 billion, was directed to the conflict, peace and security category. While this was a relatively small portion, it still was a slight uptick in spending on these activities, which had declined after a peak in conflict prevention ODA in 2010 of USD 1.9 billion. Syria, now in active conflict, has surpassed Afghanistan and Iraq as the top recipient of this type of aid (Figure 5.2).

Figure 5.2. Top 20 fragile recipients of conflict, peace and security ODA, 2016

Note: Sectoral data available only in gross disbursement from the OECD Creditor Reporting System database.

Source: (OECD, 2018[7]), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA official development assistance: disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database),


The United Kingdom is the largest provider of conflict prevention ODA in absolute terms, providing just over USD 329 million in 2016, or about 6% of its total ODA, to prevention in fragile contexts (Figure 5.3).

Figure 5.3. Top 15 providers of conflict, peace and security ODA to fragile contexts by volume, 2016

Note: Sectoral data available only in gross disbursement from the OECD Creditor Reporting System database.

Source: (OECD, 2018[7]), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA official development assistance: disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database),


Interestingly, Slovenia (18%), the Slovak Republic (10%) and Romania (7%) spent the largest proportion of their total aid portfolios on the conflict, peace and security grouping in fragile contexts (Figure 5.4). Their spending amounted to about USD 700 000 in absolute terms, with the priority context for Slovenia being the West Bank and Gaza Strip; for the Slovak Republic, Haiti; and for Romania, Afghanistan. Overall, of the six different subcategories under this code, the subcategory of civilian peacebuilding, conflict prevention and resolution received the largest amount of ODA in 2016 and, together with security system management and reform, accounts for most of the aid in this grouping (Figure 5.1).

Figure 5.4. Top 15 providers of conflict, peace and security ODA as a proportion of total aid to fragile contexts, 2016

Note: Sectoral data available only in gross disbursement from the OECD Creditor Reporting System database.

Source: (OECD, 2018[7]), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA official development assistance: disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database),


Box 5.2. Measuring development flows in the post-2015 era

The OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) has long discussed the security-development nexus and how to account for contributions to security in ODA. While recognising that lack of development creates insecurity and that lack of security impedes development, ODA rules have remained strict and conservative in this area. To protect the integrity of the ODA concept, the boundary between security and development expenditures has been kept clear. Broader security expenditures are not entirely reflected in any system at present, which creates a real gap.

An international task force is currently developing a new statistical measure called total official support for sustainable development (TOSSD) to promote greater transparency about the full array of officially supported financing in support of the 2030 Agenda. This includes resources provided through South-South co-operation, triangular co-operation, multilateral institutions, and emerging and traditional donors. The TOSSD measure will cover support for sustainable development beyond ODA and it will recognise that some of the challenges faced by development co-operation are global. TOSSD will comprise activities that support the implementation of the SDGs by generating sustainable economic growth and ensuring social inclusion without compromising the environment.

Examples of activities currently excluded from ODA that could be considered under TOSSD include:

  • Some counter-terrorism activities beyond preventing violent extremism, which now is the only such activity included in ODA. “Combatting terrorism” is explicitly covered under SDG target 16a and could thus be considered under TOSSD.

  • Peacekeeping expenditures beyond the 15% ODA coefficient currently applied so that the development activities embedded within these operations are captured. Now, ODA support for the Arms Trade Treaty and other disarmament activities is limited to small arms and light weapons (SALW) and to demining, while it excludes disarmament activities related to such items as chemical and nuclear weapons.

The TOSSD international task force will study these questions in an open, inclusive and transparent manner over the course of 2018.

One key eligibility criterion for TOSSD will be the contribution to a specific SDG target. An activity is deemed to support sustainable development if it directly contributes to at least one of the SDG targets. Currently, the statistical system does not record this characteristic, although some DAC members and other development actors have started to assess the goals and targets to which past activities contributed and to develop tracking systems to report to their constituencies. At the same time, some developing countries have started to track both national and international resources for SDG goals and targets in order to better allocate their domestic resources and to improve co-ordination and effectiveness.

