The Resilient State: New Regulatory Modes in International Approaches to Statebuilding?
Third World Quarterly, January 2016, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2015.1086637
23 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2016
Date Written: February 4, 2016
‘Resilience’ has quickly risen to prominence in international security and development circles. In recent years, it has found its way into political discourse on state-building and state fragility, triggering a vast but often conceptually indistinct examination of the subject. Given its meaning in policy publications and guidelines, ‘resilience’ tends to eschew a static conceptualization of statehood, turning instead to a more dynamic, complex and process-oriented rendering of state-society relations. This illustrates a conceptual shift from ‘failed states’ to ‘fragile states and situations’. It also transforms the ‘failed state’ as a mere threat perception – with ‘stability’ as its logical other – into ‘fragility’ as a particular form of social and political risk. This paper analyses the concepts in 43 policy papers focusing on the nexus of ‘resilience’ and ‘fragility’ in international statebuilding and assesses potential consequences. What does ‘resilience’ – as the opposite vision to ‘fragility’ – in fact mean? What is the practice derived from this chimerical state of states?
Keywords: fragile states, resilience, failed states, security, statebuilding policy, international development, international relations
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