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Fixing Fragile States: Challenges and Opportunities for Multipolar Cooperation Seth D. Kaplan Author, Fixing Fragile States: A New Paradigm for Development.

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Presentation on theme: "Fixing Fragile States: Challenges and Opportunities for Multipolar Cooperation Seth D. Kaplan Author, Fixing Fragile States: A New Paradigm for Development."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fixing Fragile States: Challenges and Opportunities for Multipolar Cooperation Seth D. Kaplan Author, Fixing Fragile States: A New Paradigm for Development Managing Partner, Alpha International Consulting, Ltd. January 2010

2 © Seth D. Kaplan Purpose and Scope Explain the importance of fragile states and why outside efforts to help them have failed Discuss the growing role of non-Western actors in these countries Explain why these non-Western states have different priorities and interests from the West Propose how the West might better cooperate with non- Western actors to tackle state fragility

3 © Seth D. Kaplan Importance of Fragile States Fragile states have attracted considerable attention among Western countries in recent years, but their problems and the dangers they pose have not diminished Fragile states typically face a combination of unique challenges: pervasive intergroup conflict, corrupt officials suffocating vacuous institutions, a dearth of skilled workers made worse by a prolific brain drain, poor investment climates, and great poverty Numbers vary, but it is generally accepted that up to 60 countries are fragile; these are mainly in Africa, but many of the most important for international security — Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia — are in the Greater Middle East Governed corruptly, incompetently, or not at all, fragile states inflict misery on their own citizens, whose basic needs go unmet and who endure grinding poverty They also generate regional and global instability: “When they give rise to cross-border terrorism, refugee flows and international crime, fragile states pose a global security risk and a direct threat to international, and therefore Dutch, interests” (from a Dutch Foreign Ministry report)

4 Causes of State Fragility (My Take) Fragile states are plagued by two structural problems—political identity fragmentation and weak national institutions—that together preclude the formation of any robust governing system, severely undermining the legitimacy of the state and leading to political orders that are highly unstable and hard to reform The lack of social cohesion in these countries—because of ethnic, religious, clan, or geographical fractures—yields societies unable to regulate their members and states uncommitted to inclusive development The conflict between formal and informal institutions produces weak rule of law while undermining the ability of local peoples to take advantage of their own capacities to govern The riskiness of holding assets and of conducting business precludes most private investment Fragile states are systemically disadvantaged because of their inappropriate formal institutions—and only by reforming these can fragile states be helped © Seth D. Kaplan 20104

5 The International Community’s Mixed Record on Fragile States International aid agencies and development institutions have a mixed record in dealing with the causes of state fragility; although they have dealt admirably with humanitarian crises, they have not been able to address the root causes of poor governance The West’s usual prescription for “fixing” states—elections, economic reform, administrative training, and foreign aid—pays insufficient attention to local conditions and capacities The international community’s focus on numerical targets—for aid levels, economic reform, and governance standards—ignores the complex political realities that hold back countries An unwillingness to address the complex identity divisions that divide societies precludes more creative policy A lack of understanding of what drives private investment— especially in micro enterprises—leads to policies that ignore the potential of business to play a constructive role States cannot be made to work from the outside. International action must focus on facilitating local processes, leveraging local capacities, and complementing local actions © Seth D. Kaplan

6 Growing Role of Non-Western Actors China and other non-OECD actors are playing a growing role across the developing world The number of new players is rapidly multiplying: China, India, Russia, Brazil, South Korea, the Gulf states, Turkey, and South Africa are the most notable Strong regional actors—such as Brazil and Turkey—are more influential in their neighborhoods than any Western actor Influence is greater than aid figures suggest: trade, investment, and cultural ties all matter more than aid in many cases A multipolar world promises to significantly weaken Western influence in many parts of the world (from Central Asia to Africa), in many institutions (World Bank, IMF, etc.), and over many international norms (regarding governance, etc.) But these rising powers are anything but monolithic: their interests and policies are far more diverse than those of the West (though no less self-centered); their potential to help (or hurt) fragile states varies widely © Seth D. Kaplan 20106

7 The Growing Influence of China China is now a major economic force across the developing world, boosting growth rates in many countries; its trade with Africa has topped $100 billion (a tenfold increase in 8 years); its cheap exports have enabled millions to buy their first watches, phones, etc. China contributes more UN peacekeepers than any other of the Perm Five (its troops are in 10 active missions: Liberia, the DRC, Haiti, etc.) It is now a leading donor, recently pledging $10 billion in low-interest loans to Africa over three years It is reducing tariffs for products from LDCs, investing in areas long shunned by Western donors (infrastructure, industry, agriculture), and setting up industrial zones in 10 LDCs It has worked hard to develop good relations, sending high-level officials on frequent visits, organizing cooperation forums, preaching “South-South solidarity”; it does not lecture and is nonjudgmental But China’s economic interests—especially obsessive anxiety about natural resource supplies—has often trumped any concern for local welfare It is a major player in countries with poor human rights records (Sudan, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Iran, Burma, Venezuela); many states worry about lost jobs, economic exploitation, and Chinese influence on governments © Seth D. Kaplan 20107

8 Non-Western Foreign Policies Favor Noninterference and Practicality A shared history of colonialism and a distaste for Western attempts to impose its own cultural values color the worldviews of many non-Western peoples Non-Western perspectives on state building are very varied (as well as different from Western views), shaped by each state’s recent history (in dealing with secessionism, a politicized military, natural resources, etc.) Non-Western countries thus emphasize the need to respect differences and avoid interfering in others’ domestic affairs Being poor themselves, many rising powers focus on fulfilling immediate practical needs rather than promoting values; even Brazil and India shy away from promoting democracy Many non-Western states are eager to enhance their status and roles in the UNSC, WB, etc. © Seth D. Kaplan 20108