Work is ongoing to adapt the OECD CRS database for reporting on the SDG focus of development co-operation activities. A proposal to include an SDG field in the ODA reporting to the OECD DAC will be discussed in June 2018 during the Working Party on Development Finance Statistics. If adopted, reporting entities could flag their development activities with one or more of the SDG targets. The resulting data would allow a more precise analysis of the contribution of development finance to various aspects of the 2030 Agenda, potentially improving aid effectiveness. Reporting the SDG field information will be voluntary in the CRS, but a mandatory eligibility criterion for TOSSD.

Contributed by the Financing for Sustainable Development Division, DCD, OECD

5.3. Peacebuilding

A subcategory of the conflict, peace and security code is civilian peacebuilding. Given the breadth of peacebuilding activities and their inclusion as elements of other sectoral programming, however, it is quite likely that this code only captures a portion of the total activities. The OECD considers that peacebuilding covers four broad areas of intervention: equitable socio-economic development, good governance, reform of security and justice institutions, and truth and reconciliation processes.3

The challenges in measuring peacebuilding activities, however, were made clear in a consultation exercise undertaken in 2016 by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) that aimed to categorise peacebuilding areas based on the OECD CRS (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2017[8]). Figure 5.5 is based on this exercise and the IEP work has been utilised in the analysis of aid for peacebuilding conducted for this report. The IEP underscored the difficulty of distinguishing peacebuilding activities from statebuilding activities and from development more generally, noting that “those categories with more conceptual overlap with statebuilding and development tend on average to be more likely to receive higher levels of funding” (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2017, p. 30[8]).

In acknowledgement of some of the conceptual challenges associated with the lack of a commonly agreed definition of peacebuilding, the IEP initially used as a starting point the five priority areas identified by the UN Secretary-General in 2009 (UN, 2009[9]). Ultimately, though, the IEP decided to limit its focus to just three of those priority areas – basic safety and security, inclusive political processes, and core government functions – matching them with the appropriate purpose codes and separating them into what it termed “core” and “secondary” peacebuilding activities (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2017, p. 10[8]). The priority areas that were not included relate to provision of basic services and economic revitalisation.

Figure 5.5. Categories of peacebuilding expenditures

Source: Adapted from (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2017[8]), Measuring Peacebuilding Cost-Effectiveness,

OECD analysis undertaken for this report used the 16 categories of the IEP’s methodology listed in Figure 5.5. It finds that in 2016, donors spent USD 7.5 billion, about 10% of total gross ODA, on peacebuilding in all fragile contexts. Spending has remained fairly constant at around this amount since peaking in 2010 at USD 8.5 billion (Figure 5.6). As shown in Figure 5.7, this peacebuilding spending represents a small portion of total ODA going to fragile contexts, i.e. 11% of the total to extremely fragile contexts and 9.5% of the total ODA to other fragile contexts. Basic safety and security receives the least amount of aid at approximately USD 689 million to all fragile contexts.

Figure 5.6. Peacebuilding expenditures to fragile contexts, 2010-16

Note: Sectoral data available only in gross disbursement from the OECD Creditor Reporting System database.

Source: (OECD, 2018[7]), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA official development assistance: disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database),


The OECD analysis shows that since 2010, the 15 contexts considered extremely fragile have consistently received close to half of all peacebuilding aid. Considering that 9 of these 15 contexts are experiencing some form of conflict, it is surprising that they do not receive an even larger share of aid for basic safety and security. Although less support overall was provided for secondary peacebuilding activities in extremely fragile contexts, these contexts received a still-considerable portion of spending for inclusive political processes (USD 1.7 billion) and core government functions (almost USD 1.4 billion). These figures indicate that donors give priority to building these capacities. However, they also raise questions about absorption capacity and the effectiveness of focusing on these areas in extremely fragile contexts rather than in other fragile contexts.

