Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron explained the mission of a new LSE-Oxford commission that he will chair. At its launch last night in London, he said the Commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development would 'set out the road map of recovery for fragile states'.
Fragility is a distinctive phenomenon that calls for distinctive policy approaches. It has been under-researched, and what is known from research has not been used effectively. The goal of the LSE-Oxford commission, established under the auspices of the International Growth Centre, is to guide policy on economic growth in fragile and conflict situations. Its academic directors are Professor Paul Collier from the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford, and Professor Tim Besley from the LSE. It will make policy recommendations for governments, international donors and NGOs to encourage economic growth in countries facing fragility and conflict.
The idea is simple: bring together the finest minds in academia, the people who have spent years researching these issues, with the people on the ground who are dealing with them and delivering on them every day
David Cameron, Chair of the Commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development
In his speech Mr Cameron said: 'I know that we have the right people to take on that challenge.’ He told an audience that included ambassadors, high commissioners, MPs and other representatives from UK government: 'The idea is simple: bring together the finest minds in academia, the people who have spent years researching these issues, with the people on the ground who are dealing with them and delivering on them every day.'
During his time as prime minister, Mr Cameron increased UK aid spending to the UN target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income, giving half of the aid budget to fragile states and regions. He also co-chaired the UN panel that launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He said: 'When I chaired a panel on the replacement of the Millennium Development Goals, global research showed that what concerned people most – after material poverty, of course – was the lack of the rule of law, the cornerstone of a strong, stable society. I am convinced this is the right issue for us to be taking on. Britain has always believed in the moral argument for tackling poverty.
'This is an issue whose time has truly come. Soon, more than half the world’s poor will live in fragile states and regions.
'State failure is not a one-way street. And with our findings we can set out the road map of recovery for more countries than ever.
'So building legitimate governments, generating effective state capacity, promoting private sector development, establishing security, reducing conflict, building resilience, this is a daunting list of priorities, but I am confident.'
Mr Cameron also explained why he had taken on the unpaid role of commission chair and referred to time he had spent in Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria. 'Let me tell you why I am so passionate about doing so,' he said. 'I’ve seen for myself the impact – often the tragedy – wrought by governments that are unable or unwilling to protect or provide for their own people.'
The commission will be co-chaired by Dr Donald Kaberuka, former President of the African Development Bank and currently the Special Envoy of the African Union Peace Fund, who also spoke at the event. Also, on the commission is Dr Adnan Khan, Research and Policy Director of the International Growth Centre, and eight leading figures from the public and private sectors, and academia. They will look at the underlying causes of state fragility, using an extensive evidence base that will include evidence sessions with policymakers, business leaders, academics, NGOs, and other stakeholders. They will also identify where research is needed most to better understand some of the issues affecting fragile states. The Dean of the Blavatnik School, Professor Ngaire Woods, and Professor Collier also gave presentations at the launch.