9 Non-Western Countries Emphasize Economic Considerations Business is an important driver of policy, because business can raise living standards at home, which is a major national priority Late-developing countries such as China, Brazil, India, and South Korea (as well as France and Japan in an earlier era) have less confidence in the free market Access to natural resources—especially energy—is a high priority in many of these countries’ foreign policy Many non-Western companies see poor countries as important markets better suited to their competitive advantages Non-Western state-run companies may have wider interests than just making profit (e.g., promoting employment, securing energy resources, pursuing national foreign policy goals) A large pool of poor workers (in China and India) are eager to migrate in search of opportunity and are not averse to working in other poor countries © Seth D. Kaplan 20109

10 Advantages of Multipolar Partnerships Governments, donors, and businesses from both the West and rising countries have much to learn and gain from partnering with each other to tackle state fragility (and other international challenges) The new powers can all gain from Western experience, money, contacts, and technology; but the reverse is also true in many cases Accustomed to some of the same problems facing fragile states (corruption, weak institutions, poor infrastructure, poverty), rising countries may be better equipped in some cases to propose pragmatic solutions that might not occur to Westerners Products and technologies developed in rising countries are often highly appropriate to the people in fragile states; Indians, for example, are pioneering inexpensive cars, portable bank branches, water- purification systems, and battery-run refrigerators People from countries such as Turkey, South Africa, and Brazil may have an easier time adapting to the working environments in fragile states, making them a better fit for international missions there Businesses could better access business opportunity in fragile states by working with companies from complementary countries (China is the largest investor in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and many parts of Africa) © Seth D. Kaplan

11 Obstacles to Multipolar Partnerships Can countries with different worldviews, agendas, and interests share the same stage? Partnerships between Western and non-Western organizations are challenging because of differing values, working styles, and cultures Different working styles are especially hard to accommodate in horizontal relationships (like partnerships), where no one is in charge and which require constant dialogue and compromise (hard to achieve where customs, norms, and language skills differ) Where national interests diverge, partnerships will be hard to establish; there are sound geopolitical reasons why the Chinese support North Korea, Burma, and Sudan and why the West does not © Seth D. Kaplan

12 Toward Multipolar Partnerships: Macro Steps International organizations (such as the UNSC, WB, WTO, etc.) must make room for non-Western states to play roles commensurate with their rising stature; but these countries must, in turn, be willing to share more of the burden of securing international public goods Given the number of troops from non-Western countries in peacekeeping missions, officials from those countries should play a greater leadership role—and assume greater responsibility —in UNDPKO and in peacemaking activities Stabilizing Afghanistan is a major concern for Russia, China, and India, and they should be asked to play a greater role in stabilizing it (e.g., via aid, peacekeeping, participation in a regional forum) New, non-Western donors should be encouraged to do more to help fragile states (as Brazil is doing in Haiti)—and given more say in shaping development policy (e.g., via a G-20 version of the OECD DAC) Institutions (e.g., within the G-20 or on a case-by-case basis) should be created that can develop common ground on issues in everyone’s interests (aid effectiveness, investment, preservation of rain forests, rules of doing business, political stability, agriculture, pro-poor growth) © Seth D. Kaplan

13 Toward Multipolar Partnerships: Bridging Differences at the Micro Level It will be easier to agree on general principles at the macro level than to cooperate on specific projects at the micro level because divergent interests become more apparent in specific situations It is thus essential to invest resources in identifying common interests and values and in developing personal relationships and trust (e.g., via symposia of experts, joint reports, and direct discussions) before pursuing cooperative ventures New institutes should be created to encourage Western and non- Western cooperation, build mutual understanding, and conduct joint research (e.g., an European-Chinese Centre for Development Cooperation could seek to bridge differences, undertake new joint programs, and assist other organizations find channels of cooperation) The more ties that are built, the easier it will be to develop a web of personal relationships that will yield new ideas and projects © Seth D. Kaplan

14 Towards Multipolar Partnerships: Some Suggested First Steps As a start, cooperation could begin in one major area (e.g., peacekeeping, legal reform, technical training) or one country/region (e.g., Afghanistan, Central Asia, Africa) and a joint commission could analyze how to expand from there Western foundations and governments have the chance to invest in the knowledge base of rising countries, all of which suffer from a severe dearth of academics, practitioners, and literature on fragile states and development (China has few Africa, Middle East, and Latin America specialists and most Western literature on development has not been translated); doing so will narrow some of the gaps between rising countries and the West Governments should seek constructive engagement—even cooperation —where interests converge; greater trust and more experience working together will make dealing with more difficult issues easier Individual businesses should create partnerships that take advantage of new technologies, new markets, and new distribution channels; similarly, NGOs could harness new sources of funding, knowledge, and human resources to achieve their goals © Seth D. Kaplan

15 To Sum Up... The international community has yet to solve state fragility Non-Western actors are playing a greater role in the developing world, to which they bring products and attitudes that often resonate with local needs Poor countries should be viewed not as charitable causes but as potential partners The emerging multipolar world calls for new thinking about international institutions and priorities Non-Western players should be given a greater role in shaping development policy but must also shoulder greater political and financial burdens Western and non-Western actors have opportunities for productive cooperation, but seizing these will require more experience of working together, more compromise, more creativity, and more humility; some human values are universal, but each civilization also has its own values and interests, which should be respected Establishing new institutions and forums for dialogue would be a good first step toward forming effective partnerships to tackle state fragility © Seth D. Kaplan


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