Figure 5.7. Peacebuilding expenditures as a comparison of total ODA to fragile contexts, 2016

Note: Sectoral data available only in gross disbursement from the OECD Creditor Reporting System database.

Source: (OECD, 2018[7]), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA official development assistance: disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database),


It is especially interesting to compare the top 20 recipients of peacebuilding ODA with the top 20 recipients of conflict, peace and security ODA. Burundi, Central African Republic, Egypt, Haiti, Liberia, Libya, Sudan and Yemen are among the top conflict prevention aid recipients. But they are not in the top 20 of peacebuilding aid recipients. Similarly, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Nepal, Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania (“Tanzania”) are among the top peacebuilding aid recipients but do not feature among the top recipients of aid for conflict prevention.

Figure 5.8. Top 20 fragile recipients of peacebuilding ODA, 2016

Note: Sectoral data available only in gross disbursement from the OECD Creditor Reporting System database.

Source: (OECD, 2018[7]), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA official development assistance: disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database),


As Figure 5.9 shows, there is also some variation in the top 20 providers of peacebuilding aid, with the World Bank Group, Japan and Australia, in particular, spending proportionately more on aid for peacebuilding compared to conflict prevention aid.

Figure 5.9. Top 20 providers of peacebuilding ODA, 2016

Note: Sectoral data available only in gross disbursement from the OECD Creditor Reporting System database.

Source: (OECD, 2018[7]), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA official development assistance: disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database),


Box 5.3. United Nations Peacebuilding Fund

The UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) was established in October 2006, to provide timely, risk-tolerant and catalytic funding to meet the particular needs of countries and situations at risk of or affected by violent conflict. At the time, the PBF also took into consideration the lack of funding to some of the contexts on their roster as well as the fact that most were not considered priority countries by more than one development partner (OECD, 2010[10]). The PBF is one of the pillars of the UN’s peacebuilding architecture, along with the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Support Office, which manages the PBF.

Since its inception, the PBF has grown in size and scope. As of December 2016, it has approved USD 647 million in funding to 36 countries. Its four main priority areas are supporting the implementation of peace agreements and political dialogue; promoting co-existence and peaceful resolution of conflict; economic revitalisation and generation of peace dividends; and rebuilding essential administrative services and capacities (UN PBSO, n.d.[11]). The PBF has two response windows that are structured around accumulated good practice with respect to the financing needs of volatile contexts. The immediate response facility swiftly responds to changes in these contexts and does not require the context to undergo a formal eligibility process. The peacebuilding and recovery facility provides medium-term financing based on a Peacebuilding Priority Plan that is articulated at the country level and intended to maximise national ownership.

The majority of PBF funding has gone to projects that address national reconciliation, which the 2016 States of Fragility report identified as an important area that lacks funding (OECD, 2016, p. 141[12]). Of the 34 contexts currently receiving PBF funding, 27 are in the OECDs 2018 fragility framework. In a 2018 report on the PBF, the UN Secretary-General warned that the health of the fund was in question, noting that demand had outstripped supply; the PBF approved USD 157 million in 2017 but received only USD 93 million in contributions, which nevertheless was an increase from 2016 when it received USD 58.6 million in contributions (UN General Assembly, 2017[13]). A pledging conference held in September 2016 requested USD 300 million as the minimum amount to sustain operations for three years.

In January 2018, the Secretary-General released his much-anticipated report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, which referred to the PBF as a critical vehicle through which the UN can step up efforts to build resilience and focus on prevention (UN General Assembly/UN Security Council, 2018[14]). He called for a “quantum leap” in contributions to the PBF, citing forecasting based on country-driven needs across several areas that estimates the need for USD 500 million annually, and suggested several options for achieving greater and more predictable financing. Regardless of which combination of options is chosen by UN member states to provide the PBF more funding, the Fund is likely to be an essential tool in the next generation of financing for sustaining peace.

