Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Department for International Development

Report on the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool for the Quadripartite Committee


  In April 2001 the Secretary of State for International Development, Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary wrote a joint letter to the Chairs of the Select Committees with information about the establishment of the pooled arrangements for conflict prevention work. The Secretary of State also stated that they would keep the Select Committees informed about progress on both the Africa Pool and on the Global Pool (covering work outside of sub-Saharan Africa). This report summarises the main achievements and issues that have arisen in the first year of operation of the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool. It also outlines key areas of work that are being developed under the Africa Pool over the next period.


  The Africa Conflict Prevention Pool was established in April 2001 as one of two Pools (the other covers work outside sub-Saharan Africa). The Africa Pool aims to improve the effectiveness of UK policy on conflict prevention/reduction, peace support activities and deliver better policy outcomes. The Pool combines the work and resources of the three main government Departments (DFID, FCO and MOD) engaged in conflict related work in Africa.


  Key achievements in the past year include:

(a)  Improved inter-departmental policy coordination

  In its first year, the Africa Pool has succeeded in promoting an improved, better-coordinated UK conlfict prevention strategy that will increase the UK's conflict prevention effectiveness and leverage. As a result of the Pool arrangements DFID, FCO and MOD now coordinate and work more closely together and this has improved understanding of the issues and added value to the work of individual Departments.

  The linkages between policy level work and implementation have been strengthened through more regular exchanges of information, including the creation of inter-Departmental working groups for the geographic and thematic priority areas within Whitehall and at country/regional levels. Examples of improved joint working and a strengthened UK approach in the past year include: a closely co-ordinated programme for security sector reform in Sierra Leone; and support for the South African led Special Protection Force in Burundi. The existence of the Pool also enabled the UK to respond more flexibly and appropriately to in-year requirements, such as in Burundi.

(b)  Better policy analysis and implementation

  Improved coordination between Departments has produced higher quality of policy analyses and the development of inter-departmental geographical and thematic priority strategies. Ministers agreed medium term priorities for the Pool based on a number of factors including: an assessment of the overall conflict environment in Africa, including the impact of specific conflicts; the geographical and thematic areas where UK support can achieve the most impact in resolving specific conflicts; the opportunity cost of the UK not making an early intervention on peacekeeping and progrmmes; whether other international and regional actors are better placed to intervene; the range and cope of policy instruments that the UK has at its disposal to deal with conflict issues; and areas where the UK can exert leverage.

  In FY 2001-02, the Africa Pool inherited a large proportion of legacy activities based on previous individual Departmental commitments. These activities were scrutinised to determine the nature of the commitments and how they fitted within a more strategic UK approach to conflict prevention/reduction and peacekeeping, jointly developed by the relevant Departments.

  Ministers provided guidance that the Africa Pool should focus on a relatively small number of key geographic and thematic priorities over the following period. These are:

    —  Geographic:  Sierra Leone, Great Lakes (DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda), Angola, Sudan, Nigeria and South Africa;

    —  Thematic:  Tackling the economic and financial causes of conflict; Promoting Security Sector Reform; and Building African Peace Support capacity and mutual security.

  Individual strategies have been developed for all the geographic priorities and work on the thematic strategies will be completed by September 2002. Departments have formalised a process of analysing the conflict environment in Africa on a six monthly basis. This process also assists in reviewing Pool priorities and strategies.

(c)  A stronger UK contribution to international efforts

  The Pool arrangements represent a new way for governments to improve policy coordination in addressing conflict in Africa. They have attracted attention within the UK, with EC partners and internationally. The release of the "Causes of Conflict in sub-Saharan Africa" Framework Paper in 2001, and the policy dialogue that ensured, contributed to international policy discussions. The development and implementation of the geographical and thematic strategies has strengthened the UK's contribution to international efforts to prevent and reduce conflicts in Africa. The Pool arrangements have facilitated the dialogue with key international partners, including the US and France, on issues such as building African peace support capacity. They have also assisted the development of the G8 Action Plan for Africa—the UK was responsible for drafting the Discussion Document on the peace and security aspects of that plan.


