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Statebuilding and Nationbuilding

Catherine Goetze and Dejan Guzina

Final draft chapter for Goetze, Catherine and Dejan Guzina. "Statebuilding and Nationbuilding." The
International Studies Encyclopedia. Denemark, Robert A. Blackwell Publishing, 2010. Blackwell
Reference Online. 17 June 2010

Max Weber famously stated in his Economy and Society that the [modern], rational state has only
existed in the Occident (Weber 1925; translation by the author). Yet, as indisputable as this claim might
have been at the beginning of the twentieth century, states have since been built around the world during
diverse decolonization processes, and continued to be externally constructed by powerful international
voluntarism in the past decade. As a result of the enigmatic practices of statebuilding, the term is as fuzzy
as any major social science concept and it continues to be subject to numerous partial interpretations
contingent on the political contexts in which it is used. Numerous authors have thus tried to clarify the very
concept of statebuilding, and a plethora of special issues and edited volumes have scrutinized its implicit
and explicit meanings (Chesterman 2004; Goetze and Guzina 2004; Paris 2004; Caplan 2005a).
However, authors attempting to clearly define statebuilding generally face two major conceptual
difficulties. First, the concept has been employed in historical sociological literature analyzing longue
dure processes of state formation in modern Europe while concurrently being used, quite independently
from the former branch of research, for policies of external assistance to political and administrative
institution building in war-torn societies since the early 1990s. Second, statebuilding is always defined in
relation to the concept of the state, which itself is an object of endless debates in different branches of
social science.
Here, it suffices to say that the most generally accepted definition of the state is Max Weber's, who
defined it as a composite of territory, population, and a (legitimate) government in control of the means of
violence. Weber himself approached the state as a heuristic device (according to his understanding of
concepts as ideal types) to help him understand and compare modern European experiences (Migdal and
Schlichte 2005:24). However, the trends of the twentieth century (national liberation and decolonization
movements) have turned the question of what is a state into a different question altogether when and how
is a state a state? Furthermore, while for Weber the state was understood as an approximation of reality,
in the twentieth century, its composite parts have become understood as the facts or ingredients necessary
for the process of statebuilding. This change of analytical perspective to a more pragmatic one that is,
paradoxically, based on the deification and metamorphosis of abstract concepts into facts on the grounds
was already recognized in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States. The
Convention, which still represents an undisputed formulation of criteria of statehood in international law,
offers a shopping list of necessary statebuilding components: (1) a permanent population, (2) a defined
territory, (3) a government, and (4) a capacity to enter into relations with other states (Caplan 2005b:52).
Finally, exacerbating further the conceptual confusion, the term statebuilding is more often than not
used interchangeably and synonymously with the term nationbuilding, notably in the policy-making
literature. Yet, here again, at least two broad currents of social science research have developed rather
different understandings of nation-building. Whereas in the sociological-historical literature the focus is on
the rise of nationalism as collective imagination and state-supporting ideology (Anderson 2006; Gellner
2006), the more recent literature on institutional change, notably on democratic transitions within existing
states with minority problems, has rather focused on questions of power sharing and institutional design to
diminish ethnic and nationalist conflict (Horowitz 1985; Linz and Stepan 1996). Both of these perspectives
on nation-building are the focus of separate entries on nationalism and power sharing in this volume, and
thus will not be dealt with in this entry.

In what follows, we start first with a short overview of the historical sociological and comparative
literature on statebuilding. Central to this section are the relationships between political development and
statebuilding, democratization and statebuilding, nationbuilding and state destroying, and war and states.
The current trend in the literature on externally supported statebuilding will then be addressed and will
cover several themes. First, a relationship between security and peacebuilding is addressed, followed by an
overview of peacebuilding as saving lives. The third section represents an overview of the relationship
between the generalized approaches to statebuilding, while at the same time the local contexts within which
they are being applied are evaluated. Special attention is given to the role of the UN Peacebuilding
Commission given its increasing importance in externally supported statebuilding. The last part of this
entry is a survey of the more critical literature on statebuilding as a new empire in the making.

Statebuilding: Comparative Perspectives

Political Development and State Formation
The collapse of colonialism, followed by the rise of many new states in Asia and Africa, is the global
context within which the twin paradigm on political development and statebuilding emerged in the 1960s.
Throughout the decade, Gabriel Almond, the chair of the American Social Science Research Council's
Committee on Comparative Politics, and members of the committee (Leonard Binder, Samuel Huntington,
Joseph LaPalombara, Lucian Pye, Sidney Verba, Myron Weiner, and others) were engaged in research on
political development in new states. Their general conclusion was that each political system has to go
through a series of crises before it fully develops into a system that strongly resembles a Western-type
liberal democracy. Theoretical elaboration of these findings was presented in Almond and Powell's
Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach (1966). Not surprisingly, a developmental approach
turned out to be an exercise in structural functionalism for which Almond was internationally renowned.
By the end of the 1960s, this process of development (or, in the functionalist terminology of the day,
penetration, integration, participation, identity formation, legitimization, and distribution) became
identified with state- and nationbuilding. In short, both statebuilding and political development were
defined in a teleological manner, that is, they could not have been explained without reference to the final
goal: a stable and fully developed Western type of a political system (see Tilly 2006).
However, not all members of the SSRC's committee shared the optimistic thrust of the developmental
literature. Already in 1965, Samuel Huntington had published a classic article in World Politics in which he
put forward his famous thesis that rapid modernization, in brief, produces not political development, but
political decay (p. 386). Three years later, Huntington published Political Order in Changing Societies, in
which he argued that the process of economic and social modernization, if not followed by strong political
and institutional development, would ultimately lead to the collapse of order and upsurges of violence, and
hence the endpoint of development did not necessarily need to resemble Western-style democracies.
At around the same time, and at the invitation of the SSRC, a different group of scholars (mostly
historians and sociologists) started researching the processes of Western European state formation. In his
recent article (2006), Charles Tilly maintains that theorists of political development were hoping that such a
work would only confirm their sequenced development approach. However, when in 1975, the edited
collection of essays on The Formation of National States in Western Europe was published, it turned out
that the contributors (Charles Tilly, Stein Rokkan, Samuel Finer, Peter Lundgreen, and others) did not share
the optimism of the previous generation, for their conclusion was that history did not confirm the overtly
clean and tidy crisis-and-sequence scheme that could somehow be easily emulated by later developing
states. Or, in the words of Tilly, [T]he processes of state formation were far more contingent, transitory,
and reversible than analysts of political development then supposed (2006:419).
Major contributors to the debate over state formation in the 1970s and 1980s (Charles Tilly, Stein
Rokkan, Barrington Moore, Perry Anderson, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Michael Mann) were all united in
their dismissal of the abstract language of structural functionalism and in favor of the evaluation of
concrete historical processes of state formation in Western Europe. They differed greatly, however, in their
explanations as to what led to the establishment and consolidation of durable military, administrative,
judicial, and financial apparatuses in Western Europe. This is not surprising, as they were influenced in
their analysis of state formation by various insights and aspects of the works of such diverse authors as
Max Weber, Otto Hintze, and Karl Marx (Ertman 2005:367).