5.4. The New Deal Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals

After extensive global consultations, the New Deal and its Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) were agreed in 2011 as a foundation to guide thinking and funding decisions around priority areas (Box 5.4), with further delineation of the goals to take place at country level (New Deal, 2014[15]). But implementation of the New Deal at the country level has been problematic. The most recent independent review found no evidence that international actors had increased their aid allocations towards the PSGs and that only in the case of Somalia were the PSGs used to define national priorities and align budgets (Hearn, 2016, p. 11[16]). It should be noted, though, that the PSGs were agreed at the end of the Millennium Development Goals era, when peace did not feature as prominently on the international agenda as it now does with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Nonetheless, in terms of substantive areas of focus that have particular relevance in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, the PSGs have stood the test of time. This is exemplified by their similarity to the deeply researched arenas of contestation discussed in the recent, joint UN/World Bank study, which are described as the critical spaces where grievances and risks can accumulate or intensify and where opportunities may open to pursue peaceful outcomes (2018, p. 141[2]).

Box 5.4. The New Deal’s Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs)

PSG 1: Legitimate politics: Foster inclusive political settlements and conflict resolution

PSG 2: Security: Establish and strengthen people’s security

PSG 3: Justice: Address injustices and increase people’s access to justice

PSG 4: Economic foundations: Generate employment and improve livelihoods

PSG 5: Revenues and services: Manage revenue and build capacity for accountable and fair service delivery

Source: (New Deal, 2014[15]), Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals,

Analysis undertaken for the 2015 States of Fragility report found that investments in some PSGs were very low, amounting to 4% of ODA to that year’s fragile contexts grouping for PSG 1, 2% for PSG 2 and 3% for PSG 3 (OECD, 2015, p. 68[17]). To some extent, these figures could reflect that activities under the other PSGs are more expensive. But it is also possible that aid is directed towards PSGs 4 and 5 (45%) because they are perceived to be easier and more straightforward interventions than the politically sensitive, complex and yet critical PSGs 1, 2 and 3. Notably, the pattern of spending towards the PSGs in fragile contexts did not differ significantly from spending towards these goals in non-fragile developing countries (OECD, 2015[17]) (OECD, 2015[17]).

Current OECD analysis using the most recent data finds that nearly half of ODA (48.7%) going to fragile contexts in 2016 was channelled towards the five PSGs. The portion of ODA going to PSGs 1, 2 and 3 remains low and has even fallen since the 2015 report to 3.5%, 1.1% and 1.5%, respectively (Figure 5.11). The relative distribution of aid among the five PSGs, however, has remained fairly consistent over time, as has the total amount of ODA directed towards the PSGs in fragile contexts. In addition, the percentage of ODA going to some PSGs is consistently higher in non-fragile contexts than in fragile contexts (Figure 5.10). One reason may be that PSGs 4 and 5 cover many areas of standard development practice around economic growth. Presumably as regards these PSGs, it also is easier to implement more and larger-scale projects where fragility is absent. Nonetheless, it is worth repeating that the politically sensitive and arguably purely peacebuilding aspects of the New Deal that are embodied in PSGs 1, 2 and 3 receive almost the exact same support proportionally in non-fragile and in fragile contexts. This raises important questions regarding how much donors are tailoring their development approaches for the special needs of fragile contexts.

Figure 5.10. ODA to the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) in fragile and non-fragile contexts, 2010-16

Notes: Non-PSG ODA includes donors’ debt relief and administrative costs, refugees in donor countries, and unallocated/unspecified ODA. It also covers other purpose codes such as medical education/training, medical research, medical services, basic health care, basic health infrastructure, basic nutrition and infectious disease control.

Sectoral data available only in gross disbursement from the OECD Creditor Reporting System database.

Source: (OECD, 2018[7]), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA official development assistance: disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database),


Figure 5.11. ODA to PSGs in fragile contexts (as a percentage of total ODA), 2016

Note: Sectoral data available only in gross disbursement from the OECD Creditor Reporting System database.

