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Donor Engagement in Fragile States: A Case Study of Donors in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the OECD Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States
Devin M. Cahill, December 2007

Fragile states are a global concern. Poor governance, lack of services to the population and an absence of institutions is not just a problem for the state itself, but the effects are felt in neighboring countries as well as countries half way around the world. Donor organizations are grappling with the dilemma of how to best engage in fragile states and are trying to solve where funding may show the best results. One of the New Aid Approaches (NAA) introduced by donors is the creation of declarations and guidelines which encompass various other NAA approaches such as coordination, harmonization and alignment. The OECD Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States are an example of such guidelines. The Principles are not binding to OECD members and in order to assess the Principles' strength among donors, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was used in this paper as a case study. Interviews with representatives from donor organizations and other well informed persons (WIP) were conducted to assess the Principles in action in the DRC. Some clear trends seen throughout the Principles are: donors want to abide by the Principles but will do so under their own interpretation; internal strategy and policy changes in donor countries prove to be slow and difficult; donors are political actors that will ensure they are not harming themselves and there is often a clash between the technical and political ideologies. The Principles are a good attempt at organizing donors to strive for the same positive effects of engaging in fragile states. However, they are also very broad and leave much space for interpretation.

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