Chris Blattman has a great post giving pointers to donors engaging with weakened states. He calls them ‘fragile states’ though and I wonder whether some of those fragile states might be failing or failed states even. But of course, that’s an endless debate – of semantics and otherwise.
In sum, fully agree that investing in state capacity should be a priority for donors. And weak states attempting to take control of their territories and people should be given the chance to establish themselves. There is of course no doubt that it is not only donors that can make a difference.
However, from the advice that Chris has for donors, I have a few questions pertaining to post-conflict states –
- Before deciding to strengthen the hand of the state – how does the international community determine if the current regime adequately represents the local population? Moreover, the international community is not homogeneous – each government/agency will have their own interests to protect/advance. And if the current regime doesn’t represent the majority, isn’t there a risk that strengthening law and order systems or implementing CDD might cause more harm than good?
- Countries like India have an entrenched bureaucracy capable of resisting changing political winds to a large extent. In a post-conflict situation, that’s not quite the typical scenario? Of course, to argue either that the bureaucracy has to be strengthened first or the political rulers might be a circular argument
- What about core infrastructure? Roads, public transport, banking etc? Are there good strategies to develop these capacities in a post-conflict state?