Source: (OECD, 2018[7]), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA official development assistance: disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database),


5.5. The Pathways for Peace study’s arenas of contestation

The joint UN and World Bank Pathways for Peace study is the most recent and thorough collection of accumulated research on the drivers and prevention of violent conflict. It introduces the concept of arenas of contestation, the broad areas where conflict naturally arises among groups and between society and the state. The four arenas revolve around power and governance; land and natural resources; service delivery; and security and justice. These are spaces where “people or groups bargain for access to the basic means of livelihoods and well-being” and therefore where both the stakes and risks of violence are high (UN/World Bank, 2018, p. 142[2]).

Preliminary interpretation of the arenas through the purpose codes offered in the CRS shows that in 2016 almost USD 29 billion, or close to 40% of total ODA, was spent on these arenas of contestation in fragile contexts (Figure 5.12). However, security and justice received a much smaller share of the ODA channelled to these four arenas and service delivery received by far the most. The arenas of power and governance and of land and natural resources each received about the same level of aid attention. Even more so than with the PSGs, only minor differences appeared in allocations to arenas across fragile and non-fragile contexts. This again raises the question of differentiation in development engagements and prioritisation in contexts where the risks described in the Pathways for Peace study manifest, as opposed to traditional development contexts where the risk of violent conflict is lower.

Figure 5.12. ODA to Pathways for Peace arenas in fragile and non-fragile contexts, 2016

Note: Sectoral data available only in gross disbursement from the OECD Creditor Reporting System database.

Source: (OECD, 2018[7]), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA official development assistance: disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database),


5.6. United Nations peacekeeping

The lack of systematic monitoring of bilateral security expenditures makes it difficult to gauge levels of global investment in security as a global public good versus investments in security in the national interest (OECD, 2015, p. 73[17]) (OECD, 2015, p. 73[17]). The expanding array of global public bads – for example, terrorism and transnational organised crime – also is affecting the equation. What is in the national interest and what contributes to the global public good are no longer necessarily mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, UN peacekeeping remains the largest multilateral investment in global security. It is also an investment that can be measured and tracked. Therefore, understanding the status of peacekeeping is important because the challenges that peacekeeping faces in many ways reflect the challenges that are facing the pursuit of peace as a global public good.

The 2015 report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) noted the changing landscape within which peace operations are deployed and voiced concern that “changes in conflict may be outpacing the ability of UN peace operations to respond” (High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, 2015, p. ii[18]). The context in which peacekeeping missions operate is also shifting. The majority of military and police under UN command are now concentrated in just five missions that are characterised by “persistent violence, including threats to their personnel; large-scale violence-induced humanitarian crises; and severe limits on their ability to pursue clear political conflict resolution strategies, either due to a lack of credible national partners or poor relations with their host states” (Gowan, 2018[19]).4 The five years from 2013 to 2017 saw an unprecedented spike in casualties, with 195 UN peacekeepers killed in the line of duty (dos Santos Cruz, Phillips and Cusimano, 2017[20]). Of the 14 current peacekeeping operations, 8 are deployed in countries and contexts in the 2018 fragility framework.5 Seven of these are in extremely fragile contexts.

The approved UN peacekeeping budget for fiscal year 2017/18 is USD 6.8 billion, which finances 13 peacekeeping missions and also supports logistics for the African Union Mission in Somalia (UN General Assembly, 2017[21]). This budget is approximately 7.5% lower than the approved budget for the previous fiscal year (UN DPKO, 2018[22]). The budget reduction is due in part to drawdowns in Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti and Liberia. However, UN officials also warn that it should not be mistaken for a reduction in need and consistently are describing missions as overstretched, under-resourced and, in the words of UN Secretary-General Guterres, “under siege” (UN, 2017[23]) (UN, 2017[23]). To put the UN peacekeeping budget in perspective, it represents only about 0.4% of global military expenditure, which in 2016 was estimated at USD 1.686 trillion, or 2.2% of global GDP (Tian et al., 2017[24]). Compared to development expenditures, however, the peacekeeping budget represents 10% of net ODA in 2016 going to fragile contexts.

