Over the past few years, the development challenges faced by fragile states have moved to the top of the international development agenda. This has reflected an apparent increase in the number of fragile states in the world over the past two decades. Since the end of the Cold War, some powerful states have been much less willing and able to support and maintain weaker states, making the latter vulnerable to failure or even collapseAt the same time, globalisation has created a range of economic, political and security-related pressures that have overwhelmed many weaker states.
Combined with internal political, social and economic conditions that make countries vulnerable to the onset of civil war and economic collapse all this has dramatically increased the incidence of state fragility in the developing world. Many international development organisations have responded to feelings of insecurity in the West since the terrorist attack on the USA on 11 September 2001, and subsequent attacks elsewhere, by making improved conditions in fragile states one of their key goals.
This IDS Bulletin explores how these organisations might most effectively do so. It examines factors that have shaped development 'turnaround' outcomes in seven current and former fragile states, examines the role of donors in these countries, and assesses the implications of findings for donor strategies for engaging in fragile states. The terms 'fragile states' and 'turnaround' here refer to particular development outcomes rather than the supposed quality of countries' governance, policies and institutions.