In his overview of theories of state formation, Gianfranco Poggi (2004) has tried to introduce a certain
order into this vastly rich literature on statebuilding by identifying three principal perspectives on state
formation (statualization): managerial, military, and economic. The managerial approach to statebuilding
emphasizes an increasingly effective administration over population and territory; the military perspective,
primarily influenced by Weber and Hintze, focuses on the role of war in the state's increasing monopoly of
legitimate violence; and, finally, the economic perspective, inspired by Marx, emphasizes the role of class
struggle in the process of state formation and consolidation. However, Poggi cogently explains that even
though these perspectives appear radically different, they in fact complement each other as each one
addresses one particular aspect of an extremely complex process of statualization that rejects easy
generalizations or a unifying theory.
As Poggi argues, the managerial perspective is mostly concerned with explaining the development of
ever more effective ways of collecting resources and providing services to the public (Strayer 1970), on the
one side, and with explaining the significance of law in providing stability and order in the process of
statebuilding (Berman 1983), on the other. These concerns, however, are also important to military and
economic approaches to state formation. Even though the former recognizes war as central to state
formation (Tilly 1975, 1992, 2002), this perspective also recognizes that the development of standing
armies promotes and necessitates the rise of state bureaucracy, particularly in the realms of public finance
and taxation systems. In similar fashion, the neo-Marxist approaches could not focus only on the analysis
of different class alignments in different parts of Europe without incorporating into their explanation
insights from the so-called managerial and military perspectives. Thus, while Perry Anderson's central
concern is to explain the uneven development of Europe (1974) in the medieval period, to do so, he also
has to explain why and how class constellations differ between parts of Eastern and Western Europe. His
answer to this question led him to incorporate Weber and Hintze's insights into his work, namely, to
recognize the centrality of war and war preparations in differentiating one region from the other. In similar
fashion, Immanuel Wallerstein (1974) does not offer only an economic analysis of the rise of the European
world economy. He also shows that the processes of increasing bureaucratization, monopolization of force,
legitimization of absolutist states, and cultural homogenization were instrumental in the development of
modern capitalism and the state (1974:1346) Finally, Barrington Moore, in his classic Social Origins of
Dictatorship and Democracy (1966), not only accounts for different class constellations in different parts of
Europe (Britain, France, Germany, Russia) leading to the development of radically different political
regimes, but also recognizes an autonomous role for the state in the process of political development
(Skocpol 1999).
In the end, despite all differences in various approaches to state formation, Ertman is certainly right to
argue in his overview of statebuilding in Europe that one particular aspect of state formation connects most
of the literature on the subject. He asserts that even more so than the importance of the war, almost all
authors recognize that the expansion of administrative and financial institutions is always followed by
patrimonial practices of proprietary officeholding, tax farming, and financial cronyism with their attendant
inefficiency, arbitrariness, and large scale diversion of public funds into private hands, a pervasiveness of
which the endemic corruption and rent seeking in the public administration of many developing state[s]
today is reminiscent (2005:382). Ertman claims that the literature on the formation of European nationstates offers two answers as to how social groups resisted the rent-seeking pressures of state institutions.
One strand of research identifies Brandenburg-Prussia as a model of an authoritarian executive that closely
monitored its own administrators; another points to eighteenth-century Britain, where the state was
controlled through the expansion of autonomous political representative bodies (Parliament), the
autonomous financial market, and a relatively free press (see also Ertman 1997). These institutions have
worked together ever since in concert to impose efficient and honest behavior on the part of state
administrators (Ertman 2005:383). Both these scenarios identify themes and institutions that are also
central to the contemporary literature on democratization and external statebuilding, as will be seen in the
remaining entry's sections.

Statebuilding and Democratization Paradigm

The process of democratization in Southern Europe and Latin America in the 1970s and the
implosion of communism in 1989 have inspired social scientists to coin new concepts (or refurbish old
ones) to explain the content and scope of the unprecedented and unanticipated social and political changes
that have resulted from these events (Whitehead 2002). In the process, the very concepts of state- and

nationbuilding have undergone radical transformation. Originally, statebuilding was used by historians and
sociologists to explain state formation in modern Europe. It has since been expanded to encompass
processes of state formation, both external and internal, in regions around the globe. Furthermore, with the
emergence of newly liberated postcolonial states, statebuilding became conflated within the modernization
paradigm. Finally, political scientists replaced the concept of modernization with the new paradigm of
democratic transition and consolidation of already existing states. Samuel Huntington's extremely
influential formulation of the third wave of democratization (1991) was instrumental in replacing the
concept of statebuilding with the term democratization. Even though he applied the concept to South
European and Latin American democratic expansion in the 1970s, it soon became broadly used as a key to
understanding the Eastern European processes of democratic transition in the 1990s, and later the same
processes in Africa and Asia.
The underlying assumption was that in all these cases, one deals with essentially the same phenomena:
the breakdown of rigid, nondemocratic regimes and the birth of pluralist societies based on principles of
liberal democracy. In other words, it seemed justifiable to assume that Southern European and Latin
American experiences with democratization might (and should) provide analysts of the third and fourth
waves of democratization with valuable insights into transformation policies and processes. Thus, the
original ideas, themes, and concepts of the democratization literature have seemed to become part and
parcel of comparative politics studies that go well beyond the context of Latin America and Southern
Europe. As such, a sketch of the key findings of this literature, as it relates to the question of the
relationship between society and the state (sociopolitical development), is both necessary and instructive
and thus will complete the remaining part of this section.
Among the main themes in the transition paradigm are the role of the military, the relationship between
the state and civil society, the continuing influence of predemocratic politicians inherited from the
authoritarian past, and the legacies of maldeveloped economies. Guillermo O'Donnell classifies these
practical issues in the case of Brazil into three main continuities: (1) the continuous influence and
institutional presence of the armed forces, (2) the persistence of notable political actors from the previous
regime, and (3) the endurance of elements of old patrimonial politics, such as clientelism and personalism.
Accordingly, under conditions of political uncertainty the executive branch can easily slide into old habits
of personalism and clientelism that provide them with the sense of omnipotence. At the same time, such
governments are perceived by the populace as impotent, because of their failure to regulate national life
in an effective way. This, on the other side, opens the door for populist politicians to regain ground in the
political arena. Thus, O'Donnell's analysis implies that as long as these continuities from the past remain an
important factor in shaping political life during democratic transition and consolidation, there is a distinct
possibility of wild swings between blatantly technocratic and populist styles of government (pp. 37, 50).
O'Donnell's distinction between transition to democracy and its consolidation has been widely
influential. Even though this distinction looks rather formalistic, it has practical application in that it allows
the old questions about the meaning of democracy to be raised from a completely different perspective.
Hence, focusing on issues of consolidation allows analysts and policy makers to shift their understanding of
democracy from substantive terms (i.e., defining democracy by certain political outcomes) to procedural
terms (defining democracy according to the rules that govern politics) (Mainwaring et al. 1992:296). Or,
in Mainwaring et al.'s words, [D]emocracy's fundamental claim to legitimacy is not a substantive one
(greater efficiency, equity, or growth), but rather a procedural one: guarantees of human rights, protection
of minorities, government accountability, and the opportunity to get rid of rulers who lose their popular
support (1992:306).
An important corollary of this understanding of democracy is that the aforementioned authors are able
to incorporate many practical issues that grand theoretical schemes, by their very nature, do not usually
cover. Being influenced by Robert Dahl's famous political equation of the costs and benefits of
authoritarian rule the more the costs of suppression exceed the costs of toleration, the greater the chance
for a competitive regime Mainwaring, O'Donnell, and Valenzuela offer various combinations of
procedural rules and institutions that may consolidate precarious democracies into stable democratic
regimes (1992:3225).
However, despite their emphasis on the role of procedures and institutions in the consolidation of
democracy, their approach leaves out some important questions raised by D. Rueschemeyer, E. Huber
Stephens, and J.D. Stephens (1992). The virtue of this latter work is its incorporation of both substantive

