„Stay Engaged“ statt „Let Them Fail“ : Ein Literaturbericht über entwicklungspolitische Debatten in Zeiten fragiler Staatlichkeit

At the beginning of the 21st century, fragile statehood has become a defining issue for development policy. The implications that a lack of state capacity has for development are manifold, including threats to physical security, an ineffective public administration, and a lack of basic social services (e.g. in education, health, and energy). As a result, standard methods of development cooperation are faced with the challenge of how to adapt to these „difficult partnerships“. Accordingly, donors have been engaged in a major debate which has been going on at least since 2001. Among the key actors of this debate have been the World Bank, the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) as well as various national governments. The discussion is based on three assumptions shared by these contributors: (1) Political conditionality is of little use when dealing with fragile states, (2) The mid‐ to long‐term goals of cooperation are supporting reform processes and building state capacity, and (3) Innovative approaches employing non‐ and sub‐state actors as local partners have to be explored. This report provides a survey of the debate, outlining the central characteristics of the individual approaches and showing their commonalities, strengths and deficits. After situating the issue of fragile statehood in current world politics, we discuss the concepts and approaches of five central donors: the World Bank, OECD/DAC, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany. This serves to give a brief history of the debate and points out similarities and differences between the various positions. Having discussed the political debate, we then turn to the academic discourse. Here, we first discuss the transition literature which mainly focused on weak states in Central and Eastern Europe as well as research on governance (in particular the World Governance Survey). We find that these strands of research have relevant contributions to make to the policy debate which have hitherto received little attention outside of academia. In our conclusion, we discuss possible avenues for further research.


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