In 2016, the largest peacekeeping budgets were for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (USD 1.2 billion), South Sudan (USD 1.1 billion), Darfur (USD 1 billion), Mali (USD 933 million) and Central African Republic (USD 921 million) (Center on International Cooperation, 2017[25]). As of 2017, the United States, China, Japan and Germany together provided over half of the assessed contributions to peacekeeping operations (UN DPKO, 2018[22]). Six out of the top ten troop and police contributing countries are themselves considered fragile, with the largest of these, Ethiopia, considered extremely fragile in the OECD fragility framework (UN DPKO, 2018[26]).

In the absence of other actors, peacekeepers often deliver more than security, such as stabilisation, counter-terrorism, statebuilding and atrocity prevention where governments are unable or unwilling to protect their own civilians (Hunt, 14 June 2017[27]). They are also delivering development, in a broad sense. This became evident in a technical review carried out by the OECD, in collaboration with the UN Department of Field Support (UN DFS), of ODA-eligible development activities being undertaken by uniformed personnel in seven missions (OECD, 2017[28]). As shown in Figure 5.13, the review finds that peacekeepers support a range of activities including delivery of humanitarian assistance and medical assistance, infrastructure engineering, smaller quick-impact projects with local communities, and even political dialogue and advice.

Figure 5.13. Breakdown of ODA-eligible activities conducted by military personnel in the surveyed mission1

Note: SALW = small arms and light weapons.

1. The seven missions surveyed were: UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and UN Multidimensional Integrated

Source: Adapted from (OECD, 2017[28]), “DAC Working Party on Development Finance Statistics: Technical review of the ODA coefficient for United Nations peacekeeping operations”, p. 9.


This breadth of activities was acknowledged during a recent UN Security Council meeting devoted to improving UN peacekeeping operations. At the meeting, the Secretary-General noted that “peace operations cannot succeed if they are deployed instead of a political solution rather than in support of one”. He went on to say: “A peacekeeping operation is not an army or a counter-terrorism force or a humanitarian agency. It is a tool for creating the space for a nationally owned political solution” (UN Security Council, 2018[29]).

Yet, many demands are placed on peacekeeping missions precisely because many of today’s deployments are in places where, as the HIPPO report said, “there is little or no peace to keep” (High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, 2015, p. 28[18]). This can lead to confusion about mandates, especially when those mandates are overloaded, unfeasible and include multiple elements far beyond traditional peacekeeping. The UN Secretary-General has called this “mandate inflation”, telling the Security Council during its meeting on peacekeeping operations that as an example, the UN Mission in South Sudan cannot possibly implement its 209 mandated tasks (UN Security Council, 2018[29]). Box 5.5 argues that UN special political missions, for instance, also have important roles to play.

Reflection therefore is needed not only on the role of UN peacekeeping within the larger architecture for sustaining peace, but also on all international behaviour that affects peace, especially in light of the shift towards prevention as a primary goal (Figure 5.14). This can help recalibrate, if necessary, the balance among different elements of the international approach.

Box 5.5. United Nations special political missions

The UN Department of Political Affairs manages 13 field-based, special political missions (SPMs). Three of them are regional missions serving multiple countries. As the most operational component of the UN’s political work, the missions have varying mandates and undertake a range of activities with a strong preventive thrust, from traditional diplomacy, human rights monitoring, development work and peacebuilding to other tasks that help to support complex political transitions. As such, they work in concert with national actors and other development and humanitarian actors (UN DPA, 2014[30]).

Despite different specific mandates, SPMs share a focus on political origins, political means and political goals (Gowan, 2010, p. 3[31]). They operate at different geographic levels and at different phases of the conflict cycle, a feature that is one of their strengths but also raises questions as to whether they should be considered alternatives or adjuncts to larger and more expensive peace operations (Gowan, 2010, pp. 4-15[31]). However, the false dichotomy of political versus peacekeeping missions is based more on budgetary categories than any other factor and can distract from the central decision as to the most appropriate UN instrument for a given context (Gowan, 2010, p. 114[31]).

