Enhancing Resilience in Fragile States

Background paper to the ERD2009


Seth Kaplan – Managing Partner, Alpha International Consulting, Ltd.


Paper prepared for the Conference on “Moving Towards the European Report on Development 2009”, organised by the European Report of Development in Florence, Italy, 21-23 June, 2009


The socio-political, geographical, and economic problems that underlie state fragility are structural in nature and unlikely to be solved using conventional policies. Countries of low resilience are typically plagued by two problems – political identity fragmentation and weak national institutions – that together preclude the formation of any robust national governing system, severely undermining the legitimacy of the state, and leading to political orders that are highly unstable and hard to reform. Fostering economic growth and political stability in such challenging conditions requires taking advantage of local capacities and institutions. To this end, the international community should re-direct its development assistance and emphasise three goals: promoting greater social cohesion and inclusiveness at both the national and local level; integrating states with their societies by helping them to adopt local models and to take better advantage of their informal institutions; and ensuring a more equitable distribution of economic, political, cultural, and public resources across regions, genders, and ethnic, religious, and clan groups.

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