Attempts to reform fragile states have rarely made things better. Fixing Fragile States lays bare the fatal flaws in current policies and explains why flawed governance systems, not corrupt bureaucrats or armed militias, are the cancers that devour these places. The cure, therefore, is not to send more aid or more peacekeepers but to redesign political, economic, and legal structures—to refashion them so they can leverage local traditions, overcome political fragmentation, expand governance capacities, and catalyze corporate investment.
This $2.5 million report, the first ever flagship study put out jointly by the United Nations and World Bank, looks at how violent conflict has changed in recent years and how development processes can increase or reduce the chance of violent conflict. To understand ‘what works,’ it reviews the experience of different countries and institutions to highlight elements that have contributed to peace. Central to these efforts is the need to address grievances around exclusion from access to power, opportunity and security. (I was co-author of the report and external adviser on the project.)
Transitions often struggle due to underlying fault lines that divide societal groups and debilitate institutions. This publication highlights that a more comprehensive approach is needed, involving a combination of three building blocks: 1) the bringing together of different groups around a “social covenant” that bridges social divides and creates a greater common sense of nationhood; 2) the deliberate adoption of inclusiveness as a guiding principle across a broad range of policy areas (e.g. politics, education, rule of law, security, economics, culture); and 3) the establishment or strengthening of measures that enforce political commitments and reduce biases in how institutions work.
Based on two years of research, interviews, and expert workshops, this publication outlines a new conceptual and operational framework aimed at improving outcomes in fragile and conflict-affected states transitioning out of conflict or repression by zeroing in on inclusiveness as a guiding principle.
Combining the latest research into poverty and state building with the author’s personal observations drawn from years running businesses in the developing world, Betrayed explains how leaders in the developing world can build more inclusive societies and more equitable governments, thereby creating dynamic national economies and giving the poor the opportunity to accumulate the means and skills to control their own destinies. It is a handbook for political and economic change in less developed countries.