The Tragedy of Failure: Evaluating State Failure and Its Impact on the Spread of Refugees, Terrorism, and War

The Tragedy of Failure: Evaluating State Failure and Its Impact on the Spread of Refugees, Terrorism, and War

The Tragedy of Failure: Evaluating State Failure and Its Impact on the Spread of Refugees, Terrorism, and War

The Tragedy of Failure: Evaluating State Failure and Its Impact on the Spread of Refugees, Terrorism, and War

Synopsis

This intriguing approach to international conflict seeks to facilitate a dialogue between academics and policymakers on how to better anticipate and prevent state failure, subsequent forced migration, and the terrorist threat that often results.

• Includes case studies of failed and failing states, including Somalia, Pakistan, Colombia, Haiti, and Sudan

• Provides maps of Sudan, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, and Somali showing the terrorist cells present in these states

• A broad-based bibliography of sources from international conflict studies, refugee and migration, and terrorism studies

Excerpt

Research has found that “[state failure events, such as] internal wars and political upheavals are the antecedents of most humanitarian emergencies” (Harff and Gurr 1998, 553). Although scholars studying humanitarian emergencies, such as forced migration, may not have the ability to precisely predict their occurrence, there is research available that suggests that with the onset of episodes of state crisis, humanitarian emergencies can be anticipated (Melson 1992; Fein 1993; Gurr 1994; Jenkins and Schmeidl 1995; Licklider 1995; Rummel 1995a; Krain 1997). Therefore, with the occurrence of each episode of state failure, there is the expectation that a humanitarian crisis will inevitably emerge.

A state is said to have “failed” when its governing structures have collapsed and when it is no longer able to provide public goods to its citizens. In this volume, I understand state failure as a process that occurs in two discrete stages: one in which a state can be said to be failing and is in decline, or one in which it has reached the point of complete breakdown. One group of scholars, the State Failure Task Force, has come to operationalize a definition of state failure as the presence of any one of four types of conflict: ethnic war, revolutionary war, oppressive regimes, and genocide or politicide (see Appendices C, D, E, F). When such an event occurs, the state is failing. The state failure literature also asserts that these violent conflicts have commonalities that can help us to better understand what leads to the breakdown of a nation-state. Although this volume diverges sharply from the existing definitions of state failure presented in the literature, the early state failure research lets us begin to explore the relationship between state collapse and forced migration.

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