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Research Report

The Role of SNV in Developing Countries in Internal Armed Conflict (Unedited Version)

Tsjeard Bouta
Georg Frerks
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2001
Published by: Clingendael Institute
Pages: 45

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-2)
  2. (pp. 3-3)
  3. (pp. 4-6)

    1. This study is commissioned to the Conflict Research Unit (CRU) of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’ by the Netherlands Development Organization for Technical Assistance to Development Countries SNV. SNV works in development countries through the establishment of field offices from where local and international technical assistance for development processes is organised. In some of these countries the field offices have been confronted with internal armed conflict. Therefore SNV decided to review the experiences of providing development assistance in internal armed conflict situations so far and to explore the possibility of developing an approach to be adopted in such...

  4. (pp. 7-10)

    7. In general the concept of conflict is hard to define. Most of the existing typologies of conflict show weaknesses in the field of exhaustiveness, mutual exclusiveness of categories, semantic consistency, and neutrality. Definitions often underestimate the complexity and the dynamics, as well as the multi-causal nature of conflicts⁷. Nowadays, the notion of complex political emergency is used frequently to refer to the conflicts at stake. This notion properly indicates the political nature of most internal conflicts, as well as the fact that we normally find a combination of several causal factors. Some of these factors may be seen as pivotal...

  5. (pp. 11-15)

    14. Providing development assistance in conflict areas differs from that in stable and secure areas. These differences are not merely contextual, but also strategic, substantive and tactical. Substantively, it should be made clear what the relations are between conflict and development and how the latter can serve to reduce conflict and promote peace. This is not self-evident as development may very well induce violence, if not contribute to so-called ‘development aggression’. Regarding the relation between development and conflict the following observations are in order:

    Development or the lack thereof can cause conflict17. The development process implies interfering in social relations with...

  6. (pp. 16-24)

    23. In every conflict area there are ‘capacities for war’ and ‘capacities for peace’. They are present at the same time and even can be present in the same institutions and systems. There seems to be a tendency to stress the former set of capacities more than the latter. Development agencies, but also the local actors in conflict settings themselves, tend to focus on divisions and tensions29. Even though they maintain normal actions, they see everything as abnormal, because of the conflict. They often fail to recognize the many ways they continue to act and think in non-war terms30. This is...

  7. (pp. 25-32)

    48. Development actors come more and more to the conclusion that development assistance can be provided before, during and after a conflict. As Speth, UNDP, puts it “one way to avoid gaps between relief and development is never to stop development assistance during a conflict, whenever possible. From a development perspective, we must have preventive development before the crisis. We must have ameliorative development during the crisis. And we must have curative development after the crisis”64. Or as stated in a recent OECD publication on violent armed conflict “to work effectively toward peace, development agencies need to work alongside partners in...

  8. (pp. 33-35)

    71. SNV field directors obviously play an important role in providing development assistance in conflict areas. To a large extent, they are responsible to avoid the negative side-effects of development assistance and to apply the principle of ‘do no harm’, but the maximum of good. In the end the field directors have to work under conditions of minimal levels of security and stability. They are confronted with pertinent issues, such as, whether to continue projects during the conflict or to stop, or whether to work with ‘dubious’ local counterparts. This section deals with some of the pertinent issues field directors and...

  9. (pp. 36-39)

    77. The paper has aimed to increase SNV’s understanding of providing development assistance before, during and after conflict. Increased insight should lead to a renewed conceptualisation of conflict and to a reorientation of SNV’s principles and strategies of working in conflict, to practical adaptations in SNV’s procedures and to designing specific programmes and projects in conflict areas. The issues raised in this paper and summarized below can serve as a starting point for these discussions.

    78. Topic 1: No conflict phases.

    In this paper, we have shown that the so-called phases of conflict hardly exist in the reality of conflict. Conflict is...

  10. (pp. 40-42)
  11. (pp. 45-45)