When States Fail: Causes and Consequences

When States Fail: Causes and Consequences

When States Fail: Causes and Consequences

When States Fail: Causes and Consequences


"A fine collection of papers on state failure and rebuilding. There is not a weak contribution in the lot. There is much in this book to enrich the debate on the topic and its various aspects."--I. William Zartman, Johns Hopkins University, author of "Ripe for Resolution" and editor of "Collapsed States"

"The contributions to this volume are well-written studies that meet quite demanding criteria of scholarship. They provide coherent analysis on the causes and indicators of state failure as well as the repair of failing or failed states."--Raimo Vayrynen, University of Notre Dame and University of Helsinki


The Harvard University Failed States Project sought to learn how best to assess and to categorize the modern phenomenon of imploding nationstates. What were the distinguishing characteristics of state failure and state collapse in the post–Cold War world? Did state failure and collapse matter? If they did, how could state failure and collapse be prevented? How could the humpty dumpty of destroyed and fractured states, once disintegrated, be put back together?

Led by the World Peace Foundation and the WPF Program on Intrastate Conflict in the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, the project enlisted the accomplished collaboration of more than forty gifted scholars and practitioners, nearly all of whom produced one or more (sometimes many more) versions of essays on the failed state problem or on examples of failed states. After a preliminary session at Wilton Park, in Great Britain, in 1999, the project convened three lengthy meetings at the Kennedy School from 2000 to 2001. The papers presented at those meetings, and the discussions about the topics and papers, eventually were transformed into the fourteen revised chapters in this book, and a complementary set of eleven revised country chapters in a companion volume: Robert I. Rotberg (ed.) State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror (Washington, D.C., 2003).

The present volume includes an opening chapter that attempts to provide a classification and context for state failure. It is followed by two sets of chapters, the first on the nature and correlates of failure, the second on methods of preventing state failure and reconstructing those states that do fail.

The contributors to both volumes, the editor, and the Trustees of the World Peace Foundation all hope that these writings will focus deserved scholarly and policy attention upon and provide appropriate assistance to failed and collapsed states, to weak states in danger of becoming failed, and to those already failed states that are ready to be rebuilt. The inhabitants of the weak, failing, failed, and collapsed states will readily recognize themselves and their challenges in the chapters that follow.

In addition to the chapter contributors, all of whom labored hard and long to produce accessible and up-to-date path-breaking essays, the editor remains thoroughly grateful for Karin von Hippel’s original stimulus, for the critical interventions of James Gow, Robert Orr, Richard Ullman, and Leonard Wantchekon, for Jean Mulot’s helpful ideas, for the ability to discuss this topic before audiences convened by the Council on Foreign . . .

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