and procedural elements of democracy. Hence, its understanding of democracy includes not only
procedural elements but also the effects that social class divisions and transnational power constellations
have on the democratization process. Following such diverse authors as Karl Marx, Max Weber, and
Anthony Giddens, these authors provide the reader with many interesting theoretical insights about the
links between democracy and capitalism. Links they highlight include those between class constellations
and democratization, and between the state and civil society. They also examine the differentiating effects
of state structures, war, and the impact of economics and geopolitical dependence.
Despite the differences in their approaches, both groups of authors support the comparative analysis of
the structural conditions that favor or inhibit democratic consolidation. They would also seem to agree that
the issues of democratic consolidation are ultimately issues of power relations, more specifically those
between different classes and between the (autonomous) state and civil society. Successes and failures in
finding the delicate balance between different class interests, and in delineating borders between the state
and civil society and, increasingly, between domestic and international actors, largely determine the
outcome of the drive toward successful statebuilding understood in terms of a right type of political regime
(liberal democracy) (Diamond 2008). As will be seen in the section on the forms of statebuilding, most of
these insights were either forgotten or simply taken over (or reinvented) in the international relations
literature on statebuilding.

Statebuilding versus Nationbuilding

One particular aspect of the post-1989 Eastern European political transformation democratization in
the context of the rise of ethnic nationalism following the collapse of the former communist federations
has been usually perceived as an exclusively Eastern European phenomenon without a counterpart in the
previously mentioned experiences of Southern Europe or Latin America. It is only recently (pace area
specialists) that events in Africa and Central Asia have shown that the problem of ethnic nationalism is not
a distinctively Eastern European phenomenon.
One of the reasons why the national revolutions in some parts of the former communist bloc during and
after 1989 appeared different from anywhere else is that with the collapse of the Soviet model of command
politics and economics, the socialist state collapsed as well. The consequences of this collapse varied
significantly throughout the region, depending on whether postcommunist states represented a consolidated
nation-state or not. In those states where there was a significant ethnic majority (80/ and more), the collapse
of communism did not affect the legitimacy of the state. This was the case in most of the Central European
states, where statebuilding became synonymous with the process of democratization and liberalization of
the state (as was previously the case in Southern Europe and Latin America); however, in the Balkans and
the former Soviet Union, postsocialist transitions took the form of (sometimes very violent) ethnic conflicts
for control of the state. At least in the cases of the former Yugoslavia and parts of the former Soviet Union,
this led to prolonged wars resulting in the birth of many new nation-states in the region. Thus, out of nine
formerly communist states in 1989, 28 nation-states emerged by the end of the 1990s (Roeder 1999). In
other words, the process of statebuilding became inextricably connected to and confused with
nationbuilding. The final result was that, at the end of the 1990s, the political struggle in many ethnically
heterogeneous postsocialist states revolved exclusively around the issues of self-determination and state
sovereignty (Brubaker 1996; Huttenbach and Privitera 1999; Smith 1999; Kymlicka and Opalski 2002).
Accordingly, many analysts were forced to ask the question as to why (in the context of multination states
in crisis) the nationalist call has proven to be more potent time and again than any other alternative
The most provocative answer to the rise of nationalist conflicts following the process of
democratization came from Jack Snyder (2000). His analysis of nationalist conflicts in the 1990s leads him
to hypothesize that the process of democratization (particularly in its early stages) enhances, rather than
reduces, the possibility of both international and internal ethnic conflicts. Snyder maintains that in
politically weak societies with little understanding of liberal institutions, it is in the self-interest of various
ethnic elites to sidetrack democratization and pursue the defense of sacred national interests. The
countries upon which he draws his analysis vary from the historic examples of Britain, France, Germany,
and Serbia to countries of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India, Rwanda,
and Burundi. Not unlike Linz and Stepan (1996), Snyder maintains that ethnic mass mobilization becomes
an alluring substitute for true democracy. However, unlike Linz and Stepan in their comparative
evaluation of democratization policies in Southern Europe, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, Snyder

strongly doubts the short-term possibilities of managing ethnic nationalism through various forms of power
sharing or cross-ethnic alliances. He believes that power-sharing arrangements between different ethnic
leaderships tend to solidify ethnicity as the single most important identity marker in such states, at the
expense of policies that could foster more inclusive, civic versions of national identity.
Snyder's analysis seems to support Dankwart Rustow's insight that the vast majority of citizens in a
democracy must have no doubts or mental reservations as to which political community they belong to
(1970:350). To the extent that this is not the case, statebuilding and nationbuilding tend to work against
each other (Connor 1993; Conversi 2004). Paul Collier in his latest book Wars, Guns and Votes:
Democracy in Dangerous Places offers empirical support for Snyder's claims regarding the dangers of
premature elections in postconflict countries (2009). Collier argues that the international community
focuses too much on elections, and that in the context of poor, fragile, multiethnic states an election is often
just a faade rather than a sign of meaningful democracy. Ultimately, without a broader framework of
accountability between such states and the international community, elections are often destabilizing and
will lead to the process of state destruction rather than statebuilding (Roeder and Rothchild 2005; Collier
Richard Rose and Doh Chull Shin have echoed these sentiments (2001). They suggest that
contemporary democratizing states (countries of the third wave of democratization) don't have the luxury
of first becoming modern states (the clearly established and socially accepted rules of law, strong
parliaments, and the judiciary) before extending the vote to the masses. Instead, they are forced to complete
the democratization process backward as they are pushed by the international community into early
elections prior to engaging in statebuilding (Rose and Chin 2001; see also Paris 2004). Ultimately, these
states are no longer in transition, but instead, as Georg Sorensen argues, they have reached a point of
standstill (2008). This is the situation when, as Thomas Carothers nicely explains (2002, 2007), one
political group tries to dominate the political apparatus of the state. In the context of ethnically diverse
states, such dominant power politics quickly degenerates into political violence and conflict that fully
replace the process of statebuilding with its exact opposite nationbuilding understood in terms of state

