Capabilities, International Order and Risk: Reconceptualising State Failure
The paper argues that the failed state phenomenon is not unique to the post-Cold War era, nor is it uniquely threatening in comparison with other historical periods. The paper contends that state failure is not primarily a failure of formal institutions of governance, but a subjective condition defined by the great powers. The paper draws on classical realist and critical constructivist perspectives to re-define state failure before developing a theoretical framework to reconceptualise the issue in historical and international systemic context. Interpretations of state failure are based on the interplay of perceived transnational threats with the distribution of capabilities in the international system, the pattern of order in the international society, and the sensitivity of the domestic polities of leading actors to risk. The paper draws some implications of this reconceptualisation for the coming decades of the twenty-first century.
Proceedings of the 4th Oceanic Conference on International Studies (OCISIV)