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Thursday, 15 November 2007 - Strasbourg Final edition
Situations of fragility

European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2007 on the EU response to situations of fragility in developing countries

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions of 25 October 2007 entitled "Towards an EU response to situations of fragility – engaging in difficult environments for sustainable development, stability and peace" (COM(2007)0643) and the Commission staff working paper annexed thereto (SEC(2007)1417),

–   having regard to the Joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on European Union Development Policy: "The European Consensus", signed on 20 December 2005(1) ,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation(2) (Development Cooperation Instrument),

–   having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000(3) , as amended by the Agreement amending the Partnership Agreement, signed in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005(4) ('the Cotonou Agreement'),

–   having regard to the African Union (AU) Policy Framework on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD), endorsed by AU Member States at the Banjul Summit of 25 June - 2 July 2006,

–   having regard to the ten principles for good international engagement in fragile states and situations supported by the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Fragile States Group and endorsed at the High-Level Meeting of the DAC on 3-4 April 2007 in Paris,

–   having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 60/1 of 24 October 2005 on the 2005 World Summit Outcome, and in particular paragraphs 138-140 thereof on the responsibility to protect,

–   having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas, since the 1990s, states that lack the capacity to fulfil their "traditional" functions and to drive development forward, and whose institutions are weak, have been classed "fragile states" by the World Bank (WB) and the international development community,

B.   whereas state fragility is more an empirical concept than a normative one, and is a dependent variable and not an original condition; whereas a situation of fragility may exist either before a crisis or after one; whereas the responsibility for determining when states are no longer "fragile" should be that of their citizens,

C.   whereas, despite the fact that there is no unambiguous working definition of the concept, it is possible to identify states undergoing situations of fragility, and the number of states judged by the WB to be "fragile" almost doubled from 14 to 26 between 2000 and 2006, of which 14 are in Sub-Saharan Africa,

D.   whereas it is essential to understand the external and internal factors which contribute to fragility in order to provide assistance and empowerment to such states for the direct benefit of their citizens and for the sake of regional and global peace and prosperity,

E.   whereas different kinds of fragility (for instance the state of being conflict-prone, the so-called "resource curse", bad governance, the state of being landlocked) require different kinds of intervention; whereas a given country might experience different types of fragility, thus rendering categorisation and specific action difficult,

F.   whereas addressing situations of fragility is a long-term process and requires a sustained and long-term commitment both from the countries affected and from the international community,

G.   whereas the AU recognises that reconstruction is primarily a political rather than a technical matter; whereas there is a need, therefore, for legitimate state authority, for consensus-based governance, for affirmative action for vulnerable groups, and for local capacity-building within the framework of an equitable distribution of power and mutual accountability as underlined by AU Policy Framework on PCRD,

H.   whereas situations of fragility are often rooted in poverty and bad living conditions, leading in extreme cases to state-collapse and permanent insecurity; whereas the lack of protection and of rights for the citizens of the countries affected requires - and must be at the centre of - action from the EU and the international community,

I.   whereas there is still not enough sharing of state-building experience between countries and between donors, thus hindering the learning process,

J.   whereas there is a need for a double mechanism of accountability: between the donors and the recipient countries, and between the latter and their populations,

K.   whereas the existence of multiple funding instruments leads to the risk of duplication or of poor resource allocation, and makes accountability and participation more difficult for societies that are already weakened,

1.  Considers that fragility is a complex development challenge and stresses the need for a well-defined and coherent fragility agenda based on the principle of "doing no harm", i.e. adapted to the situation, taking long-term considerations into account and coordinating the multiple aims and approaches of the different stakeholders in light of the main and overarching objective of reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals;

2.  Welcomes the preparation of an EU response to fragility and stresses the need to involve parliaments in all phases of this strategy;

3.  Affirms that a stable and democratic political system, which is conducive to development, the rule of law, the protection of human rights, good governance and peaceful conflict prevention, is the best way to end situations of fragility and to move towards functioning open institutions and efficient and equitable policy-making;

