The nature of fragility and conflict is increasingly complex and protracted. With short-term, security-focused policies providing ineffective and at times counterproductive, there is a growing recognition that multi-dimensional approaches are more attuned to helping restore a robust social contract between the state and its people, which is an essential foundation for durable peace and sustainable development.
As championed by UNDP, there is a growing realization at the global policy level that responsive local governments and inclusive local governance and local development arrangements are essential building blocks of peace and state legitimacy in contexts marked by the weakness, and sometimes plain absence, of a legitimate central authority. Essentially, the local level remains the natural place for engineering the recovery of societies deeply affected by violence and conflict, and for building resilience of communities through inclusive governance arrangements that build legitimacy. Inclusive and accountable local governance can help restore social cohesion in divided communities, facilitate participation in public life, distribute resources and opportunities equitably, safeguard minority rights, and test new forms of decision making that blends formal and informal processes of representation and participation.
The challenges and risks associated with local governance programming in the immediate aftermath of conflict and or in contexts of systematic fragility, high criminal violence or protracted conflict, remain immense. UNDP’s support to local governance in these settings needs to be guided by a set of options and a theory of change cognizant of the complex political economies that influence the pace and trajectory of development outcomes in such environments. The Guide on Local Governance in Fragile and Conflict affected Settings: Building a Resilient Foundation for Peace and Development is UNDP’s comprehensive effort to respond to these programming needs.