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France adopts a new strategy for fragile situations

On 13 June, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs will present France’s new strategy for “fragility”. The main aspects of this strategy, which were announced at the last Inter-ministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) show that the government wants to reinforce its general approach to crises and fragilities. They also represent a paradigm shift from a “fragility” approach to a more dynamic approach based on the concept of “fragilisation” which gives greater importance to risk detection and protection. Groupe URD, which has been working on issues of fragility and resilience for a long time, accompanied the elaboration of this strategy via research and in helping to define the three main pillars: fragilisation, prevention and global action.

The 2013 review of France’s development cooperation policy by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) recommended that the French strategy for fragile states should be updated. The Inter-ministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID), which met on 30 November 2016, subsequently confirmed that the French government would revise its strategy in 2017.

A new strategy was therefore developed for fragile situations in order to improve the effectiveness of France’s aid while taking into account recent doctrinal, institutional and operational changes, as well as increased demand for accountability.

Groupe URD was asked to conduct research to support this strategic reflection. Having reviewed the literature, we conducted interviews in Paris and travelled to New York, Washington, Guinea, Chad, Colombia and Nepal to speak to the actors involved in Team France and their international partners. We then facilitated a series of multi-actor workshops to support the drafting process for the Strategy. We worked under the auspices of a Steering Committee made up of the Sustainable Development Directorate (DDD), the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs’ Crisis and Support Centre, and the French Development Agency (AFD, Cellule Crises & Conflits), coordinated by the democratic governance mission. The overall process was run by a broad inter-ministerial Committee that included the Ministries of the Armed Forces, of the Interior, of Justice, of Health, etc.

The originality of this strategy is that it promotes a much more dynamic approach based on the concept of “fragilisation” rather than “fragility” and gives more importance to risk detection and prevention, and rapid action. It also underlines the issues at stake in relation to a multi-actor approach both internally in France and with key partners such as the European Union, the United Nations, and the knowledge sector (universities and think tanks), all of whom are necessary to operate in these contexts.