Understanding Post-Conflict Aid and its Importance? By: Sapphira Thompson-Bled


          So long as conflict continues to exist and nations free from conflict remain in the position to help, post-conflict aid should be offered to those in need and to support conflict-stricken nations in their re-entry as participating states in the international sphere. To qualify for post-conflict aid there must first be a conflict to respond to. As such, there would be an intra-state conflict, a conflict within the country between the government and another armed group also referred to as a civil war, or an inter-state conflict, also known as a war between states.

           While both of these conflicts are threatening to a state’s security and their populations’ safety, academics specify that civil wars lead to large scale destruction and dislocation (Suhrke, Villanger, Woodward, 2005, p.340). Similarly, the World Bank identifies intra-state conflicts as a form of ‘development in reverse’ because they suggest that conflicts have the capability of inciting results that directly contradict the core purpose of aid (Donaubauer, Herzer & Nunnenkamp, 2019, p.721). As such, the term ‘development in reverse’ is applicable because during conflicts there is a decrease in non-military expenditures to develop social and economic infrastructure. Moreover, social and economic funding are reallocated for military purposes which consequently affects infrastructure negatively (Donaubauer et al., 2019, p.721).

         The need for post-conflict aid appears to have become more applicable in contemporary society based on the increase in aid given to conflict-affected and fragile states (Donaubauer et al., 2019, p.732). The need for post-conflict aid also correlates with the amount of funding allocated towards these areas. In the 1990s, it was reported that a total of $100 billion was spent on aid for 3 dozen nations following the conflicts that occurred (Kang & Meernik, 2004, p.152). Likewise, foreign aid has been implemented at an increasing rate shown in statistics from the 1996-1998 time period compared to the 2006-2008 time period (Donaubauer et al., 2019, p.720). In response to the ability for post-conflict aid to have a positive and lasting impact in war torn countries, this blog will elaborate upon the importance of post-conflict aid and what motivates states to offer it.

What is Post-Conflict Aid?

            Post-conflict aid differs from development aid in that the latter contributes to domestic savings and boosts long term investment and growth, it also helps lower poverty (Demekas, McHugh & Kosma, 2002, p.3). Similarly, development aid is more stable and occurs at lower costs than post-conflict aid, for example according to official development assistance statistics from 1995-2000, aid for low-income countries was between 2.5% and 3% of their Gross National Income (Demekas et al., 2002, p.3). Meanwhile, at its core post-conflict aid seeks to fulfill humanitarian and development goals in former combat zones. The humanitarian goal relates to providing assistance during humanitarian emergencies, examples of which are displacement and the loss of shelter(p.3). On the other hand, the reconstructive goal refers to donor contributions to repairing and rebuilding infrastructure which may include roads, waterways, energy, communication networks, or public services like security, law enforcement, or public health (p.3). This also relates to the idea of road rehabilitation which advocates for the need to invest in infrastructure so the private sector can recover and to create employment (Donaubauer et al., 2019, p.723). Furthermore, academics suggest that conflict nations with an open economy adjust better to foreign aid because their familiarity with international aid and international markets increases their ability to accept and adapt to the aid. So, it is suggested that these nations generally receive more assistance from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (Kang & Meernik, 2004, p.155).

Why is Post-Conflict Aid so Important?

            Post-conflict aid plays an important role in the world’s reaction to conflict because it has the ability to address humanitarian concerns and to contribute to the redevelopment of another nation that will eventually participate in the international community in ways that may also benefit donor countries. First, as a positive contribution, post-conflict aid contributes to repairing and rebuilding the economy to function at a productive level, and this may also include an efficient level where resources are not wasted and are instead employed to the maximum (Demekas, 2002, p.4). Aid also has the ability to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) amongst other forms of investment where states simultaneously demonstrate good governance and the potential for financial market development (Garriga & Philips, 2014, p.283). Although, investors also search for information about the country’s economy and aid concessions that may have been made because this also indicates how credible the government is (Garriga & Philips, 2014, p.283-285). Moreover aid serves as an expensive example of the donor state’s dedication and trust in recipient states and governments (Garriga & Philips, 2014, p.283-285).

        As a preventative contribution, post-conflict aid has the ability to intervene when citizens are arguably most desperate and thus willing engage in criminality, some of which would comprise of rent-seeking behaviour, a form of behaviour that includes engaging in bribery in reaction to the scarcity of resources (p.3). Likewise, post-conflict aid has the ability to discourage a relapse into conflict and the threat of terrorism by supporting education, health care, civil society, and conflict prevention (Kadirova, 2014, p.888). Academics also explain that post-conflict aid promotes peace, but unfortunately this occurs at decreasing returns to scale, which suggests that the inputs will eventually be greater than the results (Donaubauer et al., 2019, p.723). Along similar lines, in some cases donor states offer aid to force parties to end the conflict and negotiate peace (Meininghaus, 2016, p.1457).

