and International Relations. To this end I wish
you think conceptually about what we might mean by the phrase 'Fragile
state' - what features constitute 'fragility'?
And moreover, we might have a mull on how one might explain the process
of becoming fragile - what a theory of 'becoming a fragile state' could
look like - its dynamics!
a) Which - interacting - variables count?
b) What is the (process of) the sequence of variables (e.g. when A&B are present in the first
place (T1), then C occurs at T2)
c) How much (degree of influence/causation of A & B upon C etc) in
relation to each other? (e.g.
when A & B are co-present, have key but recognise their different
complementary competences, and do not continue to act as rivals...
then C. (e.g. electoral
success). Think of how the Tony Blair/Gordon Brown relationship back in
1995 looked and broadly was at the time...)
Three items for
C (1996). Africa and the International System: Politics of
State Survival; chps 1; 7-9.
Harbeson and Rothchild
(2009): Africa in World Politics: Reforming Political
8 The Privatization of Africaís
International Relations p.190
Harbeson Ch 14 Reconciling Sovereignty with
Responsibility: A Basis for International Humanitarian Action, p.345
of States in the context of IR
'positive' conceptions of the state, robustness and fragility.
What is the
we divorce States from the activity of politics?
'state' entail an idea of stability† or is it a space of politics
which in its nature is competitive, dynamic, involving struggles for power and
the distribution of power?
politics will always disrupt anymore settled idea of what a state should be?
then, there is a relation between Government and the State -
the state simply a succession of governments?..with an underlying broad
constitutional framework allowing for some measure
might this idea affect relations with other states and the AU or he UN?
where there has been state collapse?
"Buzan, as the 'idea of the state'.
States in this sense must be 'constructed' in the
minds of at least some of those who form them, including minimally those who
run them. This construction is in particular required in order to provide the
state with legitimacy, or in
other words, with a basis
in morality rather than merely force.
significantly involves an attempt to find some answer to two questions: the
first is why the state should exist in the form that it does = territorial
legitimacy; the second is why the group of people who rule it should have any
right to act on behalf of those who are merely its subjects or citizens =† as governmental legitimacy."
"Northedge †as 'a territorial association of people recognized for
purposes of law and
diplomacy as a legally equal member of the system of states/5
Though a state may be able to control its territory, and
even to achieve the loyalty of its population, it none the less needs this
recognition in order to participate in the international transactions"
weaker the state, in terms of its size and capabilities, its level of physical
control over its
and territory, and its ability or inability to embody an idea of the state
shared by its people, the greater the extent to which it will need to call on
external recognition and support."
the latter and perhaps the worse the form of government/leadership, what is the
bargaining power of such a state like? Weakness of leadership in the eyes of
the world (shame) suggests that any support will be offered on terms with which
the supplicant state cannot argue..and even in a world of
competition to be seen as sponsors, there are some states who almost beyond the
pale..but are desperate so will accept terms (if
only to let the leadership survive)...and any support state would act similarly
(i.e. would not offer a discount on terms.)
Fragile state as a mere titular power
structure whose grip on power and thereby effective governing is negligible.
then fragmentation via ethnic or other cleavage (Africa
and the UK
with the latter, is not the purposes of flags, anthems, symbols of legitimate
structured hierarchy connecting the top to the bottom essential to managing
cleavages and bringing the nation together...along with ideology (Nkrumah/Nyerere?)
legitimacy is measured by the public faith in the regime and not some
What are the various senses of 'Fragility'
simply because of the history, it has been easy to capture the measure of it as
essentially the likelihood of democracy being over-turned by say, a coup, an
armed intervention of some other type or one-party state/patrimonial or simply personalist leadership
but perhaps it should go
wider than this
because fragility is more
than a disruption to democracy
because it is not simply to
be understood within the terms of the performance of 'this' state alone but as
a characterisation attached to this or that state by other states and agencies
- that is to say, as a construction AND
as an identification/recognition of†
International politics affects these states and people in
ways that often differ appreciably from the ways in which it affects the people
and governments of more powerful states. In particular, even though states are
central to the understanding of international relations in the
'Third World' as elsewhere, states themselves are often very different
kinds of organisation from those that the conventional study of international
relations tends to take for granted. Their interactions, both with their own
populations and with other parts of the international system, correspondingly
differ as well.... A view of international politics from the bottom up may
therefore help, not only to illuminate
the impact of the global system on those who are least able to resist it,
how these states managed to survive
- for a period of some thirty-five years, in most cases, after formal
independence - within a global order dominated by states which were evidently
vastly more powerful than they (ibid. p.4)
So Fragility is to be diacritically
determined by its relation to the measures the african states took to
survive in the circumstances. But Clapham invites us to distinguish between States
and Leaders as to the agencies who increased or decreased survivability in a
As such fragility dos not necessarily
entail failure when viewed in IR context, but rather fragility is an incentive to† resist
And there may be a reason for this:
state survival is leadership survival
the great majority of cases, rulers seek to assure their personal survival by
seeking the survival and indeed strengthening of their states. They can on the
whole best protect their own security by preserving and enhancing the power of
the states...." (op.
