Final Report

Meeting the Challenges of Crisis States 
James Putzel and Jonathan DiJohn

Full Report| 
Executive Summary of the Report|

This report sums up six years of research by the Crisis States Research Centre.   Authors James Putzel and Jonathan Di John underline the fact that aid and other forms of external intervention need to be better directed in the so-called "fragile states" of the developing world.   The authors argue that confusion permeates Western aid programmes in countries where states either face escalating violent challenges or are attempting reconstruction and state-building in the wake of war.

The report, which includes country and city case studies in Africa, Asia and Latin America and analysis of regional conflict trends, looks into the drivers of violent conflict in the developing world and why some states and cities have fared better than others in avoiding large-scale violence or in rebuilding public and private organisations after war. It highlights policy-relevant findings under seven thematic chapters.

Key messages in the report include:

Donor attempts to promote democratic or market reforms can lead to violence

Research found that sometimes toleration of corruption, unproductive rents and less than democratic governments has actually been the price of peace. “Good governance” reforms promoted by aid agencies need to take into account existing elite bargains or they may have unintended negative outcomes on democratic and developmental possibilities.

Military Interventions Often Have Made Democracy Less Rather than More Likely

In findings relevant to the current situation in Libya and Syria, a large quantitative study of military interventions in the developing world over the past sixty years found that whatever their intentions they tended to make democracy and development more difficult to achieve in the long run.

Failures to Prioritise Security in State-building Threaten to Undermine Aid Efforts

Comparative studies in Sub-Saharan Africa demonstrated that where the state’s own security forces are weak or where the state cannot maintain power without unleashing violence against its own population, as is currently the case in the DRC, external efforts need to put the construction of accountable security forces ahead of other aid programmes.

Cities have become major sites of violent conflict and state-building after war and deserve much greater attention from international aid organisations

The concentration of high-value economic activity in the cities of fragile states makes them central to state-building. Urban violence often written off as criminal activity is usually highly political, while both elites and social movements capable of securing progressive reforms are most likely to emerge in cities.

Understanding the organisational mechanisms and incentive structures of armed rebel groups is essential to finding a route to peace.

Research in Afghanistan and Colombia demonstrates why a knowledge and appreciation of the different motivational incentives and patterns of organisation among armed groups will be central to current efforts to strike peace agreements. The report summarises extensive research on Afghanistan and Colombia that points to the need to engage constructively with organisations like the Taliban and the FARC if peace is to become a reality.

Donor aid programmes in fragile states have not focussed enough on promoting economic production

Comparative country and city studies demonstrate the need for donors to back efforts among developing country officials to elaborate production strategies that can foster accelerated economic growth. Greater resources need to be directed to programmes to formalise and regulate informal economic activities, both to scale up growth and eliminate the possibility of using these sectors as sites of finance for violent challenges to legitimate states.

Western donors need to support the creation of taxation capacity in developing country states

The report provides plenty of evidence supporting DFID’s new policy of putting resources into the creation of taxation capacity in the states receiving UK development assistance. Taxation is a key indicator for measuring state performance and taxation can be deployed to promote investment in sectors with developmental potential.

An extended introduction and executive summary at the outset of the report summarise its many findings on the political, economic and social dynamics of fragile states. They present new challenges to Western donors attempting to navigate the treacherous waters of conflict-prone states.

for further information about the report or to obtain a hard copy, please contact the authors at:   csp <at> lse.ac.uk

 

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