War and States

Contrary to the aforementioned historical-sociological research on state formation in Europe,
contemporary statebuilding literature, notably in the discipline of international relations, does not account
for the statebuilding potential of social conflict. Current research on civil wars has been paradigmatically
framed by two images in the past decade. On the one hand, a major influence has been the greed versus
grievance debate that was initiated at the end of the 1990s by Paul Collier's work for the World Bank on
civil war (Collier et al. 2005); on the other hand, several analyses stating that contemporary civil wars are
new in their mixture of the privatization of violence, state destruction, and forms of violence have led to
the inference that these wars do not construct states as sixteenth- or seventeenth-century wars did in
Europe; rather, they are state-decay wars (Kaldor 1999; Mnkler 2002). Both strands of research have
been particularly influential in establishing a political consensus about statebuilding as security policy. In
both arguments, weak or failing statehood is considered to be the primary cause of contemporary protracted
armed conflicts. Indeed, the very existence of civil war proves that governments are unable to contain
opponents: Civil war is an armed conflict that pits the government and national army of an internationally
organized state against one or more armed opposition groups able to mount effective resistance against the
state (Doyle and Sambanis 2006:31). The state is seen as existing prior to the conflict, and war results
from the incapacity, unwillingness, or both of the state to solve social conflicts and to respond adequately
to grievances and distribution problems (Doyle and Sambanis [2006] talk of coordination and cooperation
problems; see p. 51). In other words, intentionally or not, these authors invoke pluralist state theories, such
as those developed in Robert Dahl's work Poliarchy (1972), as they assume that war arises out of
conflicting interests within given state institutions.
This research shows little interest in or connection to previous analyses on civil war and statebuilding
done from historical and sociopolitical perspectives. Classic analyses like Barrington Moore's Dictatorship
and Democracy (1966); Charles Tilly's Coercion, Capital and European States (1992); Norbert Elias The
Civilizing Process (1994); or Michael Mann's The Sources of Social Power (1986) (just to mention a few)
have emphasized, each in its own way, the importance of internal warfare not only for the acquisition of
physical means of force and power by specific social classes, but also for the forging of rights, laws, and

political institutions necessary for the building of the state that then acquires autonomous powers (or not).
More importantly, as all these authors argue, institutions do not necessarily solve the social conflicts of
their time, but the other way around: The social conflicts and the respective distributions of power shape
the institutions, that is, differentiated institutions arose because they proved to be useful instruments in the
hands of social classes in the struggle over power and domination in political, economic, and cultural terms.
With their emphasis on state destruction and state failure, current analyses of civil wars tend to
underestimate the dynamics of sociopolitical power configurations. Consequently, motives and capabilities
of actors to support or obstruct peace processes are not accurately understood. One effect this has had has
been the depoliticization of many conflicts as they are seen to be motivated by greed or violent strategies
of ethnic group building but not as conflicts over opposing political designs. This partial blindness toward
the sociopolitical dynamics of civil wars is deepened through the voluntarist approach to statebuilding,
where much discussion centers around the ability of the institutions to impose and very little focus is on the
local particularities. Statebuilding as a global project has, in the past, been pursued rather as a tool-kit
approach where the solution to the puzzle involves the right combination of ingredients. The negligence of
scholars to couch their analyses of institutional dynamics in an understanding of local politics means
institutional failure is often interpreted as resulting from voluntary spoiling strategies or posttraumatic
stress disorder. Richard Caplan exemplifies such characterizations with the remark that too rapid a transfer
of authority carries its own risks: among other things, it can overwhelm a people emerging from the trauma
of violent conflict as well as reinforce divisions that lie at the heart of the conflict as former warring parties
compete for political power (Caplan 2005a:110; emphasis added).

Statebuilding as Global Project

Since the early 1990s, the number of statebuilding projects has multiplied, often ending several years or
even decades of violent conflict. The objectives of these missions have been formulated ad hoc, driven by
the geopolitical contexts in which the mandates of statebuilding missions were established. While in
postconflict situations the first goal is to establish physical security and to reestablish the material
infrastructures, middle- and long-term goals aim at the establishment of rule of law, the creation of state
institutions (bureaucracies as well as political-constitutional institutions), the holding of elections, the
creation of a civil society sector and public opinion, the liberalization of the economy, and so on.
After initial success in establishing a sense of physical security, the empirical evidence documents in
most cases that statebuilding has failed, or only moderately succeeded, in the process of externally building
states. In some countries violence has resumed after the initial end of hostilities. In others the best results
achieved were authoritarian regimes based on fragile stalemates between warring parties. Finally, in many
cases, the statebuilding missions have become states within states. That is, in response to their inability to
rebuild externally supported states on the principles of pluralist societies, democracy, and market economy,
they keep postponing the official end to their missions for fear of undermining positive (but modest) results
of economic and political reforms that have been achieved thus far. As Astri Suhrke (2009) shows for
Afghanistan, state revenues keep diminishing despite all the efforts of the international community. The
same can be shown for other cases of statebuilding whether in the form of international missions in socalled fragile states (see the case studies in Goetze and Guzina 2008; and see Hughes 2003) or in the form
of continued development assistance (see Schlichte on Uganda in Goetz and Guzina 2008). The mixed
success of statebuilding coupled with its high costs make one wonder what the motivations for such
ambitious projects of social engineering might be. Two main motivations can be discerned and
distinguished: On the one hand, statebuilding has become an integral part of global security strategies; on
the other hand, statebuilding is seen as a moral imperative in an ever more interdependent world in which
human rights and life integrity are to be the ethical keystones of a globalized world.

Statebuilding as Global Security Politics

Numerous policy-advising analysts see state failure and protracted violence as threats to the national
security of Western states and to the international order in general. The international system is based on
sovereign statehood, which in the 1990s was redefined as the internal capacity of effective rule rather than
simply the external recognition of independence. The norm of noninterference, which emerged as a marker
of sovereignty during the Cold War and was reaffirmed during the independence of former colonies in the
1960s, was superseded in the late 1990s by the norm of responsibility, that is, the state's internal capacity
to respond to the demands and needs of its population. So-called failing or collapsing states that, by

