Fragile States: A Challenge for Development Policy
Fragile states, in which the principles of good governance are not being practised, pose a risk to regional and global security and undermine international efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals. Yet despite their bad governance, the international community must not exclude these countries from all forms of cooperation but must work sensitively to improve the situation. Development policy plays a key role in this context. The major challenge arising in political dialogue and in designing cooperation programmes, however, is finding ways to enable development measures to take place in the country without legitimising or reinforcing bad governance.
Indicators of fragile statehood
There is no standard international definition of fragile statehood. Fragile states are those in which state institutions are very weak or at risk of collapse, and whose populations suffer from widespread poverty, violence and arbitrary rule. Women, children and ethnic or religious minorities are especially affected. A state's fragility may also correlate with a lack of legitimacy.
There are various indices which can be applied to evaluate a country's governance performance. All recipient countries of World Bank loans, for example, are evaluated using the Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA), which assesses the quality of a country's present policy and institutional framework. The CPIA criteria are grouped into four clusters: economic management, structural policies, policies for social inclusion and equity, and public sector management and institutions. According to the World Bank's definition, all low-income countries which score 3.2 or less on this index are classed as fragile states. This group of countries is also termed "Low-Income Countries Under Stress" (LICUS).
In 2006, 26 countries met the World Bank's criteria for classification as fragile states, 15 of them in Africa. According to the World Bank, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Liberia, Myanmar, Somalia and Zimbabwe face particularly severe difficulties.
If other political, economic and social indicators of bad governance are included in the assessment, more than 50 countries worldwide would have to be classified as fragile. These countries are home to more than 1.2 billion people – almost one-fifth of the world's population.
In the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness adopted in 2005, donor countries pledged to build or reinforce legitimate public institutions in fragile states and to counteract state failure and collapse.
For further information, please see: Good Governance
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Development-Oriented Transformation in Conditions of Fragile Statehood and poor Government Performance
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