Press Notice 61a, Session 2005-06


The cost of a single conflict in the world almost equals the value of annual development aid worldwide, says a report published by the International Development Select Committee. The Committee is pressing the Department for International Development to address conflict as a policy priority in its report, Conflict and Development: Peacebuilding and Post-Conflict Reconstruction (HC 923-I).

The Committee also highlighted the fact that trade in conflict resources can intensify and prolong conflicts and criticises the UK Government for failing to take adequate action to deter UK companies from engaging in such activities.

The Report follows the Committee's inquiry into the effectiveness of the UK's peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction policies, with particular attention to Africa. The Committee visited Sierra Leone, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to examine first-hand the Government's approach to ending conflict.

The Committee argues that new aid commitments, pledged in 2005, could be wiped out by an increase in conflict in developing countries. The Report cites the estimate that, for a low income country, the average cost of a civil war is about US$54 billion, which compares alarmingly with the total global aid budget in 2004 of US$78.6 billion.

For this reason the International Development Committee is calling on the Department for International Development (DFID) to direct sufficient resources towards conflict-prone and conflict-affected states in order to forestall the high cost of conflicts and their long-term impact.

The Chairman of the Committee, Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce MP, said:

"Poor states tend to be weak states and so they need economic aid to reduce the risk of descending into conflict. However some conflict prone states are rich in resources which can sustain warlords, encourage foreign adventurism and lead to the failure of the state and increased poverty for the many as the few get rich."

"If the Government prioritised the link between conflict and development it would do more to create a climate for poverty reduction in these countries than any amount of costly aid programmes."

The Government is criticised for the manner in which it monitors the behaviour of UK companies working in conflict-affected areas of Africa. The Chairman of the Committee said:

"We believe that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) should work harder to ensure that UK companies working in Africa follow the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. We intend to take evidence from DTI on its role in monitoring the actions of such companies working in conflict-prone and conflict-affected states."

Problems caused by trade in conflict-affected states have prompted the Committee to endorse the call for an international agreement on the definition of 'conflict resources' in the UN. Without a procedure for defining what is a conflict resource and what is not, "the international community's approach will continue to be piecemeal, ad hoc and inconsistent" says the Committee.


Notes to editors:

1. The Committee will be publishing its Report on Conflict and Development: Peacebuilding and Post-Conflict Reconstruction on Wednesday 25 October 2006 at 00.01 a.m. as the Sixth Report from the Committee, Session 2005-06 [HC 923-I].

2. An embargoed electronic copy will be available for witnesses, Government Departments and the press from 11.00 a.m. on Tuesday 24 October, and embargoed hard copies of the Report will be available for collection by witnesses, Government Departments and the press from 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA and from the Press Gallery from 11.00 a.m. on Tuesday 24 October 2006.

3. The membership of the Committee is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Barrett MP (Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Quentin Davies MP (Con), James Duddridge MP (Con), Ann McKechin MP (Lab), Joan Ruddock MP (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh (Lab).

Media Enquiries: Alex Paterson, Tel 020 7219 1589, email -

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Specific Committee Information: Dr. Anna Dickson Tel 020 7219 2738, email -