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Failed and Failing States: The Challenges to African Reconstruction

Edited by Muna Ndulo and Margaret Grieco

State collapse is one of the major threats to peace, stability, and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa today. According to Professor I. William Zartman of John Hopkins University, in a collapsed state “the structure, authority (legitimate power), law and political order have fallen apart and must be reconstituted in some form, old or new.” Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali described a failed state as one characterized by “the collapse of state institutions, especially the police and judiciary, with resulting paralysis of governance, a breakdown of law and order, and general banditry and chaos.” A collapsed state can no longer perform its basic security and development functions and has no effective control over its territory and borders. The consequences include conflict, war—and refugees. The effects often spill over into neighboring states.

Efforts to avoid drawing other nations into a wider conflict created by the collapse of a state present a major challenge. Creating favorable conditions for reconciliation and reconstruction of a failed state presents a further challenge. In April, 2008 the Cornell Institute for African Development called a symposium on ‘Failed and Failing States in Africa: Lessons from Darfur and Beyond’ to address these critical issues. Key contributions to the symposium are brought together in this volume. Taken together these essays represent a significant discussion on the challenges presented by the presence of failing states within Africa.

Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010, 227 pages, 1-4438-1866-6, 978-1-4438-1866-7

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