“Without addressing fragility we cannot achieve sustained development progress.” This statement was made recently by Dr. Rui Maria de Araújo, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, one of several countries in Asia and the Pacific where development progress has traditionally been hampered by fragile and conflict-affected situations. In fragile states such as Timor-Leste, which gained its independence in 2002, achieving development gains are particularly challenging due to weak institutions, political instability or long exposure to internal conflict, and vulnerability to economic shocks or climate change in the form of natural disasters.
When we think of states affected by conflict and fragility, though, we tend to think that the latter is a mere consequence of the former. But that is not true at all, as was discussed in a joint ADB meeting. For instance, most of Asia’s sub-national armed conflicts take place in generally stable, middle-income countries...