Transforming fragile states: forging a new consensus

Briefing papers
June 2019

The prospect of reaching the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 (or ever) dims when viewed through the lens of fragile states. After a historic period that brought a decrease in conflict and dramatic improvements in human development, fragility is on the rise, bringing enormous human, political, economic and environmental costs.

Therefore, collective action is urgently needed to deal with the challenges resulting from growing instability and persistent fragility. However, the international consensus and machinery for addressing these challenges is frayed and outmoded, and the unattended impacts of these crises are roiling political systems on every continent, contributing to the greatest period of uncertainty since the creation of the modern international system, and challenging the credibility of multilateral institutions. 

A group of world leaders, including the late UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, came together with experts under the leadership of ODI, The Rockefeller Foundation and the US Institute of Peace to draft a set of principles and approaches to catalyse change. At their core is a simple but powerful idea: the challenges of fragile states are inherently political, and therefore the starting point must be to keep politics at the center of approaches to address them

These principles and approaches form the Bellagio Consensus, which seeks to bring together local leaders responsible for change in fragile environments and international institutions charged with supporting them. This paper expands on these critical ideas and serves as a call to action for all those seeking a more peaceful world.