From 6th -7th March 2018, the CPDE’s Working Group on Conflict and Fragility organised a two-day roundtable and workshop aimed at sharing both experiences and perspectives on trends and impacts of militarism in relation to development cooperation with a focus on countries and regions affected by conflict.
The convening sought to share evidence, analysis and generate recommendations with an objective of addressing different ways or forms by which international development cooperation or aid is intertwined with security or military objectives in your country/ region, among others and what can CPDE do in conflict-affected countries as well as in donor countries – to advance this agenda?
Yodhim dela Rosa of Reality of Aid-Asia pointed out that 8 out of 12 countries in Asia-Pacific region are fragile states , these include Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Vanuatu, West Papua and Kiribati. He cited World Bank’s data that 50% of those living below poverty line originate from Sub Saharan Africa with the other half originating from East Asia and the Pacific region. Dela Rosa said that government expenditure on military is increasing for instance from 1998 to 2000s the expenditure was low , however from 2000s to present , this expenditure was increasing with a large chunk of military aid to states being from the USA.
Reacting on the lack of definition on fragility and the weakness on Western-dominated frameworks of fragility, Beverly Longid, Co-chair CPDE Working Group of Conflict and Fragility said, “We need to look at fragility from the perspective of the poor and the marginalise, the narratives should cover the experiences of the poor”.
The participants represented Uganda ,Gabon Kenya, Tanzania, Philippines, Democratic Republic of Congo , Senegal, Cameroon, India, Cyprus and West Papua. The organisations represented included women organisations , IPs networks, and religious networks, International NGOs and grassroots social movements, national trade unions and rural sector within CPDE. The convening represented Africa, Asia and Middle East.
The participants’ profiles included; community organisers, community paralegals , gender specialists , regional coordinators, chair persons within networks, general secretaries in networks ,national coordinators, global coordinators and youth coordinators. The areas the participants were working on included gender, environmental defence, Indigenous Peoples, human rights promotion, democracy and workers’ rights.
Leonida further mentioned that most conflict across regions is a result of conflict over natural resources. It was further pointed out that there is need to interrogate whether resources in our communities are benefiting the people at all. Democratic Republic of Congo and the Philippines, for example, have vast minerals and other natural resources but, these resources were not benefitting the people.
Yves Niyiragira , Executive Director-Fahamu, mentioned that their online publication covers stories from farmers in Colombia, Chile and the Philippines and the newsletter is being used as a platform for enabling voices from Africa in amplifying their issues. Trade and trade agreements were also mentioned as a camouflage for joint military exercised and initiating joint military operations.
In Africa , it was mentioned, there is a lot of bidding for post war construction, as well as ODA allocated to conflict reconstruction under the guise of development. It was emphasied that there is need to ensure we know the interest of donors and super powers for political and economic interest.
Malik Sy, member of National Confederation of Senegalese Workers, shared the issues affecting his country and Africa at large, in relation to conflict and fragility. He stated that Africa is still known as a continent of war and conflict and that militarization contributes in deterioration of human rights.
Jiten Yunan shared how indigenous peoples suffer from increased conflict and fragility mostly as a result of the presence of natural resources in these territories. It was explained that in the Asia region, the bulk of suffering of indigenous people is brought about by land related conflict as indigenous people face evictions from their land to pave way for Transnational corporations(TNCs) to operate as well as a result of huge dam projects within communities.
Lorraine Marriot of World Vision International discussed World Vision’International’s work in the Middle East region in countries such as Syria, Yemen, and Jordan. It was explained that the situation for communities affected by conflict in the Middle East is worsening by the day .The situation in the worst affected countries of the Middle East is such that there is no access to basic necessities such as water and health care.
The group also shared different people’s responses to militarism in the Asia Pacific region including what CSOs were doing to counter these operations. These were cited as anti-military movements, anti-military base movements in Philippines and anti-military protests in Korea.