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Conflict is a key issue impacting on countries in the East Asia region, and the bouts of instability and violence that have threatened the well being of countries is by no means a new phenomenon.

Topic Overview

Fragility and violent conflict persist in a number of countries in the East Asia and Pacific region.  These range from long-standing sub-national insurgencies (e.g., Southern Thailand, Myanmar, Mindanao/Philippines) and ongoing peace-building processes (e.g., Aceh/Indonesia, Bougainville/Papua New Guinea) to overall state fragility (e.g., Cambodia, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste).  Crime and other forms of social violence are an increasing concern in some urban centers (e.g., Port Moresby, Manila, Honiara).  Sources of conflict and violence in the Region include:

  • Weak and/or ineffective government or poor leadership;
  • Weak and/or ineffective institutions hampering service delivery; limited mechanisms for peaceful participation and conflict resolution, and lack of effective systems that can serve as checks or balances to authoritarian government;
  • Severe inequalities in resources and power (or the perception of these inequalities) with marginalized groups having limited access to the means necessary to improve their condition; and
  • Exploitation of ethnic and other differences and / or acute discrimination (based on ethnicity, religion, etc.).

In an environment marked by global financial crisis, growing socio-economic inequalities between and within countries in the region, and growing environmental stresses associated with climate change, fragility and violent conflict are likely to remain important threats to stability, human development and sustainable economic growth in several countries of the East Asia and Pacific region.

Experience has shown that well-designed policies and programs can have a positive impact in mitigating conflict, and in assisting societies and states to recover from violent conflict and consolidate peace. The Bank’s social development team has engaged for some time in providing conflict-sensitive recovery and peace-building assistance to Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Timor-Leste.  In addition, the Bank’s social development team in Indonesia has been piloting innovative conflict monitoring practices.


In Indonesia, the Bank’s social development team has contributed significantly through the peace-building process in Aceh in particular, including through the BRA-KDP program (See publications section related evaluations and impact assessments.
In the Philippines, an evaluation of the first phase of the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) is currently being finalized, and will be available by early 2010.


Main conflict-related publications of 2009:

  • Barron, Jaffrey, Palmer, Varshney (June 2009). “Understanding Violent Conflict in Indonesia: A Mixed Methods Approach”. Social Development Paper No 117. World Bank.
    This paper outlines the research methodology being used for the Violent Conflict in Indonesia Study (ViCIS). Building on previous research such as  UNSFIR (1990-2003) and the Aceh Conflict Monitoring Update (2005-ongoing), the ViCIS is collecting newspaper data in 20 provinces across Indonesia to create a quantitative database measuring incidence and impacts of conflict between 1998-2008. Based on the results of this database, targeted qualitative studies will be carried out in selected regions to understand the processes of escalation and de-escalation of violence as well as routine violence in Indonesia.
  • “Aceh Growth Diagnostic”. World Bank, July 2009.
    This paper aims at identifying constraints to growth in Aceh’s post-conflict and post-disaster environment.
  • Morel, Watanabe, Wrobel (soon to be published). “Delivering Assistance to Conflict-Affected Communities: The BRA-KDP Program in Aceh”. Indonesian Social Development Paper No 13. World Bank.
    This paper presents an assessment of the BRA-KDP program achievements drawing from data and evidence from the project’s Monitoring Information Supervision (MIS) system, supervision missions and qualitative fieldwork. It should be read in conjunction with a complementary impact evaluation. “Community-Based Reintegration in Aceh: Assessing the Impact of BRA-KDP” (Social Development Paper No 12 – below), which identifies program impacts on welfare, social cohesion and trust in government.
  • Barron, Humphreys, Paler, Weinstein (soon to be published). “Community-Based Reintegration in Aceh: Assessing the Impact of BRA-KDP”. Indonesian Social Development Paper No 12. World Bank.
    See above.
  • MSR (soon to be published). “Multi-Stakeholder Review of Post-Conflict Programming in Aceh: Identifying the Foundations for Sustainable Peace and Development in Aceh”. Banda Aceh/Jakarta: MSR.
    The Multi-Stakeholder Review of Post-Conflict Programming (MSR) was undertaken by the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board (BRA), the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), AusAID, DFID, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, UNDP, the USAID Serasi program and the World Bank between May 2008 and September 2009. It provides a framework for future policies and programs to consolidate peace and development in Aceh. The MSR employs a comprehensive framework to identify post-conflict needs and issues in Aceh and ways to most effectively respond to them. It considers issues relating to livelihoods and the economy, politics, security and social cohesion, and governance and institutions. Within each of these areas, the report discusses existing programs, needs, challenges and constraints at the individual, community and macro levels. This allows for a consideration of the policies and programs that can build the foundations for sustainable peace and development in post-conflict Aceh.

