Fragile Statehood, Armed Non-State Actors and Security Governance
Ulrich Schneckener – 2006
In the modern world, the state – at least in theory – has to fulfil a dual function with regard to political order: first, the state shall organise and guarantee public order domestically within a defined territory; second, all states together constitute the international system and, thereby, the global order. Ineffective, weak, failing or failed states – which can be subsumed under the rubric of fragile statehood – tend to undermine both functions and cause problems at the national, regional and global level. In particular, for experts on development issues, it is common knowledge that many post-colonial (or post-Soviet) states are unable to provide basic public functions and services vis-à-vis their citizens and are incapable of performing their duties and responsibilities as members of the international community. In other words, fragile statehood poses challenges not only for governance internally, but also for any form of regional or global governance. However, until the turn of the century the issue was largely perceived by Western governments as a local affair, left to development experts and agencies. Only in extreme cases of humanitarian intervention has the issue of fragile statehood become connected to the field of international security policy. Otherwise, the topic did not receive any systematic or strategic treatment in Western foreign affairs and security thinking. This, however, changed profoundly after the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 (9/11). The debate has shifted – rightly or wrongly – to a more security-oriented approach. The message of 9/11 seems to be clear: if local problems are ignored, they have the potential to produce global risks.