International calls to action for a greater focus on prevention, and in particular the Secretary-General’s vision on prevention, set out four ways in which the UN can better support progress in this area including a “surge in preventive diplomacy”, strengthening partnerships and long-term prevention (Guterres, 2017[32]). It is worth noting that these are all areas for which special political missions have the field presence and expertise to provide cost-effective support, if resourced and prioritised appropriately.

For the 2018/19 biennium, the Secretary-General requested a budget of USD 636.6 million to cover 34 SPMs and, in addition to the larger field-based missions, to also cover offices of special envoys, advisors and representatives, and panels of experts (UN General Assembly, 2017[33]; UN, 2017[34]). For comparative purposes, the total proposed budget for SPMs is about half the annual budget for the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).1 Without falling into the trap of seeing a dichotomy between political and peacekeeping missions, decisions about resources can provide an effective entry point for a more strategic reflection on the best deployment and optimum balance of the full range of UN instruments to prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation or recurrence of conflict.

1. The budget for fiscal year 2016/17 for MONUSCO was USD 1.2 billion. See

Addressing fragility, preventing conflict, and building and sustaining peace are not easy or short-term endeavours. They require consistent commitment at both the policy and programmatic level. But they are not necessarily expensive endeavours, especially compared to peacekeeping and other forms of crisis response. The frameworks and constructs described in this chapter, while all similar, still have slightly different theories of change with respect to the programmatic interventions they espouse. Those that include broader development activities – especially those related to delivery of basic services such as the PSGs and the arenas of contestation – will inevitably look like they are receiving more money. This underscores the importance of also looking through the more focused lenses of conflict prevention and peacebuilding to get a more accurate sense of how well development aid is specifically supporting peace. With about 2% of total gross ODA to fragile contexts in 2016 going to conflict prevention and 10% to peacebuilding, the international community so far appears more rhetorically than financially committed to the prevention and sustaining peace agendas.

The analysis in this chapter also suggests there is stronger preference for the types of activities that do not touch upon the most sensitive and complex aspects of development, such as politics, security and justice. These are the most challenging areas precisely because they go to the core of how fragility shapes the most vital aspects of the social contract. This is not to imply that each of the various components of these frameworks or each arena of contestation, for instance, should receive the same investment. Nor should it imply that aid alone will solve conflict and fragility. But it is important to consider what opportunities are being missed if these priorities are continually under-resourced in fragile contexts.

The intent of this chapter is to provide a baseline for thinking, from alternative perspectives, about translating policy commitments into financial and programmatic action and to identify trends and gaps in financing. After a high point in 2010, financial commitments to conflict prevention and peacebuilding appear to have levelled off and have yet to regain popularity. This is an issue that will have to be addressed with some urgency if critical political commitments to peace, as embodied in multiple global agendas, are to retain their legitimacy.

Figure 5.14. Top 10 providers of assessed contributions to UN peacekeeping and top 10 exporters of arms, 2017

Sources: (UN DPKO, 2018[22]), “How we are funded”,; (SIPRI, n.d.[35]), SIPRI Arms Transfers (database),



[25] Center on International Cooperation (2017), Current UN peace operations (graph), Center on International Cooperation, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[31] Gowan, R. (ed.) (2010), Review of Political Missions 2010. A Project of the Center on International Cooperation, Center of International Cooperation,

[6] Dalrymple, S. (2016), Investments in Peace and Security: An Overview, Development Initiatives,

[20] dos Santos Cruz, A., W. Phillips and S. Cusimano (2017), Improving Security of United Nations Peacekeepers: We Need to Change the Way We Are Doing Business, United Nations Peacekeeping,

[19] Gowan, R. (2018), “The end of a peacekeeping era”, Global Peace Operations Review, (accessed on 27 May 2018).

