The Plight of Refugees in Post-Conflict Development: The Struggle to Rebuild Shattered Hopes & Dreams


  • Ken Bacon, President Refugees International
  • Ameerah Haq, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, UNDP
  • George Rupp, President and CEO, The International Rescue Committee
  • Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General, Dept of Comm. & Public Information
  • With an introduction by Caroline Baron, Founder, FilmAid International

With nearly a quarter of the world’s population facing crisis or post-conflict situations—and an estimated 90 percent of fragile peace agreements in danger of collapsing within their first year—the dramatic need for increased action and funding by the international community is abundantly clear. While there is widespread consensus that it is necessary to link development, conflict prevention, and post-conflict recovery for optimal results, difficult core questions remain as to the most effective means for the implementation of such efforts.

Over the past few decades, it has become evident that the nature of post-conflict reconstruction efforts should be predicated upon the nature of the conflict itself. Unlike wars of the past that have pitted professional armies of sovereign states against one another, the violent conflicts plaguing today’s world are mostly civil wars waged by combatants with little formal military training who are often nationals of the same country. This privatization of violence and the localization of war have led to the targeting of civilian populations, which are being killed or displaced at alarming rates.

The legacy of such civil wars fought by informal combatants in militarized and divided societies with weak and often corrupt state governments necessitates a qualitatively different type of reconstruction effort. Although revitalizing the economy, stabilizing financial arrangements, rebuilding physical infrastructure, and providing services such as health and education remain important objectives, greater emphasis needs to be placed on people, particularly in terms of providing basic needs, healing psychological wounds, rebuilding social capital, and reintegrating displaced persons into their communities.