definition, are incapable of responsibility were redefined as threats to sovereignty and, consequently, also
to the international system.
Yet, it is not enough that these failing or collapsing states are considered to be undermining the
normative justification of the international system. They are also seen as anomic spaces that harbor
potential terrorists, whose political vacuum leads to refugee flows and social unrest, and that generally risk
infecting the wider world through their anarchic nature. This latter view has notably gained credence
through the American-led war on terror as expressed in the 2002 US security strategy, which identifies
the poor governance of third world countries as a fundamental cause of terrorism and protracted violence.
The main objective of peace- and statebuilding has become to secure international stability through the
policing and controlling of those areas that are considered anarchic spaces without effective government.
This view has been ventilated by authors and policy advisors like Francis Fukuyama, Robert I Rotberg,
Fareed Zakaria, Stephen Krasner, or Robert Kaplan.
As the process of statebuilding is seen to ameliorate the position of the local population, these authors
do not see any particular ethical problem arising from new forms of trusteeship or shared sovereignty, as
Krasner calls it (2004). Consulting the local population is neither a moral nor a legal obligation but merely
a device to enhance legitimacy, and for this an ombudsman scheme should suffice. The control of the
international administration is primarily an administrative task of oversight that can be fulfilled by the
international community itself.
In order to fulfill its mandate of securing the anarchic regions of the world, the international
administration need not be accountable to the local populations. Indeed, Krasner argues that international
administration has become necessary exactly because the local population, and particularly its politicians,
have proven their incapacity to rule the country. In the view of these authors, democracy necessarily
succeeds institution building under the logic that the main aim of peace- and statebuilding is the military
and institutional stabilization of the country. For these authors, interventions do not constitute a violation of
sovereignty for the very reason that our understanding of sovereignty has changed with the end of the Cold
War. Sovereignty has been redefined as responsibility in the international realm as well as responsibility
toward citizens. Sovereignty has never been fully realized by the kind of states in which statebuilding takes
place, and, worse, this failure makes them apparent hosts to organized criminality, breading grounds for
terrorism, and the starting point of undesirable forms of migration and refugee flows.
Consequently, trusteeships have become a necessity in order to enforce the new norm of sovereignty.
This view has not vanished over the years of protracted conflict in Iraq and fading progress in Afghanistan,
as a recent article in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences shows. The
article spells out 40 recommendations for the future US president, many of which are military in nature,
and forced democratization holds a strong place among the suggestions to eradicate terrorism (Bergen and
Footer 2008).

Statebuilding to Save Lives

In sharp contradistinction to the advocates of statebuilding as security policy, many defenders of
statebuilding put forward ethical goals based on the notions of sustainable peace, durable peace, or human
security. The paradigm of human security has been established in numerous policy documents from
nongovernmental organizations, the UNDP, and most notably the Human Security Report published
annually since 2002 by the Human Security Centre.
The concept of human security advances the idea that human rights and individual safety are at the core
of the international politics of development and security. Such a widened concept goes far beyond the
world-order approach to peacebuilding sketched above. Advocated at the end of the 1990s through the
Millennium goal pledges of the United Nations, the concept of human security was defined as the creation
of an environment in which people live, according to the then Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi
Annan, in a world free of fear and free of want. The concept built on a decade of redefining the
concepts of security, sovereignty, and development. Notably, the concept of human security was
promulgated by the Human Development Report in 1994 and the increasing consensus within the United
Nations system over so-called humanitarian interventions and peacebuilding, voiced first in Boutros
Boutros-Ghali's 1992 Agenda for Peace, then reiterated in the 1995 addendum and again in the 2000
Brahimi Report (Brahimi 2000).

Sponsored by the Japanese government, the Human Security Commission developed this concept
further in its Human Security Report in 2001. The report seeks mainly to distinguish the concept of human
security clearly from the state-centric concept of national security by focusing on the well-being of
individuals and not states, and by integrating the modified notion of sovereignty as responsibility of
governments toward their citizens and global humanity. Human security exists if the government pursues
policies aimed not only at the protection from physical violence, but also at public health, economic
development, public education, and the general welfare of the people. The work of the Commission has
been carried on by the Human Security Centre (n.d.;, which continues to monitor
progress of the development goals defined in the first Human Security Report.
The need for peace- and statebuilding is therefore not legitimated through egoistic considerations of
national security but through a concern for the global well-being of populations. Simon Chesterman,
Michael Ignatieff, and Ramesh Thakur (2005), for instance, condemn the US-American Security Strategy
as being too shortsighted and simplistic. The aim of peace- and statebuilding ought not to be merely to
make the state work but also to build a democratic state in which human rights are respected and wealth
redistributed in order to prevent individuals or small groups from mobilizing discontent and fear that will
consecutively escalate into war. If these authors agree with national security scholars that civil war
territories are breeding grounds for terrorism and organized crimes, they nevertheless consider welfare
policies to be a better remedy to these risks than simply policing these sanctuaries. Consequently, these
authors advocate long-term strategies with substantial funding and involvement of various international
actors in order to develop these countries. As Chesterman states, Resolving the contradictions [of
statebuilding] requires an acceptance that even where the ends of transitional administrations may be
idealistic, the means cannot be. The challenge, then, is to manage the interests of the various international
and local actors through a framework that provides a realistic opportunity for the population in a territory to
take control of their political destiny (Chesterman 2004:9).
Most importantly, these authors differ in their visions of how statebuilding should be executed. As the
aim of these missions ought to be protection and empowerment of the local population, they see a
fundamental dilemma in the neocolonial appearance of statebuilding and its aims. They often call for
greater attention to the local population and for projects that focus on the empowerment of those groups
that are seen as particularly vulnerable such as minorities, children, women, and the elderly. They also
advocate a greater coordination and consistency in the planning of the missions and in designating clear
responsibilities. Usually, the United Nations is seen as the ideal decision-making body for and executor of
statebuilding missions. As such, reform of the UN generally appears as the primary item on the list of
recommendations made by these authors.

Forms of Statebuilding
According to whether peace is defined negatively as the absence of war or positively as human security,
different strategies are suggested for successful statebuilding. In order to understand these strategies, one
must first address the major disagreements that exist as to which causes of war and state failure are more
relevant. In fact, statebuilding represents a series of problems; not only do these programs have the goal of
establishing peace among warring parties, but also they have to transform societies fundamentally. This
requires changing the politicoadministrative institutions, and the political culture and forms; transforming
and developing the economy into full-fledged market economies; and creating pluralistic, democratic, and
tolerant societies. One common approach is to consider peace- and statebuilding as tool-kit exercises where
the right mix of different components will lead to success.

Tool-Kit Approaches
One way of making sense of statebuilding is to consider it as being composed of multiple components
and to develop an understanding of how these might fit together. Some of these models try deliberately to
reduce complexity by simplifying the conflict and the statebuilding dynamics, whereas others develop
rather complex models that try to capture the global dynamics of statebuilding.
Michael Doyle and Nicolas Sambanis (2006), for instance, have developed the peacebuilding triangle,
which condenses the statebuilding situation to a threefold relationship between local capacities,
international capacities, and the level of local hostility. Nevertheless, this relationship is not symmetrical as
Doyle and Sambanis emphasize the heightened importance of the role of local dynamics in their triangle.
On the one hand, the success of statebuilding depends on the economic and institutional resources available

