Members of the Philippine Government Peace Panel and the Moro Liberation Front sign a deal to end four decades of fighting in southern Philippines. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Members of the Philippine Government Peace Panel and the Moro Liberation Front sign a deal to end four decades of fighting in southern Philippines. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Armed conflict has been consistently recognized by development actors, including the United Nations and the World Bank, as one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2018, only 18 percent of fragile and conflict-affected states were “on track” to meet the most basic SDGs, and it is estimated that more than half of the people living in poverty will be found in countries affected by high levels of violence by 2030.

It is for this reason that development agencies and UN member states are allocating a growing share of their assistance to fragile and conflict contexts. For example, the United Kingdom has decided to allocate at least half of its foreign aid to such contexts, and the World Bank has committed to doubling its funding for fragile, conflict, and violence-affected countries.

While development actors are renewing their strategies for fragile and conflict situations— including operationalizing the humanitarian-peace-development nexus and improving operational flexibility—one crucial dimension of armed conflict has not been adequately addressed: the existence of non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and how to deal with them. Read more