Few issues are as central to contemporary international politics as that of interdependence and co-operation among well-functioning and legitimate states. State weakness – or the collapse or absence of the state – has become of increasing concern to the international community. The OECD Development Assistance Committee has therefore adopted Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States and Situations (April 2007) that take state building as the central objective for international partnerships in situations of fragility. But what does state building actually mean and how can external actors support this highly complex and political process, which will almost always be the product of domestic action?
This report aims to fill a significant gap and bring greater clarity to the policy discussion about state building. It offers important insights into the causes and features of fragility, and how states can reach stability and resilience over time. The report highlights that state building needs to be seen in the context of state formation and state-society relations. Based on this understanding, it examines the implications for international state-building efforts in relation to various facets of fragility, and concludes with a set of practical recommendations on policy and programming for bilateral and multilateral donors.
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