Fragile States: A Donor-Serving Concept? Issues with Interpretations of Fragile Statehood in Afghanistan

May 10, 2013

Content from the Brookings Doha Center is now archived. In September 2021, after 14 years of impactful partnership, Brookings and the Brookings Doha Center announced that they were ending their affiliation. The Brookings Doha Center is now the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, a separate public policy institution based in Qatar.

Current conceptions and models of fragile statehood in conflict-affected contexts can serve the purposes of international donor governments over and above reconstruction and statebuilding.

First, despite remaining ill-defined, the fragile state concept is widely utilized by donors to oversimplify analysis of complex political environments, such as that of Afghanistan, leading to inadequate bureaucratic responses. Second, current models of fragile statehood are unable to capture contextual or temporal dynamics, and invariably omit the contribution of international intervention to entrenching fragility. This is particularly the case in Afghanistan, where the effects of international militarized stabilization responses have not been systematically included in fragility assessments, leading to increased insecurity. This article calls for a more nuanced approach to fragility and greater acknowledgement of the role donor governments can play in its entrenchment.

Read the full article in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding »