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Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World

February 25, 2009

“Fixing Failed States” addresses one of the central issues of our times: the proliferation of failed states across the world and our inability to stabilize them. There are between forty and sixty failed states, and they house one billion people. The world’s worst problems-terrorism, drug and human trafficking, absolute poverty, ethnic conflict, disease, genocide-originate in such states, and the international community has devoted billions upon billions of dollars to solving the problem. Yet by and large, the effort has failed. The authors explain the failure stems in part from an outmoded vision of the state system based on the framers of the post-World War II order’s vision: relatively independent, unified states that control markets and rely on authoritarianism when necessary. The world we actually live in is far different. Identities and loyalties don’t necessarily correspond to traditional nation-states, and nations are far less autonomous than in the past. The task at hand, they argue, is to develop novel strategies informed by the realities of our fully globalized world. International institutions, therefore, should prioritize fostering mutually reinforcing bonds between states, civil societies, and markets.

The book is divided into three parts – a diagnosis of the problem, a structure for dealing with it, and a discussion of examples of the new processes at work. Throughout, their own experiences in failed states ranging from Afghanistan to Nepal vividly illustrate the nature of the crisis and what we can do to to effectively improve matters. The book’s uniqueness lies in its essential optimism — an optimism that the authors have earned through their own substantial real-world efforts and their acknowledged expertise on the subject. With Fixing Failed States, Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart provide a framework for facing one of the most troublesome issues facing the international community. Buy now