in the country; on the other hand, the level of hostility persisting after a cease-fire will determine the actors
willingness to cooperate and collectively rebuild the country. International interventions must aim at filling
the gaps that exist on these two local dimensions. For example, if the hostility is too great to make a
comprehensive peace agreement possible, the international community needs to focus its efforts on
establishing fair conditions of peace, including disarmament and provision of security. If the local
capacities are weak, the international community must emphasize development assistance that furthers the
economic, administrative, and infrastructural capacities of the postconflict states. From these lessons Doyle
and Sambanis establish a seven-step plan for peace- and statebuilding: (1) establish national security, (2)
establish regional security, (3) allow quick wins in the form of humanitarian assistance and
reconstruction of infrastructures (energy, roads, and buildings), (4) establish the rule of law, (5) ascertain
the right to property, (6) launch participatory democratic processes, and, finally, (7) initiate genuine moral
and psychological reconciliation (Doyle and Sambanis 2006:341).
Even though Doyle and Sambanis admit that these steps do not have to occur in consecutive order, they
give little advice on how each of these steps can be achieved and how they are related to each other. Yet,
despite its vagueness, Doyle and Sambanis seven-step plan reflects common wisdom of the policy
advising literature in statebuilding. The United States Institute of Peace similarly promotes a framework
for success for fragile states and societies emerging from conflict in which the following five elements are
presented as cornerstones of durable peace: a safe and secure environment, the rule of law, a stable
democracy, a sustainable economy, and social well-being (n.d.; see The RAND
Corporation, in its The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building (2007), suggests, similar to Doyle and
Sambanis, to first establish physical security through military and police reform, then strengthen the rule of
law, respond to immediate needs of the population through humanitarian assistance, and make sure that an
effective government is in place; from there on, statebuilders need to pursue the goals of economic
stabilization, democratization, and development. The OECD, too, in its Principles for Good International
Engagement in Fragile States and Situations, argues that priority should be given to ensuring security and
justice; mobilizing revenue; establishing an enabling environment for basic service delivery, strong
economic performance and employment generation (OECD, 2007). Neither of these organizations
explores the question of how exactly this can be done in complex conflict situations that usually imply,
among other difficulties, a strong hostility against the intervening forces themselves.

Delving into Local Contexts

One major problem with the analysis and, more specifically, with the practice of contemporary
statebuilding is the lack of social sensibility. Local actors are often characterized and compartmentalized
based on their immediate interests in the postconflict situation that do not reflect their social positions and
their collective struggles over power in political, social, and cultural terms. Notably the model or tool-kit
approaches distinguish only vaguely between the social strata and groups within and among warring
parties. Furthermore, the dynamics of statebuilding and social class formation remain unseen and
neglected, which is in direct contradiction to some of the major insights of the democratization and
liberalization literature of the previous decade.
Barnett and Zuercher's peacebuilder's contract focuses specifically on the difficulties of managing the
local context as the starting point for their model (2007). Contrary to the approaches above, they do not
assume that statebuilders are parachuted into postconflict situations and then simply have to do
something, but rather that they are constitutive of the conflict situation itself. Barnett and Zuercher
observed in the case of Afghanistan that statebuilding fundamentally influences the power strategies of
local actors who will, according to their goals and resources, try to capture and detour statebuilding efforts
for their own interests. Once the statebuilders are seen as a constitutive element of the local situation, the
meager successes of statebuilding can be explained as results of negotiations and strategic games between
national elites, subnational power rivals, and internationals. Notably, the problem of establishing security,
which is largely dependent on the local elite's willingness to cooperate with international security forces,
becomes a bargaining token with which local elites will haggle over other resources like the access to
humanitarian aid, infrastructures, parts in government, and so on.
They distinguish four types of outcomes from this interaction. First, in the case of cooperative
statebuilding (or, in their terminology, peacebuilding), all three actor groups agree on the projects and the
distribution of its benefits; however, in a second case scenario where statebuilding becomes a stake in
strategic power games between the different actor groups, the best outcome to hope for is compromised


statebuilding in which the international peacebuilders will swap cooperation in some issues against
stalemate in others. Yet, in a third possible outcome, if too many of the statebuilder's projects and resources
are captured by local elites, Barnett and Zuercher speak of captured statebuilding, which can develop into
conflictual statebuilding (the fourth possible outcome). This is a scenario when both sides, internationals
and domestic actors, may opt for coercive tools (violence) to (re)capture these resources and achieve
their objectives. Overall, as local elites will almost always try to get a hold on state-building projects,
Barnett and Zuercher argue that compromised peacebuilding has become the norm. This explains not only
the mixed success of statebuilding missions but also their long duration. As statebuilders become deeply
involved in local power struggles and as projects become compromised, exit strategies cannot be
implemented and the international missions continue over years and years.
Apart from the obvious evidence of the never-ending missions all over the world, quite a number of
empirical studies support Barnett and Zuercher's thesis of the statebuilders becoming a constitutive part of
the postconflict local power struggles. Roland Kostic (2007, 2008) has shown for Bosnia how much the
Office of the High Representative (OHR) and the statebuilding project it represents have become pivotal
players in the Bosnian political field, determining not only how local elites place themselves with respect to
each other in daily politics but also how the OHR's position is structuring the more general political ideas
about nation, state, and society. Beatrix Pouligny (2004) has carefully analyzed how the sheer presence of
statebuilders, even more than their actions and projects, has transformed local societies and politics.
Beyond showing that statebuilding is never a neutral, objective job to be done by outsiders, and that
already the notion of intervention has been misplaced as it implies a determined plan of goal achievement
and exit, these empirical studies point to the huge variety of ways in which statebuilding becomes
compromised. Already, Barnett and Zuercher's three-tier model of international statebuilders, national
elites, and subnational local elites appears too short-handed for most societies, which are much more
complex as elites not only span transnational networks but also are socially, economically, culturally, and
ethnically much more diversified and stratified. Again, it is useful to recall the insights of the historicalsociological studies on state formation in Europe, namely, the finding that the particular form of a state is
contingent upon struggles between social groups, and not upon institutional design. External statebuilders
intervene exactly in those social struggles and become part of them.

Coordination and the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission

Whereas on the one side, local constraints and strategies mold statebuilding missions, the international
community itself is seen as a major problem in the statebuilding process. Despite its commonly used name,
the international community is far from being a consistent community. On the contrary, in the case of
statebuilding it is necessary to distinguish carefully between all the international agencies, state actors, and
nongovernmental organizations that participate in these missions. Not only are they very different in
financial endowment and in their organizational capacities, but also their aims and goals may vary sharply
and create insolvable contradictions between various mandates. The cry for better coordination among
agencies, for clearer leadership in the statebuilding community, and for greater financial as well as
organizational independence from donors is usually a key conclusion of reports, papers, and books on
The 2004 report of the General Secretary's High Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change entitled A
More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility (UN, 2004) was the last report in a row of assessments of
the United Nations peacebuilding capacities. It prominently called for better coordination amongst all
actors involved in peace- and statebuilding. The report prompted the creation of the United Nations
Peacebuilding Commission through the General Assembly Resolution 60/180 and the UN Security Council
Resolution 1645 (2005) of December 20, 2005. Yet extended negotiations about its composition and
procedures made the commission take up its work only in late 2006.
The Peacebuilding Commission is a consultative body that works on the basis of consensus among its
members and at the request of the state in which the peacebuilding mission ought to take place. Its mandate
is to provide information about peacebuilding needs, and to offer a forum of exchange and coordination in
institutional-procedural and financial matters, for all involved parties. It has no decision-making power of
its own, yet it is hoped that it can clear the field in advance of missions, set priorities, assign
responsibilities, and anticipate coordination problems, thus heightening the efficiency of peacebuilding
measures. It has a standing fund to allow initiative projects and ease transition gaps between immediate
humanitarian assistance during and just after conflict, and longer term recovery. The fund has a target of