  To improve awareness of the connection between the UK's contribution to conflict prevention and peacekeeping, the overall budget for the Africa Pool covers both Programmes and Peacekeeping elements. This enables Pool officials to closely monitor the balance of resources between these two elements. In FY 2001-02 the budget for the Africa Pool consisted of £50 million for conflict prevention/reduction programmes and an initial estimate of £52.3 million for UN peacekeeping.

  Ministers agreed to maintain an initial Reserve of £10 million from the total programme budget. This was used during the year to meet in-year requirements. The Reserve received a significant boost of £12 million of UNPROFOR reimbursements during the year. This payment from the UN covered, in part, the cost of the UK deployment of troops to the mission. Payment was made on receipt by the UN of a portion of the US arrears to the organisation. The total sum reflected the agreed division between the Africa and Global Pools. This was largely used to meet increases in peace support costs that amounted to £23.4 million. The largest share of Pool funding (programmes and peacekeeping) in the past year was directed to Sierra Leone (59 per cent) and the Great Lakes region (25 per cent).

  The peacekeeping budget is set annually on the basis of forecast commitments for the following financial year. The costs of peacekeeping can fluctuate significantly in-year. The original forecast for peacekeeping in the February 2001 was £52.3 million. During the financial year the forecast fluctuated significantly because of unexpected increases in the costs of peace support operations in the DRC (MONUC), Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and in Ethiopia/Eritrea (UNMEE). A final peacekeeping forecast amounting to £75.7 million was agreed in January 2002, for the Spring Supplementary Estimates—this represented an increased commitment of £23.4 million in excess of the original budget. The increased costs of peacekeeping were met by deploying part of the reserve from the programmes element of the Pool and use of the UNPROFOR receipts (mentioned in paragraph 5 above). Current estimates for peacekeeping costs in 2002-03 are £92 million. The increased forecast is largely due to projected increases for peace support operations in the DRC.


  The Africa Pool is managed by a Ministerial sub-Committee of the Cabinet Office, chaired by the Secretary of State for International Development. The Pool's remit was defined in the "Cross-Cutting Review of Conflict Prevention" (2000) to include all activities that are principally aimed to prevent and reduce conflict, and where a joint approach between the three departments would add value. The remit specifically excludes activities that indirectly contribute to conflict preventions such as human rights work, election monitoring, humanitarian and governance work (which are covered by individual Departments).

  The Pool is operated by a core secretariat of officials drawn from DFID, FCO, MOD, Cabinet Office and HMT. The Pooled arrangements aim to deliver on the specific Public Sector Agreement (PSA) target, set for all three spending Departments (DFID, FCO and MOD), of:

    "Improved effectiveness of the UK contribution to conflict prevention and management as demonstrated by a reduction in the number of people whose lives are affected by violent conflict and a reduction in potential sources of future conflict, where the UK can make a significant contribution."

  In 2001-02 Departments agreed a set of common management procedures to monitor progress, evaluate activities and deal with new proposals in-year, all of which has contributed to creating flexible and effective working arrangements.


  Over the next two years the Pool will reduce spending on low priority commitments that existed prior to April 2001. This will enable resources to be deployed more strategically to implement the UK strategies. Departments are also actively examining ways of enhancing synergy between both Pools (sub-Saharan Africa and Rest of the World). For example on areas such as strengthening the UN's conflict prevention capacity, security sector reform, and preventing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

  Overall, in its first year of operation the Africa Pool has fostered a more co-ordinated and potentially more cost-effective way for HMG to contribute to tackling conflict in Africa. The Pooled arrangements have helped to reduce transaction costs, increase cooperation between Departments and develop a more strategic UK approach to conflict prevention/reduction and peace support in Africa. We will undertake to keep you informed of progress in the next year.

  I am copying this letter to Tony Baldry MP, Bruce George MP, Martin O'Neill MP, Baroness AMOS (FCO), Adam Ingram (MOD), Paul Boateng, and Sir Richard Wilson.

21 May 2002

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