Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Dual-Oversight Agency

pg. 14: the creation of a dual-oversight agency [bold in the original] where responsibility is shared between state authorities and external funders in order to meet the urgent needs of the population in fragile states through the delivery of essential social and economic services, while building sustainable and accountable systems of public authority.


Readers' Guide Comment on “a dual-oversight agency where responsibility is shared between state authorities and external funders”

The broad goal of enhancing the capacities of national authorities in conflict zones or in countries with a long track record of authoritarian rule is one that is well understood. Exactly how a ‘dual-oversight agency’ will strengthen the state, though, is not clear. In other donor-government partnerships, the disproportionate influence of the donor’s priorities tends to orient the outcome to those of the donor. This undermines a truly ‘joint undertaking’, let alone one that purports to strengthen a weak central government.

GRI’s Global Agenda Council on Fragile States has another concern. It advocates for a dual-oversight agency not just to re-build the post-conflict nation-state but to coordinate between international donor agencies. The report states “ . . . with their panoply of external actors, no one has responsibility for overall systemic outcomes such that capacity-building efforts remain highly fragmented and accountability to donors dominates local oversight mechanisms.” If the problem is a failure of donor cooperation, then there is no good reason that the weak government should be expected to become the mediator between external donors. This issue is more reasonably addressed outside the recipient country through guiding principles developed by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) .  

Readers' Guide Comment on “needs of the population in fragile states through the delivery of essential social and economic services”

Governance of fragile states is, by definition, extremely difficult. Significant support from the international community can help the transition from a war economy to one that supports rule-of-law. This international support can be used for post-conflict economic development, professionalized police training, restoration of educational systems, and a temporary social safety net. WEF argues, without any evidence, that a donor-state alliance can achieve a better outcome than one led by an intergovernmental organization with donor support.

Most fragile states are also plagued by the resource-curse. The battle for control of a natural resource can involve multiple domestic forces, and a combination of competing foreign investors and their allied home governments. In these circumstances the international extractive industries are very likely to be part of the original problem. Consequently these partisan firms cannot reasonably be expected to be neutral governing partners in the post-conflict fragile state. GRI’s recommendation does not exclude these self-interested firms, nor does it explain on what basis firms would be selected to participate in the public-private, state functional governing body in a fragile state. Without these specifications, the effect of GRI’s recommendation would be to enhance significantly the ability of specific resource-extraction firms to continue to operate under a new post-conflict governance arrangement without having to acknowledge any prior malfeasance.

Related Ideas: Four Tools; military matters; Functional aspects of governance; Multi-stakeholder governance; a public-private UN ; Lack of effectiveness

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