$250 million, of which, as of April 2009, roughly $102 million has been allocated to projects in Burundi,
Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Cte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Haiti, Kenya, and Nepal.
The peacebuilding commission has also taken up its own tasks like the Working Group on Lessons
Learned, which aims at formulating strategies on the basis of lessons learned from previous peacebuilding
Even though it is correct that all peacebuilding and statebuilding missions have remained underfunded
(at least with respect to the initial pledges, even though some like Kosovo have been funded much more
generously than others) and that there are time and again cases of shared goals but failed coordination
efforts, Roland Paris has pointed out that most of what has been labeled as a coordination problem is in fact
a reflection of fundamental differences in the aims, values, and worldviews of the agencies involved (Paris
and Sisk 2009). These differences can be seen in the three main categories of statebuilding actors.
First, states, which remain the ultimate legitimating bodies of statebuilding through the United Nations,
have differing views on how much intrusion international law may and should allow. These differences
could recently be best observed in the debates between the European Union and the US with China over
intervention in Sudan and Darfur. Yet, even where peacebuilding missions have been decided, the
balancing of different state interests has led in almost all cases to skewed mission mandates (such as, until
recently, the hybrid status of Kosovo as province of sovereign Serbia and as a territory under international
The second dividing line goes between international agencies and their programmatic missions. The rift
between the IMF and World Bank over structural adjustment programs and the effects of globalization,
voiced mainly by the writings of the then World Bank Senior Vice President Joseph Stiglitz, shows clearly
that international agencies do not act as blocks but that important differences exist within the liberaldemocratic market paradigm of peace that make for strongly diverging views on the priorities of
statebuilding. They do so not only because each agency needs to have its own agenda in order to gain a
distinctive profile in global governance, but also because they have very different constituencies.
The same is true, by the way, for most nongovernmental organizations, which, from the outset, have
been closely integrated into statebuilding missions. The generic umbrella term NGO conceals the huge
diversity of organizations that may fall under this categorization. Some of them stem from global networks
of specialized, professionalized organizations, while others are genuine, sometimes amateur, grassroots
organizations with a strong local foothold, while still others are ephemeral mushroom organizations born
out of sporadic indignation or out of simple opportunism. The NGO community is, as are international
agencies, deeply divided over the aims and means of statebuilding. So-called coordination problems often
reflect these divisions rather than problems of compatible working procedures or communication styles.
Furthermore, the focus on information exchange and procedural coordination problems masks the political
nature of statebuilding, presenting it merely as an administrative exercise. Yet, opposition and resistance to
statebuilding and its resulting inefficiencies are more often the consequence of fundamental political and
ideological disagreements between and within local and international actors than the simple lack of

Statebuilding: A New Empire in the Making?

Since statebuilding projects difficulties have become clear with the never-ending mission in BosniaHerzegovina and the painfully slow progress in other internationally administered areas, criticism of these
global governance projects has not ceased. The accusation of a new imperialism goes far beyond the
skepticism of some authors cited above about the efficiency of this or that project. Rather, the moral,
political, and legitimate foundations of statebuilding missions are questioned. Scholars who develop such a
fundamentally critical view are more interested in the patterns of power and domination that are at work in
statebuilding than in its everyday routines (Bickerton et al. 2007). Their goal is precisely not to develop
another policy recommendation catalogue but to unveil the elementary reasons why such global social
engineering projects are bound to create more conflict than they will solve.
Although these authors take very different stands on statebuilding, they agree that the policy-advising
literature fails to acknowledge the fundamental problems of the entire enterprise.
The authors main argument is that with the existing world economic and political structures, states
cannot be rebuilt through UN-administered statebuilding and that, consequently, these projects serve a
purpose other than the well-being of the population, namely, the building of new empires. They also agree


that these empires are substantially different from their predecessors as they rely neither on direct territorial
control and reign, nor on the disciplinary violence of a sovereign power. Rather, they are established on the
grounds of devolution and decentralization of authority to international agencies, NGOs, and ad hoc
interstate bodies and through indirect control. Many of these analyses, though not all, refer to the
Foucauldian concepts of governmentality and biopolitics to capture these new, global forms of
exercising power over the periphery in the name of their own advancement and well-being.
Marc Duffield (2007), for instance, denounces development as a security policy that holds as its
primary goal not the creation of well-being, but the establishment of stability that is necessary for the world
capitalist system to keep up its functioning and search for markets and profits. Duffield draws on the
globalization analyses of Manuel Castells (2004) and David Harvey (2001), who both see globalization as a
capitalist enterprise that divides the world into productive, consumerist (and hence useful) territories and
populations, and waste, unproductive (and hence useless) territories and populations. The latter need
containment and some sort of governance to maintain order and avoid negative effects on the productive
world. Empire is understood as the establishment of a governance structure that upholds this division of the
world by holding the dangerous populace in place yet, at the same time, works for the creation of new
zones for consumption in order to dump the surplus value created in the productive zones of the planet.
David Chandler (2006) defends a very different view of the causes of empire building. Whereas the
empire of post-Marxist analysts has a sense and a meaning, namely, the absorption of surplus value either
by liberating capital factors that allow new investments (Harvey 2001) or by discarding useless
populations (Duffield 2007), Chandler maintains that the core characteristic of the global project of
governance through statebuilding is its denial of responsibility and authorship. With the loss of grand
narratives and grand projects after the end of the Cold War, politics is not about changing the world
anymore but only about remedying negative effects the world might have on individuals. Hence, Chandler
claims, politics in the West, where statebuilding comes from, has moved from collective projects of
revolutionary change to therapy and band-aids. Statebuilding is a patronizing attempt to silence those areas
of the world whose failed modernization risks pose uncomfortable questions for the Western world. The
objective of empire is not to physically control populations, production, or trade as in former times but to
preserve the ideas, values, and norms of the liberal, modern world through the suppression and defamation
of alternative political organizations: The dynamic of Empire in Denial is continually to undermine
centers where social power exists in order to create artificial subjects to be empowered or capacity-built
(Chandler 2006:192). The pathology of world politics is therefore not to be sought in the zones of
statebuilding, but in the West where the evasion of responsibility, claiming that power cannot change the
world, has become the central aim of politics altogether.

Instead of Conclusion
The literature on statebuilding encapsulates a vast number of theories and approaches that more often
than not collide with each other, claim the exact opposite, and mount (contradictory) evidence in support of
their mutually exclusive claims. Still, even though the distinct branches of the literature (historical
sociology, comparative politics, and IR) use very different approaches and methods of analysis, what unites
them is their inquiry into the general structural and policy-making conditions that nurture or impede
statebuilding processes. It could have hardly been otherwise, given that most of the surveyed authors were
deeply influenced by political events that sparked their interests in statebuilding in the first place. Thus,
Rokkan (see Flora 1999) and Tilly not only were interested in getting the picture of European state- and
nation-building right, but also were curious as to whether the insights of historical sociology can tell us
more about a contemporary context of statebuilding beyond the Western European borders. This is also as
true for comparative writers in the field of democratization studies in the 1970s and 1980s (Linz and
Stepan) as it is for the IR analysts (Paris, Chandler) on challenges of external statebuilding in the 1990s and
beyond. Yet, our survey also elucidates a more problematic characteristic of the statebuilding literature a
lack of dialogue across the various disciplines. Many of the claims in the IR literature on external
statebuilding are a mirror image of the previous ones made on democratization (Paris work nicely
encapsulates the similarities between the two). An additional problem is the propensity to repeat the same
mistakes of the previous generations (for example, the early years of optimism of the democratization
literature mirror the early optimism of some IR scholars in regard to statebulding experiments in Bosnia,
Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan).


