Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World

The international community has struggled without much success to remedy the problem of failed states. Meanwhile, 40 or 50 countries around the world — from Sudan and Somalia to Kosovo and East Timor — remain in a crisis of governance. In this impressive book, Ghani, a former Afghan finance minister, and Lockhart, who has worked at the World Bank and the United Nations, assess the missteps and offer a new framework for coordinated action. They argue that international responses have failed because they have been piecemeal and have proceeded with little understanding of what states need to do in the modern world system to connect citizens to global flows. They advocate a “citizen-based approach.” State-building strategies would be organized around a “double compact”: between country leaders and the international community, on the one hand, and country leaders and citizens, on the other. The book also proposes methods for the generation of comparative data on state capacity — a “sovereignty index” — to be annually reported to the UN and the World Bank. Ultimately, this study offers a surprisingly optimistic vision. The fact that so many disadvantaged countries have made dramatic economic and political transitions over the last decade suggests that developmental pathways do exist — if only the lessons and practical knowledge of local circumstances can be matched to coordinated and sustained international efforts. The authors provide a practical framework for achieving these ends, supporting their case with first-hand examples of struggling territories such as Afghanistan, Sudan, Kosovo and Nepal as well as the world’s success stories–Singapore, Ireland, and even the American South.

Religion, Pragmatic Fundamentalism and the Transformation of the Northern Ireland Conflict

Since 11 September 2001, the religious dimension of conflict has been the focus of increasing attention. In The Clash of Civilizations, Huntington has identified the West in religious–cultural terms, as Christian with a dominant democratic culture emphasizing tolerance, moderation and consensus. The persistence of conflict in Northern Ireland among `White’ Protestant and Catholic Christians undermines this simplistic argument and demands a more subtle understanding of the role of religion and fundamentalism in contemporary conflict. Modernization theory — which is echoed among some theorists of globalization — had predicted the declining importance of religion as the world became industrialized and increasingly interconnected. This is echoed by those who argue that the Northern Ireland conflict is `ethno-national’ and dismiss the role of religion. On the other hand, others have claimed that the conflict is religious and stress the role of Protestant fundamentalism. This article draws on new evidence from Northern Ireland of the complex and subtle ways in which religion impacts on the conflict there, incorporating insights about the pragmatism of fundamentalist Protestants and how religious actors are contributing to conflict transformation. This analysis leads to three broader conclusions about understanding conflicts with religious dimensions. First, the complexity of religion must be understood, and this includes a willingness to recognize the adaptability of fundamentalisms to particular contexts. Second, engaging with fundamentalists and taking their grievances seriously opens up possibilities for conflict transformation. Third, governments and religious actors within civil society can play complementary roles in constructing alternative (religious) ideologies and structures as part of a process of transformation. In a world in which the impact of religion is persistent, engaging with the religious dimension is a vital part of a broader-based strategy for dealing with conflict.

A Bottom-Up Approach to Transformative Justice in Northern Ireland

This article explores community-based restorative justice projects run by political exprisoners and former combatants in Northern Ireland, initiatives which are dealing with everyday crime and conflict in local communities in a period of transition. It is argued that restorative justice can act as a facilitator, both for individuals within the community and between communities and the state, when violence-supporting norms are expected to be replaced by nonviolent approaches to conflict and its resolution. The article also argues for a greater role for criminological approaches to crime, punishment and justice within transitions, recognising the strengths of criminology to address underlying causes of continued violence in postconflict settings. In particular, this article investigates attempts by these initiatives to build bridges between historically estranged communities and the police, and argues for the possibility of restorative justice becoming a catalyst for transformative justice during times of rapid social change.

Civil War Peace Agreement Implementation and State Capacity

Negotiated civil war terminations differ from their interstate war counterparts in that one side must disarm and cease to exist as a fighting entity. While termination through military victory provides a relatively more enduring peace, many civil wars end with peace agreements signed after negotiations. However, research has shown that the implementation of civil war peace agreements is difficult and prone to collapse. Often these failures are followed by recurrence of the conflict. In some cases, the agreements break down before key provisions are implemented. This article adds to this topic by focusing on the role of state capacity in peace agreement success. We argue that peace agreements and state capacity are necessary but not sufficient conditions for sustainable peace. The article employs a case study approach to explore the importance of state capacity in implementing civil war peace agreements. The role of third-party interventions is also considered. The cases (United Kingdom-Northern Ireland, Indonesia-Aceh, Burundi, Mali, and Somalia) include 14 peace agreements that vary by war type (secessionist or control over government), type of agreement (comprehensive or partial), levels of state capacity (high or low), and peace success (success, partial or failure), and each experienced third-party involvement in the peace process.