        The need for post-conflict aid is also reemphasized in the World Bank’s World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Developmentwhen they describe conflict torn countries as more likely to experience malnourishment, unsanitary water, inadequate education and higher child mortality rates (Donaubauer et al., 2019, p.721). Furthermore, some academics reiterate the importance of restoring heritage to ensure societal reconstruction. As such, they argue that reconstructing churches, temples, mosques and other historical buildings protects the community and helps move towards reconciliation (Higueras, 2013, p.95-97). An example of this is the importance of reconstructing the Ottoman bridge of Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina for Muslims, the Turkish state and the international community (Higueras, 2013, p.97). While aid had previously conformed more to the Western idea of aid and neoliberal development, which is often in favour of free-market capitalism, aid is now beginning to adapt to different cultures and regions in response to the influence of different religions and other major donors, like China and Russia (Meininghaus, 2016, p.1457).

What Motivates States to Provide Post-Conflict Aid?

            Although states provide aid based on good intentions, they are also influenced by state interests. Subsequently, humanitarian aid is used for military purposes or to gain support in certain regions (Meininghaus, 2016, p.1466). To the United States of America (US), like with many other states, national security goals offer strong explanations for their decision to aid or not, such as with cases related to military presence in the country, a country bordering a communist country, or a US ally (Kang & Meernik, 2004, p.151-152). This behaviour is also described as representing geostrategic reasons, which refers to global security concerns, however, because of the US’s status as the world’s hegemon and their international military presence, this standard is particularly important (Garriga & Philips, 2014, p.286). It is also suggested that the US uses aid to buy votes in the UN Security Council where non-permanent members get 59% more US aid (Garriga & Philips, 2014, p.286). Nevertheless, in spite of their intentions being questioned, the US remains the world’s highest aid contributor (p.286).

        Moreover, it is suggested that OECD states are more likely to offer aid when there is a chance to spread democracy, and they expect democratic countries to offer more economic opportunities to their private sector (Kang, 2004, p.155). Notwithstanding, some donor states expect recipients to meet certain criteria to qualify for aid because this better supports its successful implementation.


            Syria will soon be in need of post-conflict aid because of the large-scale damages that have resulted from the war. It is suggested that 13.5 million people require aid, 1.7 million people live in shelters or camps, and in addition to this there are also reports of malnourishment, wide spread disease, lack of sanitation, and many people are developing mental illnesses as a result of the trauma (Meininghaus, 2016, p.112). Additionally, because citizens were traditionally so reliant on government social services, being without these services has only contributed to the extreme poverty where now more than half of the population live in poverty (Meininghaus, 2016, p.1460 & 1466).


            Without post-conflict aid, the pain and suffering that result from conflict would be prolonged for many people and may even incentivize more conflict. One of the academics claims that “[t]he goal of humanitarian aid cannot be to resolve the crisis, but it is to safeguard the survival of those in need. A credible claim to neutrality is its only means to protection” (Meininghaus, 2016, p.120) and this suggests the importance of aid being provided without discrimination and equally. As such, although state interests are important when deciding whether or not to provide aid, states should still prioritize humanitarian rights and providing post-conflict aid is one way this can be done.



Demekas, D.G., McHugh, J., & Kosma, T. (2002). The Economics of Post Conflict Aid. International Monetary Fund Working Paper. Working Paper. Retrieved from https://www-elibrary-imf-org.proxy.bib.uottawa.ca/doc/IMF001/06909-9781451860078/06909-9781451860078/Other_formats/Source_PDF/06909-9781451905434.pdf

Donaubauer, J., Herzer, D., & Nunnenkamp, P. (2019). The Effectiveness of Aid under Post-Conflict Conditions: A Sector-Specific Analysis. The Journal of Development Studies, 55(4), 720-736. Retrieved from https://journals-scholarsportal-info.proxy.bib.uottawa.ca/pdf/00220388/v55i0004/720_teoaupcasa.xml

Garriga, A. C., & Philips, B.J. (2014). Foreign Aid as a Signal to Investors: Predicting FDI in Post-Conflict Countries. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 58(2), 280-306. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002712467937.

Higueras, A. (2013). Aid and Reconstruction of Heritage in the Context of Post-Conflict Societies. Journal of the World Archaeological Congress, 9(1), 91-105. doi: 10.1007/s11759-013-9224-5

Kadirova, D. (2014). Implementation of Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Aid Initiatives: Evidence from Afghanistan. Journal of International Development, 26(6), 887-914. doi: 10.1002/jid

Kang, S., & Meernik, J. (2004). Determinants of Post-Conflict Economic Assistance. Journals of Peace Research, 41(2), 149-166. Retrieved from https://journals-scholarsportal-info.proxy.bib.uottawa.ca/pdf/00223433/v41i0002/149_dopea.xml

Meininghaus, E. (2016). Humanitarianism in intra-state conflict: aid inequality and local governance in government- and opposition-controlled areas in the Syrian War. Third World Quarterly, 37(8), 1454-1482. Retrieved from https://journals-scholarsportal-info.proxy.bib.uottawa.ca/pdf/01436597/v37i0008/1454_hiicaioaitsw.xml

Suhrke, A., Villanger, E., & Woodward, S.L. (2005). Analysis: Economic aid to post-conflict countries: a methodological critique of Collier and Hoeffler. Conflict, security, development, 5(3), 329-361. Retrieved from https://journals-scholarsportal-info.proxy.bib.uottawa.ca/pdf/14678802/v05i0003/329_eatpcamcocah.xml