Democracy and governance (D&G) deficits — particularly weak state capacity, accountability, and legitimacy; exclusion or marginalization of population groups; and weak civic engagement — are drivers of fragility, conflict and violence (FCV). D&G assistance to address these drivers — and foreign policies that promote democratic, inclusive and responsive institutions — increase state capacity and accountability, and build good governance. These vital investments can help resolve the democracy and governance gaps and grievances that drive chronic fragility. Building state accountability, effectiveness, and legitimacy, alongside citizen engagement and inclusion, must therefore be part of any pathway from fragility to development.

However, traditional approaches to democracy and governance programming face unique challenges in FCV settings. Volatile and unpredictable contexts, difficulty identifying actors to work with, and challenges in defining and measuring success mean that approaches used in non-fragile settings may not have the same impact in FCV contexts. This paper argues that the field of democracy and governance interventions must therefore adapt to apply more usefully to fragile contexts, and surfaces examples of promising innovations.

Participating organizations: Democracy International (DI); Catholic Relief Services (CRS); International Foundation for Electoral; Systems (IFES); Counterpart International; International Republican Institute (IRI); Mercy Corps; National Democratic Institute (NDI); Pact