Focus Areas


In Indonesia, the Conflict and Development (C&D) program, established within the Social Development Unit of the World Bank Office Jakarta in 2002, provides an innovative model for supporting government and Civil Society Organizations in developing conflict-sensitive approaches that respond to the changing dynamics of Indonesia’s transition. The program has a number of elements. The research arm provides analytical work on the nature and costs of conflict, monitors conflict trends, and assesses how development projects impact on these. This feeds into the program’s operational work, which includes support to World Bank projects in conflict-affected areas (such as Kecamantan Development Program [KDP]), and developing pilots that can be scaled-up. The team supports the National Planning Agency (Bappenas) and other key government entities (MOHA, MINDA, and local governments) in developing policies and strategies for conflict-sensitive development, and by providing empirical evidence on needs and approaches that are effective. The program also has an active capacity building strategy, which enhances the ability of government, CSOs and research organizations to work on conflict and development issues. All activities are evaluated and documented and lessons learned are disseminated within and outside of Indonesia.


The Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) agreed to pursue peace talks and suspended military offensive in late July 2009 after almost a year of renewed armed conflict in Mindanao which resulted in death, destruction and a displacement of over 500,000 people.  The many donors who have programs in Mindanao have been providing humanitarian assistance in evacuation centers and are now turning to helping the displaced people return home.

The Bank has been administering a small scale multi-donor Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) which was set up to assist in the economic and social recovery in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao, and to promote inclusive and effective governance processes.  The main strategy of the current phase of the MTF is to build local institutions of key stakeholders (rebel group and local government) and for them to have the capacity and ownership to manage community-driven development (CDD) in conflict-affected communities.  To date, over 45 municipalities out of 150 reported conflict-affected municipalities have participated in CDD sub-projects supported by the MTF.  The Bank also has other investment projects in Mindanao, e.g., Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Social Fund that covers over 100 municipalities of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao of which over 60% of the area are part of the 150 conflict-affected municipalities.  Recently, donors, government and Mindanao stakeholders have endorsed the idea of scaling up the MTF.

Mindano Trust Reconstruction and Development Program 


A long-standing violent insurgency in Muslim-dominated southern Thailand has claimed more than 3,000 lives in the past four years alone.  The conflict derives primarily from limited political integration, relative economic deprivation and the struggle to maintain ethnic-religious identity.  In 2005, the Ministry of Finance and the Community Development Department of the Ministry of Interior of the Royal Thai Government requested the Bank’s help to bring in international experience to help reduce the violence in the south.  Discussions with the Ministries of Justice, and Education resulted in a request for lessons they can learn from the World Bank about working in conflict-affected communities.  Government interventions to date have not yet succeeded in quelling rates of violence or resolving the conflict.  The government recognizes that approaches and ways to work in the conflict-affected communities of southern Thailand could be refined further.

In response to the Government’s request and after extensive consultations, the Bank has provided the following assistance: a Post-Conflict Fund (PCF) grant that assessed the current approaches to local development for mitigating the longstanding conflict in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces; the results of this study were used to design a three year support by a State and Peacebuilding Fund (SPF) for piloting culturally appropriate approaches to build opportunities for increased interaction within and among conflict-affected communities and between communities and the state apparatus through collective action, thereby supporting the foundation for peace. The project will provide CDD block grants to 45 selected villages and sub-districts, and provide small grants to strengthen civil society and networks in the affected areas.  The steering committee comprises representatives from government, private sectors, and civil society to provide guidance.  Knowledge sharing and lessons learned will be mainstreamed throughout the three year support. The management of the pilot project is by a local NGO. Implementation activities are just beginning with selection of project staff, project orientation and training.

Piloting Community Approaches in Conflict

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