4.  Points out that programming and action in situations of fragility need to be comprehensive and coherent, and have at its core the sustainable development of the countries affected as well as the populations of those countries; considers that a fragility-sensitive approach must be made mainstream in existing instruments and mechanisms and fully agrees that the potential of Country Strategy Papers and thematic programmes, prepared in partnership, to prevent fragility needs to be enhanced;

5.  Stresses that the main components of the fragility agenda should be three-fold, with an emphasis on poverty and prevention: promoting the security of people, improving development, and ensuring peace; stresses also the need to implement such components with consistency in the field;

6.  Considers that long-term strategic planning needs to be coordinated with the implementation of programmes on the ground that have to remain flexible and adaptable, and needs to be responsive to the situation in the country in question; calls on the Commission, therefore, to promote long-term development, and also to provide basic services such as health and education in the short term;

7.  Stresses that development programmes in fragility situations should observe the same underlying principles as development programming in any situation, that is, ownership, partnership, mutual accountability and sustainability;

8.  Calls on the Commission to support all-inclusive peace and political dialogue and reconciliation processes, and to enhance the participation of communities and civil society in all aspects of the recovery cycle and the development strategies;

9.  Stresses that sustainable peace can only be achieved if justice is done, and seen to be done, in particular with regard to war crimes and crimes against humanity; calls on the Commission, in this context, to support the strengthening of the legal and judicial systems of fragile states in order to ensure that perpetrators of serious crimes against humanity are brought to justice, and also to allow for the parallel advancement of justice and reconciliation initiatives;

10.  Calls for the strengthening of individual legal rights, including those relating to land holdings of the poorest, and calls on the Commission to support efforts made in developing countries to diversify their agricultural production so as to allow them to get out of situations of highly vulnerable single-crop economies and thus avoid fragile situations resulting from economic collapse;

11.  Reiterates the need for EU development and humanitarian action to put a stronger emphasis on preventive measures, early warning systems and risk analyses to avoid both man-made and natural disasters that result in fragile situations;

12.  Affirms that a comprehensive model on fragility and development needs to take into account existing local, regional and continental initiatives such as the recent AU Policy Framework on PCRD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the African Peer Review Mechanism and the Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in Africa; calls on the Commission, therefore, to support efforts to strengthen South-South cooperation in this field;

13.  Calls also on the Commission to ensure not only that domestic stakeholders are fully involved in the efforts to overcome situations of fragility, but also that their own notion and definition of state-building and their state model is considered and that local expertise is used;

14.  Stresses the crucial role which women and vulnerable groups play in promoting development and peace, and asks the Commission to promote their empowerment by taking into account their specific needs and situation in fragility environments;

15.  Welcomes the fact that, under the framework of the joint EU-Africa Strategy, the EU and Africa will hold a dialogue on the concept of 'situations of fragility' with the aim of reaching a common understanding and of agreeing on steps that could be taken, and that this dialogue is already provided for in the Action Plan;

16.  Recalls that each individual state has the responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and that the EU strongly supports such responsibility to protect in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 60/1 of 24 October 2005; stresses that the responsibility to protect includes the application of sustained diplomatic, economic and legal pressure, and that threats and coercive military intervention constitute the last resort and need to be strictly controlled;

17.  Emphasises that addressing situations of fragility is complex and requires significant financial and human resources as well as long-term commitments; calls on the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to ensure that such resources are made available in a sufficient, adequate and predictable way and that there is coherence between donor agencies;

18.  Stresses that the use of budget support is not appropriate in fragility situations, where audit and monitoring capacities are weak or non-existent; calls on the Commission, therefore, to use other forms of funding in such situations, unless it can provide detailed information on how the money is being spent;

19.  Asks the Commission to provide Parliament with a mapping of donors and international actors and the type of work they are doing, in order to allow monitoring, as well as the optimal use, of available tools and resources;

20.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the African Union.

(1) OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 378, 27.12.2006, p. 41.
(3) OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3.
(4) OJ L 209, 11.8.2005, p. 27.

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