What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Footage from Pakistan
British tabloids picked up the story, not too surprisingly, nevertheless it relates to the focus of this blog. Filmed in Pakistan, the shortest mujahed. I hope this was not filmed before some kind of special martyrdom operation.
A conceptualisation of state failure in a nutshell
Hello, this is Péter Marton speaking. Let me say a few words here about what on Earth I'm referring to in the title of this blog I launched in 2007. This is due here for the attention of those, too, who might have read the greater part of the literature on state failure. One should, after all, make it clear what one means by what one says. *** Reflecting the dual nature of the discourse, we can view states that are dysfunctional in one sense or another both with humanitarian and security concerns - in the most simple alternative terms: with concern for 'them' (the locals) and with concern for 'ourselves' ('over here'). That is the key to my conceptualisation. In e.g. Rotberg (2003, 2004) you'll find a mixed approach with security concerns voiced in the title of the volume of studies published in 2003 ('State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror'), and humanitarian concerns voiced in basically all the studies included in it. *** I define state failure as a phenomenon with the analogy of 'market failures' in mind. Just like an instance of market failure doesn't constitute an overall failure of the market as an institution, state failure doesn't necessarily mean the end or full absence of the state. *** From a security point of view I conceptualise the state as 'a unit responsible for territorial control over a unit of world territory bounded by internationally recognised borders.' It is thus the failure of that unit when events or processes can take place within its boundaries that produce negative security consequences or 'negative spill-over effects' (NSEs) for the outside world (a neighbouring state or region or even all the states in the world, potentially). That may also be termed an 'IRG-failure,' the failure of the Internationally Recognised Government of the given state. It's a vital element that IRG-failure be contrary to the will of the IRG (which should be either unable to stop it from happening or be incapable of significantly hampering it). This way of defining state failure builds on the premise that security is globally interdependent - hence the definition of the 'chief function of the state' here is presented the way it is. *** From a humanitarian point of view, I regard the state as 'the means for the population of a unit of world territory, inhabiting the area bounded by internationally recognised borders, to provide stable life prospects for the long run'. The humanitarian definition of state failure will thus be quite broad - which may restrict its analytical usefulness. It will cover civil war-torn states, extremely poor states, as well as authoritarian regimes that use a lot of arbitrary violence. It will exclude states that provide stability in one way or another - using Michael Nicholson's terms, these can either be ruled by an authoritarian regime producing 'coercive stability' or governed by a democratic regime producing 'consensual stability'.
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