Making States Work: State Failure and the Crisis of Governance

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Overview

In the wealth of literature on state failure, little attention has been paid to the questions of what constitutes state success and what enables a state to succeed. This book examines the strategies and tactics of international actors, local political elites, and civil society groups to build or rebuild public institutions before they reach the point of failure β€”to make the state work.

It is frequently assumed that the collapse of state structures leads to a vacuum of political power. This is rarely the case. Basic questions of how best to ensure physical and economic security don't disappear when the institutions of the state break down. Non-state actors in such situations may exercise political power over local populations to provide basic social services from education to medical care. Even where non-state actors exist as parasites, political life goes on.

How to engage in such an environment is a problem for policymakers in intergovernmental organizations and donor governments. But it poses far greater difficulties for the embattled state institutions and the populations of such territories. Making States Work examines how these various actors have responded to crises in the legitimacy and viability of state institutions, emphasizing situations in which the state has been salvaged or at least kept afloat.

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
The Bush administration's 2002 National Security Strategy asserted that "America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones." Unfortunately, a coherent and sustained way of responding to failing states remains elusive. This volume assembles a large cast of experts to map the dimensions of the challenge and explore the disparate experiences of weak and conflict-ridden states. Their key finding is not encouraging: states cannot be made to work from the outside. In cases where state failure has been overcome β€” Mozambique, Costa Rica, Singapore β€” history, culture, and the actions of local groups were as important as any international involvement. Thus, the editors conclude, outside actors can do little to shape the fortunes of failing states. What leverage they do have, meanwhile, is most effective when it is tailored to local needs and channeled through local hands.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789280811070
  • Publisher: United Nations University Press and the International Peace Academy
  • Publication date: 3/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Chesterman is global professor and director of the New York University School of Law Singapore Program, Singapore. Michael Ignatieff is Carr Professor of Human Rights Practice and the director of human rights policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Ramesh Thakur is a distinguished fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and professor of political science at the University of Waterloo, Canada. He previously served as senior vice-rector of the United Nations University and assistant secretary general of the United Nations.

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