Fragility: Peace & Statebuilding

Fragility: Peace & Statebuilding


"Fragility is a global problem that disproportionately affects those who are least able to cope with it. Poverty is concentrated in fragile contexts: they were home to 460 million people living in extreme poverty in 2020, or 76.5% of the worldwide total. Fragile contexts account for 23% of the world's population, but also 43% (26 million people) of those expected to fall into extreme poverty due to COVID-19 by the end of 2020." OECD DAC States of fragility report 2020

According to the OECD DAC, fragility is defined as the combination of exposure to risk and insufficient coping capacity of the state, system and/or communities to manage, absorb or mitigate those risks. Fragility can exacerbate negative outcomes like conflict and violence, the weakening of institutions, displacement or humanitarian crises. The reduction of fragility factors is key for supporting countries paths out of poverty. Therefore, it is a core task for any development actor to work with governments and other stakeholders with the objective to influence systemic reforms that address the deeply rooted fragility factors such as marginalization, exclusion or discrimination.

Addressing fragility requires the acceptance of all its nuances by tailoring differentiated approaches to specific contexts and working across the full spectrum of issues, and using all available instruments. 

Swiss policy​​ engageme​​​nt

Switzerland is an active member of the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF), a network of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members and multilateral agencies working in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. It focuses on the challenges of delivering results in such contexts, encourages learning and promotes good examples among its members. Through this, the network aims to achieve policy commitments and behavior change among international actors at headquarters and in the field. INCAF accompanies the bi-annual publication of the States of fragility report, what makes it a strong voice on key and emerging trends in relation to fragility.

As an active INCAF member Switzerland benefits first hand from experiences made by other stakeholders in the field of fragility, and with regard to the triple nexus, an issue that is placed high on the agenda. It uses this policy exchange to advance its own thinking and inputs into the international debate at the same time.

By taking the multidimensional fragility definition provided by the OECD DAC as a starting point for its own fragility assessment – a key document of FCHRs CSPM Toolkit – and by adhering to the triple nexus definition as outlined in the OECD DAC Nexus Recommendation Switzerland closely aligns its policy engagement in fragile and conflict affected contexts with the OECD.


​​Implementation of​ Swiss Policy Engagements

On an operational level, the Peace and Statebuilding Strategy for SDC's work in fragile and conflict contexts outlines SDC's operational dimensions of the policy commitments. It spells out the strategic principles, thematic priorities, working modalities, institutional set-up and aid modalities that guide the work of SDC and its partners in these contexts. It builds on the rationale to support countries in their path out of fragility and recognizes that situations of violent conflict are directly impacting on development cooperation and humanitarian aid. As such, this strategy contributes to the overall Swiss foreign policy goals and aims at contributing to positive change against structural violence in an era of an unprecedented level of crises, and at reducing global risks and challenges (such as “terrorism" and radicalization). The Strategy will be revised in early 2022 in order to align it with the most recent policy developments in the area.

Switzerland's contribution to reduce root causes of fragility continue to happen by strengthening political and social reform as well as resilience (cohesion and inclusion), and to the application of a human rights based approach (HRBA) to development. Moreover, it is nowadays broadly recognized that by joining available instruments from the field of development cooperation, humanitarian aid and peace promotion (triple nexus) the Swiss impact can be significantly increased (see below).

With the objective to develop consistent theories of change "out of fragility" the Peace, Governance and Equality (PGE) Cluster developed “Aggregated- and Thematic Reference Indicators (ARI / TRI) valid for the IZA Dispatch 2021-2024.

Conflict Sensitive Program Management (CSPM) is a key competency offered by the FCHR Unit to all SDC staff operating in fragile and conflict affected contexts. CSPM, mainstreamed in the SDC Fieldhandbook, allows to understand the context and the interaction between the intervention and the context in order to maximize the potential of SDC contribution in strengthening social cohesion and peace.​

​Fit for Fragil​ity 

Is SDC fit for working in fragile contexts? Over the last years, the institution has been continuously monitoring and adapting its approach to fragility as part of its core business. Since the 2012 independent evaluation of SDC's fragility-related instruments, the issue has been formally institutionalized. With the management response to the evaluation, SDC approved a substantial monitoring process to accompany the implementation of the Dispatch 2013-2016. By end 2016, this process confirmed that SDC was relatively well positioned for a meaningful engagement in fragile contexts. However, it also revealed room for improvement, notably in areas such as human resources and security management.


Triple Nexus (Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus)

After having concluded an independent evaluation of the linkage of humanitarian aid and development cooperation at SDC between 2017 and 2019 the FCHR Unit initiated a Learning journey on the Triple Nexus. This process aimed at defining a common understanding of the HDP Nexus for the institution, with a special attention to the peace component. By learning from good practices but also challenges, it further aimed at proposing a common way forward to implement the HDP Nexus within SDC in particular and the FDFA at large. 
This process is still ongoing. So far it has led to a clearer picture of the understanding of the Triple Nexus, as well as to the identification of the progress needed in three areas: people, processes and partnerships. The main findings and proposals of concrete action points will be summarized and presented to the Directorate in September 2021.
Furthermore, the 2021 “fit for purpose 2030” process identified the nexus as one of its four action points and the future general structure reflects the will to strengthen the double nexus humanitarian-development within the organization.

​​INCAF ad-hoc group on the Triple Nexus

The OECD International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF) established an ad-hoc group focusing on the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus (Triple Nexus) in order to better understand the coherence between humanitarian action, development approaches and whole of government working to ensure that also diplomacy and security actors are effectively engaged in conflict prevention. INCAF is a peer-to-peer discussion forum on conflict and fragility which allows its members to engage with like-minded states and international organizations on issues which are on the international agenda, such as the “nexus”.