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Symposium 2009

Solution for Repairing Failed States

The Challenge

In a number of territories primarily situated in the poorer parts of the world, the state no longer performs its basic security and development functions. Beyond causing hardship for their own citiz ...

In a number of territories primarily situated in the poorer parts of the world, the state no longer performs its basic security and development functions. Beyond causing hardship for their own citizens, failed states provide breeding grounds of organized crime and terrorism.

Invest into research on the local socio-political context and unify donor assistance to leverage local capacities and social relationships to promote state-building.

Donors and international players pursue their own agendas when engaging with a failed state. These agendas do not necessarily include building or stabilizing a state as an explicit goal. There is typically no unified effort to support one powerful party. Rather, assistance goes to a number of stakeholders, further undermining the strength of the central government. Identifying local leaders and supporting them is essential to strengthening the state.

Most Western policy-makers and practitioners today pay lip service to the idea that states will not prosper unless they are built by local people using local resources, but the great majority of development projects continue to be implemented with inadequate attention to the local social, cultural, and institutional context. Appropriate investments for a better understanding of the local context are needed.

States cannot be made to work from the outside. International assistance may be necessary, but it is never sufficient to fix fragile states. Instead of seeking to impose a Western-style blueprint unsuitable for local conditions, international action should be first and foremost about encouraging the creation of governing institutions that better leverage or help form the cohesive societies necessary to promote development on their own. States work effectively when they are a logical reflection of their underlying socio-political, historical, geographical, human resource, and economic environments, and when they are deeply integrated with the societies they purport to represent, able to harness the informal institutions and loyalties of their citizens.

Foreign assistance needs to complement and reinforce local capacities and institutions and be disciplined enough to avoid undermining or warping locally driven arrangements, which is all too common today, especially with the  tendencyof so many international programs to focus on financial aid targets, poverty reduction targets, and the importation of generic and typically centralized state models.

The international community therefore needs think much more creatively about how to better leverage local capacities and social relationships in how it seeks to repair countries that do not work.

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    Transform aid delivery by establishing trust funds co-managed by the state and donors, developing sector-wide approaches where donors pool funds, and giving management of sector programs to the local government.

    Transform aid delivery by establishing trust funds co-managed by the state and donors, developing sector-wide approaches where donors pool funds, and giving management of sector programs to the local ...

    Transform aid delivery by establishing trust funds co-managed by the state and donors, developing sector-wide approaches where donors pool funds, and giving management of sector programs to the local government.

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    Target donor assistance and support at promoting economic production, especially in agriculture.

    Target donor assistance and support at promoting economic production, especially in agriculture.

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