CPAID Policy

CPAID informs the OECD peacebuilding framework

Peacebuilding how, for whom and to what end?

Have aid donors historically undermined peace-building processes?


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2020 report focusses on peace-building. Core members of the team for the Centre for Public Authority and International Development (Duncan Green, Claire Elder, Naomi Pendle and Anna MacDonald) have formed a reference group, which comprises academics, international development practitioners and financial institutions, to shape the OECD's conceptualisation and understanding of peace-building. They will participate in ongoing meetings and feeding into the March 2020 progress report. 

Two-day workshop at OECD’s Paris offices in January 2020

The workshop opened a critical debate about the data-driven 'State of Fragility framework', which relies on 44 different databases to rank countries on 6 dimensions of fragility: security, conflict, politics, environment, economic and (new this year) social. The CPAID team, as members of the reference group, challenged the normative understandings of risk and resilience, and the ‘liberal’ indicators of democracy, openness, low inequality and gender rights that have produced some anomalies and similarities between Rwanda and South Sudan. 

Questioning aid donors' approach to public authorities

The core research of CPAID at the LSE evidences the ways in which aid donors often go into conflict and fragile state contexts uncritically assuming that their standard repertoire of actors – governments, civil society organisations and private sector – should remain at the heart of their work. CPAID argues that power is exerted often by a wider range of actors in such contexts – which include armed groups, faith leaders, traditional chiefs – and that donors and INGOs often fail to ‘see’ these groups.

The CPAID team cautions against the ways in which donors pick and choose in the valorisation of the ‘local’, provide blanket solutions and interventions to peacebuilding that may have adverse effects in these contexts, and contribute to ineffective ‘peace economies’ and support for ‘peacocracies’, which creates negative peace around forms of economic dependence, hierarchies of peace actors and hegemonic narratives.

Enabling environment vs intervention approaches to peacebuilding

The CPAID team raises questions about whether the aid world, in the absence of operating on a common understanding of either the political economy or structures of public authority, should stick to an enabling environment (like addressing property rights) rather than intervention approaches to peacebuilding. The team challenged the validity of the deficit model and the policy of aid business in ‘gap filling’ – identifying gaps and deficits, and designing projects to fill them – that often overlooks what works but also the core issues at play in contexts of fragility – economic and political uncertainty, fear and despair, and injustice – that are not easily measured. 


Claire Elder discussed in her presentation the need to challenge the often bifurcated understanding of both the diaspora and the private sector as agents for peace or conflict. In her current research in Somalia, she specifically looks at how foreign aid subcontractors have constituted a long-term class of economic and political brokers with a destabilising influence on peace and statebuilding in Somalia.

Naomi Pendle and Anna Macdonald highlighted the importance of rethinking the transitional justice programming, reconciliation and the importance of understanding how local peace processes impact national peace agreements.