Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
17 February 2023

Development, Welfare and Democracy in Fragile Contexts

A two-day colloquium explored the pressing risks and possible ways forward in fragile contexts.

What are the structural and conjunctural factors that have the greatest incidence in the formation and exacerbation of contexts of fragility? On 1 and 2 February, the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy, along with desco (Peru) and Fundación Parcomún (Colombia), hosted an international conference that sought to answer this question and explore the pressing risks in fragile contexts.

Gathering scholars from multiple territorial and disciplinary perspectives, the colloquium sought to produce theoretical and applied knowledge for better development, welfare, and democracy practices in fragile contexts in the Global South and North. These are understood as those that concentrate on vulnerable populations, due to climate change, economic and energy crises, supply chain breakdowns, poverty, the weakening of liberal democracies, pandemics, and endemics.

Participants explored the challenges brought by this context in three thematic roundtables on, respectively, environment, governance, and social movements. Presentations touched on, inter alia: conflict because of a lack of or inadequate public policy; poor governance leading to fragmentation of interests and identities; and how market-led logics contribute to multiple forms of fragility. While presentations often looked at regional and local expressions of fragility, these also made connections with transnational phenomena.

The colloquium concluded with a public event on 2 February featuring Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Gilles Carbonnier, during which rapporteurs from all three thematic roundtables offered a summary of presentations and discussions.

This conference was organized with the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Swiss Society of Americanists (SSA) and the Development Policies and Practices Executive Education Program (DPP).