[32] Guterres, A. (2017), The vision of the Secretary-General on prevention, United Nations, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[16] Hearn, S. (2016), Independent Review of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, Center on International Cooperation,

[18] High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (2015), Uniting Our Strengths for Peace: Politics, Partnership and People, United Nations, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[27] Hunt, C. (14 June 2017), “Back to basics or adapt to circumstance? The options for UN peace operations”, IPI Global Observatory blog,

[8] Institute for Economics and Peace (2017), Measuring Peacebuilding Cost-Effectiveness, Institute for Economics and Peace,

[15] New Deal (2014), Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals, International Dialogue, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[7] OECD (2018), “Detailed aid statistics: ODA Official development assistance: gross disbursements”, OECD International Development Statistics (database), (accessed on 11 June 2018)

[28] OECD (2017), “DAC Working Party on Development Finance Statistics: Technical review of the ODA coefficient for United Nations peacekeeping operations”, OECD , Paris.

[12] OECD (2016), States of Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[17] OECD (2015), States of Fragility 2015: Meeting Post-2015 Ambitions, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[4] OECD (2012), Evaluating Peacebuilding Activities in Settings of Conflict and Fragility: Improving Learning for Results, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[10] OECD (2010), Resource Flows to Fragile and Conflict-Affected States, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[3] OECD (2010), Transition Financing: Building a Better Response, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[5] OECD (2008), “Guidance on Evaluating Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Activities - Working draft for application period”, OECD Publishing, Paris, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[35] SIPRI (n.d.), “SIPRI Arms Transfers Database”, SIPRI Databases, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), (accessed on 15 May 2018).

[24] Tian, N. et al. (2017), “Trends in world military xpenditure, 2016”, SIPRI Fact Sheet, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[34] UN (2017), Delegates urge creation of special account, better coordination with peacekeeping operations as Fifth Committee examines budgets for special political missions, United Nations, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[23] UN (2017), Peacekeeping at crossroads, Secretary-General tells security council, stressing that operations must be relevant, have clear, achievable mandates, United Nations, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[9] UN (2009), “Report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict (A/63/881–S/2009/304)”, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[30] UN DPA (2014), In the Field: Overview, United Nations Department of Political Affairs, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[22] UN DPKO (2018), How we are funded, United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[26] UN DPKO (2018), “Troop and Police Contributors”, United Nations Peacekeeping (database), (accessed on 25 April 2018)

[33] UN General Assembly (2017), Estimates in respect of Special Political Missions, Good Offices and Other Political Initiatives Authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council: Report of the Secretary-General, United Nations General Assembly, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[21] UN General Assembly (2017), “Note by the Secretary-General: Approved resources for peacekeeping operations (A/C.5/71/24)”, Fifth Committee, No. Agenda item 149, United Nations General Assembly, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[13] UN General Assembly (2017), The Peacebuilding Fund: Report of the Secretary-General (A/71/792), United Nations General Assembly, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[14] UN General Assembly/UN Security Council (2018), Peacebuilding and sustaining peace: Report of the Secretary-General (A/72/707–S/2018/43), United Nations General Assembly/United Nations Security Council, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[11] UN PBSO (n.d.), United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[29] UN Security Council (2018), “United Nations peacekeeping operations agenda item (S/PV.8218)”, United Nations Security Council, (accessed on 25 April 2018).

[1] UN Security Council (2017), Maintenance of international peace and security (S/PV.7857), United Nations Security Council,

[2] UN/World Bank (2018), Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict, United Nations/World Bank,


← 1. This figure includes what the international community has spent on humanitarian response, peacekeeping and hosting refugees. See

← 2. A list of codes of the OECD Creditor Reporting System used under each category is available at

← 3. For examples of activities under each of these four areas, see

← 4. These five missions are in Central African Republic (MINUSCA), Darfur (UNAMID), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Mali (MINUSMA) and South Sudan (UNMISS). See

← 5. These are Abyei, Central African Republic, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mali, Pakistan as part of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), and South Sudan.

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