State Failure and Fragile States

State Failure and Fragile States

State Failure

State Failure: Reframing the International Economic and Political Agenda
May 9-10, 2005. The Graduate Center, City University of New York

The international security agenda is now focused on state failure — its prevention, the roots of fragility, and international interventions to restore collapsed states after war. The problem, however, is that the concept of state failure is vague, even tautological; the goals and targets of the new agenda are unclear; and the concept is based on particular models of the state and policy prescriptions that may well be the cause of state fragility and the international-security threats assigned to state failure. This project applies a critical lens on the concept of state failure and on the models of the state on which it is based, and undertakes serious empirical research on state failure and international responses with the aim of proposing policy alternatives.

The purposes of the workshop were:

1. to take stock of the research response provoked thus far by the concept of state failure/fragility in the new international security agenda: what we think has been accomplished, where it is heading, what alternative, critical perspectives need to be considered, and whether there are directions for future research that we want to encourage;
2. to begin and nurture a conversation among us, and particularly across the North-South divide, about the consequences of this policy agenda and the role that research can play.

In preparation for the workshop, several participants from academic and policy communities drafted memos for the group to discuss. These memos can be downloaded in PDF format below:

Professor Susan L. Woodward, Director, Program on States and Security, The Graduate Center, CUNY, 2005. Introduction to the Workshop “State Failure: Reframing the International Economic and Political Agenda.”

Stephen Baranyi , Conflict Prevention, North-South Institute, Ottawa, 2005. Thoughts for Further Research on Official Development Assistance in Fragile States.

Mark Taylor, Deputy Managing Director, FAFO, Oslo, 2005. The Problem of State.

David Sogge , Independent researcher and consultant, Amsterdam, 2005. The Aid System and State Fragility.

Juan G. Tokatlian, Director, Ciencia Politica y Relaciones Internationales, Universidad de San Andrés, Argentina, 2005. Only Joint Action Can Counter Andean Tensions.