With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
CGD research on fragile states examines how rich countries and other development actors can best assist fragile states and their citizens; related work focuses on understanding the transition from immediate post-conflict assistance to longer-term development assistance.
Program goals include
understanding the causes and consequences of state fragility;
determining opportunities for policy intervention and the sequencing of such interventions;
finding ways to improve the effectiveness of aid to fragile states; and,
identifying turning points that signal when donors should shift from post-conflict to longer-term development assistance.
CGD senior fellow Vijaya Ramachandran leads this research to help inform and influence policymakers and practitioners working on post-conflict reconstruction and development in difficult environments.
Together with CGD visiting fellow Satish Chand, professor of economics at the University of New South Wales, Ramachandran has commissioned a series of papers by currently or recently active aid practitioners in post-conflict assistance programs. Drawing upon these papers, Ramachandran and Chand plan to develop practical guidelines to help policymakers and practitioners examine and respond to on-the-ground challenges. Areas of interest include an analysis of donor relationships with the military, the sequencing and coordination of donor activity in post-conflict settings, the value of the European Union’s Stability Instrument, the revival of basic public services in post-conflict countries, and the incentives of government actors in various post-conflict settings.
Previous CGD work on weak and fragile states includes the following working papers, books and reports:
Civil War: A Review of Fifty Years of Research, a working paper by Christopher Blattman, a non-resident fellow and former CGD post-doctoral fellow currently at Yale University, and Edward Miguel of the University of California at Berkeley. The paper investigates how civil wars begin, how the actors are organized, and what economic effects civil wars have on their societies.
*This is a joint post with Steve Radelet
Yesterday in an interview with NPR, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a strong and smart argument for supporting American troops. No surprises there, right? Except for the fact that he is defending the build-up of civilian troops -- our diplomatic and development corps -- to be America's front line of defense in fighting global poverty and insecurity. Much as he did in his brilliant speech at Kansas State University in November, Gates encourages the United States to devote more resources and create new institutions for nonmilitary means of influence abroad: diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development. His message:
If we are to meet the myriad challenges around the world in the coming decades, this country must strengthen other important elements of national power both institutionally and financially, and create the capability to integrate and apply all of the elements of national power to problems and challenges abroad.
And, how specifically do we elevate global development policy in the national interest? Says Gates:
What is clear to me is that there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security -- diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development....The way to institutionalize these capabilities is probably not to recreate or repopulate institutions of the past such as AID or USIA. On the other hand, just adding more people to existing government departments such as Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Justice and so on is not a sufficient answer either -- even if they were to be more deployable overseas. New institutions are needed for the 21st century, new organizations with a 21st century mind-set.
Experience shows that outside efforts to help reform or reconstruct fragile states must simultaneously address issues of security, governance, and economic growth. Greater than the Sum of Its Parts? looks at how seven governments—the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, and Sweden—are seeking to integrate their approach to fragile states. The authors find that "whole of government" approaches remain a work in progress and provide recommendations for how donors can best engage weak countries, including by experimenting with pooled funding arrangements, developing unified national strategies and by evaluating the impact of their interventions.
Last week, USAID Administrator Raj Shah returned from his first trip to Pakistan since he took office at the beginning of the year. His trip followed close on the heels of last month’s high-level U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue in Washington, and was intended to signal that the optimistic words of the strategic dialogue will translate into concrete action. Transcripts of Shah’s press conferences for reporters in Pakistan and in Washington contain helpful information on the direction that the administration is taking in its development strategy in Pakistan. At the very least, it’s the first time we’ve heard Administrator Shah speak at any length about the details of U.S. aid programs to the country.
This is a joint post with Wren Elhai and Molly Kinder.
Senator Richard Lugar’s new opinion piece on Foreign Policy’s website lays out the case that a strong economic partnership with Pakistan is in U.S. national interests. Lugar argues that the recent failed bombing in Times Square and the subsequent arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American who had received bomb-making training in Pakistan’s volatile FATA region, is only a further reminder of how critical cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan remains.