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State Fragility

Fragile States are those that cannot be classified either as developed and functional States or as failed States. They fall somewhere in between, showing several indications of a propensity towards failure, but also demonstrating signs of the possibility of recovery. These States, also frequently referred to as fragile, failing or weak States, are an increasingly common phenomenon in the international system of the post Cold War period, with an estimated 1 billion people living within their borders.

The causes of fragility are complex and multidimensional, related to both international and local factors. These include regional instability, landlocked States, lack of economic development or opportunities, lack of democratic means of conflict resolution, inequalities in the distribution of wealth, ethnically divided societies and sub development.

It is of the upmost importance to develop a clear comprehension of these contexts of fragility in order to identify the factors that influence a State’s evolution either towards failure or towards development and stability. This knowledge is essential in order to devise the correct approaches to these States and help them avoy failure.

Disaster Risk Reduction tries to identify and reduce the risk of natural disasters. Its main objective is to implement a series of measures to reduce the social, economic, infrastructural and institutional vulnerability of States to natural disasters. It also tries to deal with the environmental policies and behaviours that augment State’s fragility to certain environmental hazards.

Disaster risk reduction is thus a very broad practice that might accompany several other measures related to State-Building and the prevention of State-Failure, be it the promotion of development or the construction of local capabilities and institutions. Although there is no established definition of Disaster Risk Reduction, the UNDP’s definition is frequently cited, and defines it as “the conceptual framework of elements considered with the possibilities to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society, to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse impacts of hazards, within the broad context of sustainable development.”

Suggested readings

Addressing State Fragility in a Contested State (Lucia Montanaro)

African Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction

An Adequate EU Response Strategy to Address Situations of Fragility (Fernanda Faria & Patrícia Magalhães Ferreira)

Anticipating State Failure (David Carmen)

Cities Conflict and State Fragility (Jo Beall, Tom Goodfellow & Dennis Rodgers)

Citizenship and State Fragility (Lucy Earl)

Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (Geoff O’Brien, Phil O’Keefe, Joanne Rose & Ben Wisner)

Climate Change Conflict and Fragility (Dan Smith & Janani Vivekanand)

Determinants of State Fragility and Implications for Aid Allocation (David Carment, Stewart Prest & Yiagadeesen Samy)

Disaster Risk Reduction (Paul Freeman, Leslie Martin, Joanne Linnerooth-Bayer, Reinhard Mechler, Georg Pflug & Koko Warner)

Disaster Risk Reduction Climate Change Adaptation and Human Security (Karen O’Brien, Linda Sygna, Robin Leichenko, Neil Adger, Jon Barnett, Tom Mitchell, Lisa Schipper, Thomas Tanner, Coleen Vogel & Colette Mortreux)

Education and Fragility (Jacqueline Mosselson, Wendy Wheaton & Paul Frisoli)

Fragility and Conflicts (Marta Reynal-Querol)

Fragility Conflict and Aid Effectiveness in Fragile Countries (Marta Reynal-Querol)

Gender and Fragility (Wendy Harcourt)

Global Challenges in Disaster Reduction (Sálvano Briceño)

Implementing Community Based Risk Reduction in Indonesia (Krishna Suryanto Pribadi & Aria Mariany)

International Strategies in Fragile States – Expanding the Toolbox

Linking Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management for Sustainable Poverty Reduction

Local Knowledge in Disaster Managment (Phong Tran, Rajib Shaw, Guillaume Chantry & John Norton)

Natural Resources and State Fragility (Paul Collier & Anthony Venables)

Networking Disaster Risk Reduction Technology and Knowledge (Hiroyuki Kameda)

On Hybrid Political Orders – State Formation in the Context of Fragility (Volker Boege, Anne Brown, Kevin Clements & Anna Nolan)

Resources and the Political Economy of State Fragility in Conflict States (Ghassan Dibeh)

State Fragility – Concept and Measurement (Mina Baliamoune-Lutz & Mark McGillivray)

State of Fragility – Implications for Humanitarian Action (Sarah Collinson, Samir Elhawary & Robert Muggah)

Strategies and Financial Instruments for Disaster Risk Management in Latin America and Caribbean (Stuart Miller & Kari Keipi)

Towards Total Disaster Risk Management Approach ( Emmanuel Guzmann)

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