But this may lead to a conception of the state (by the
leaders) that is one seen as necessarily rooted in control and power with an
underlying if not explicit system of security designed to ensure leadership
survival. (Clapham's 'shadow state')
But then state failure becomes a simple
matter of keeping afloat rather than going anywhere and thereby,
the classic ideas of state effectiveness
and indeed, even for African politics where the goals have been set since the
60s by bearers of foreign aid and later on, structural adjustment programmes
have been seen as a function of modernisation and
development and not simply 'any alternative to chaos'.
But at the level of the state itself as a
recognisable territory - there is a curious seeming paradox which is that the
worse the state of the state, the more it may attract international attention
and moreover intervention. (Zimbabwe)
unless is it so difficult to get at (DRC) b UN/journalists etc) that no matter how
bad, it goes by the wayside).
Clapham seems to rather interestingly point to
fragility in terms of what might be seen as weak sorts of 'foreign relations' -
non-state versions of it such as education abroad, refugee crises and so forth..which draw responses from other nations. As
such the weak state may gain from its weakness in the form of recognition and
support....whilst still being categorised as 'fragile'.
Fragility not just internal with external response but subject to
"...the stresses in superpower
relations of the 'Second Cold War' of the 1970s, which were particularly marked
in their effects on the Third World, the evident economic triumph of the
capitalist states in the 1980s (with its knock-on effects on Africa in the form
structural adjustment programmes), and the collapse of the Soviet Union and its allies after 1989. The overall effect of these
changes, both inside and outside Africa, was to make it increasingly difficult for African rulers
to use international support as a means of maintaining
both their states and their personal power, in the way that they
had been able to do with considerable success during the decade and a half or
so after independence." (op
Statehood and its recognition may be decided by changing
attitudes mixed with foreign policy considerations
The case of Rhodesia v Biafra - from none to some
recognition though both were identifiable states.
"Quasi-states are states which are recognised as
sovereign and independent units by other states within the international
system, but which cannot meet the demands of 'empirical' statehood, which
requires the capacity to exercise effective power within their own territories,
and be able to defend themselves against external attack. Such states have
'negative' or 'juridical' sovereignty, in that sovereignty is ascribed to them
by other states, but do not possess the 'positive sovereignty' which derives
from effective control." (p.15)
states tend to attract foreign support, especially† if they are believed to be able
to stand on their two feet with a bit of support.
support for the independence of weak states was necessary to realise the
principle of self-determination - broadly corresponding to territorial
legitimacy... welcome to the superpowers, as a mechanism for undermining the
previously dominant Western European colonial powers, and bringing into
existence a large number of new states over which they could seek to gain
formed the government of an internationally recognised state were able to make
alliances with other states, and to use their own domestic statehood as a
bargaining counter with which to attract resources, such as weapons or
development aid, which could enhance their ability to retain domestic control.
They were also in some degree insulated against the danger of attack by their
neighbours, and against the possibility that dissident groups within
their own territories might gain international support."
the case of African states, survival was best assured by a state firmly
attaching itself to a great power ally or protector. At other times, the best
strategy was to seek a balance - or in recent terminology 'non-alignment' -
between the major external forces..."
State decay in Africa: as the growth of
armed opposition movements against the state, posed a challenge not just to individual states, but to the
African international order as a whole.
Guerrilla movements, liberation struggles, or indeed as
private armies, terrorists or secessionist bandits = insurgencies.
Two regions of the continent, the Horn and
southern Africa, were particularly
affected by insurgent warfare, and in each case fostered a mass of competing
movements which interacted with the states of the region to exercise a powerful
effect on its international relations.
Insurgent warfare in other states,
including Chad, Uganda, Rwanda and Zaire in central and eastern Africa, and
Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa.
small but significant number of African governments came to power as a result
of insurgency; and two states, Liberia and Somalia, were destroyed by insurgent
movements which, fragmenting into numerous different factions, were unable to
establish any effective regime.
United States provided some aid to the FNLA in Angola before Portuguese withdrawal, this
was due simply to the need to find a counterweight to the Soviet-supported
MPLA, rather than to any commitment to liberation in itself.