To sum up, the following topics will arguably define possible trends in the future research on
statebuilding. First, comparative politics is ever more vociferous in raising doubts about the ultimate
destination point for countries in transition. New research points out a direction that would be very familiar
to the likes of Samuel Huntington. In many places, new forms of hybrid regimes, partly democratic and
partly authoritarian, have emerged. In particular, the persistence of populist leaders and politics, rising
abstention rates, and multifaceted forms of exclusion have raised doubts about the smoothness and linearity
of democratization. A similar trend is slowly emerging in the problem-solving stream of the IR literature
that is nowadays open to claims that the correlation between statebuilding and democratization is less
straightforward than originally conceived in the transition paradigm literature. Political attitudes and culture
have come and will continue to be seen as important factors of analysis, although disputes go on as to how
much importance exactly has to be conferred onto them.
Another discernible trend in the statebuilding literature revolves around the slowly emerging
recognition that the interaction between internal and external factors, and their mutual influence and
conditioning, continue to be poorly understood. In other words, a billiard ball model of international
intervention (to use this old image), which situates international and local actors in opposing positions as if
they were autonomous and independent from each other and as if their moves were triggered in a linear
manner by specific stimuli, struggles to recognize fully the political dynamics of peace- and statebuilding.
From the policy perspective, particular blind spots seem to result in the loss of a micro perspective; that is,
what does the local population think, and how does it act in response to external actors moves? Those
critical of statebuilding struggle with their almost exclusive focus on external democratization without
taking into account different local contexts within which such processes take place. Thus one of the future
trends will be in bypassing these omissions (see the recent special issue of Civil Wars journal on
statebuilding 2008).
Finally, nationbuilding is one area of research where different disciplines seem to refrain from engaging
in discourse. Most schools from the IR perspective (irrespective of whether they are critical of statebuilding
or not) approach nationbuilding as a concept of a rather dubious value that can be safely bypassed by
alluding to less contested terms such as institution and democracy building. They do this, however, at their
own peril. As the very entries on nationalism, power sharing and federalism contest in this volume, IR's
benevolent neglect of the sociological and comparative work on various forms of nationbuilding has led to
a dead end when it is confronted with the question of how to explain the failures of democracy-building
strategies in the multiethnic setting of various Bosnias around the world. The work of Jack Snyder (2000)
on early stages of democratization and nationalist conflicts; Stephen Saideman's work (2001) on the links
between ethnic politics, foreign policy, and international conflict; and Philip Roeder's study (2007) on
institutional changes in the age of nationalism represent examples of authors who are already straddling
different fields and aspects of the comparative and IR literature on statebuilding, nationalism, and
The novice to the field is well advised to pick up any of the mentioned authors and start sifting his or
her way through the literature maze. An alternative route is of course to closely follow major journals in the
field that regularly publish articles on state- and nationbuilding.

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Online Resources
Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM), University of Maryland. At, accessed April 28, 2009. The Center's projects are of direct relevance for state- and
nationbuilding. The International Crisis Behavior project gathers data on all international crises since the
end of World War I. The Minorities at Risk project monitors the status of politically active communal
groups around the world. The Polity project tracks regime characteristics for independent states from 1800
to the present.
Center for Systemic Peace (CSP). At, accessed April 28, 2009. The CSP
regularly monitors and reports on global, regional, and state levels of conflict, governance, and (human and
physical) development. The Center is affiliated with the Center for Global Policy at George Mason
International Conflict Research (INCORE). At, accessed April 28, 2009.
Established in 1993, INCORE is a joint project of the United Nations University and the University of
Ulster. Combining research, education, and comparative analysis, INCORE addresses the causes and
consequences of conflict, peace, and statebuilding in divided societies.
International Crisis Group (ICG). At, accessed April 28, 2009. The International
Crisis Group is one of the world's leading independent, nonpartisan sources of analysis and advice to
governments and intergovernmental bodies like the United Nations, European Union, and World Bank on
the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict.
Post-Conflict Reconstruction (PCR) Project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
At, accessed April 28, 2009. The Center is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization
headquartered in Washington, DC. In 2002, the CSIS established the PCR Project as a leading global


source for authoritative analysis, evaluation, and recommendations for fragile states and postconflict
Program on States and Security. At, accessed April 28, 2009. The Program
was established in 2004, and its main projects focus on the importance of fostering communication between
academic researchers and those who make and implement policy related to statebuilding, state capacity,
and state failure. The director of the Program is Professor Susan Woodward, City University of New York.
Sustainable Peacebuilding Network (SPN). At, accessed April 28, 2009. The
SPN is an international research initiative involving more than 20 scholars under the direction of Professors
Roland Paris and Timothy Sisk. The network examines the requirements for sustainable peace in countries
emerging from civil wars.
UK Stabilisation Unit. At, accessed April 28, 2009. The Stabilisation Unit
is a UK government interdepartmental unit that helps improve the UK's ability to support countries
emerging from violent conflict.
United Nations Peacebuilding Commission. At, accessed April 28,
2009. The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) is an intergovernmental advisory body of the United Nations
that supports peace efforts in countries emerging from conflict.
The Peacebuilding Initiative. At, accessed May 4, 2009. Developed by
HPCR International in partnership with the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office and in
cooperation with the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University, the
Initiative aims to enhance the work of peacebuilding practitioners and policy makers by facilitating
information sharing, promoting critical discussion, and building the peacebuilding community.
The Peacebuilding Portal. At, accessed May 4, 2009. The Peace-building
Portal supports multilateral collaboration and networking on conflict prevention and peacebuilding by
offering local, national, and international stakeholders a web tool to strengthen their work with each other
and the United Nations and better respond to issues surrounding human security, peacebuilding, and

About the Authors

Catherine Goetze is head of the International Studies Division at the University of Nottingham in
Ningbo, China. She has worked on civil society building in postconflict societies, humanitarian assistance,
and conflict analysis, and is generally interested in the structure and constitution of global society. Recent
publications include Global Governance und die asymmetrische Verwirklichung von global citizenship in
a special issue of Politische Vierteljahresschrift on global governance, edited by Michael Zrn and GunnarFolke Schuppert; and When Democracies Go to War in Global Society 22 (1), 2008. E-mail:
Dejan Guzina is associate professor in political science at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo
(Ontario, Canada). His major research interests are in federalism, comparative democratization, and ethnic
politics. Dr. Guzina's current research project is on state- and nationbuilding in southeastern Europe. Dr.
Guzina has published in several international journals, including National Identities and the International
Journal of Politics, Culture and Society. Together with Professor Catherine Goetze, he coedited a special
issue of the journal Civil Wars on statebuilding, Vol. 10 (4), 2008. E-mail: