• Scholarly report

State Fragility, International Development Policy, and Global Responses

This paper focuses on international development policy responses to fragile and failed states. It offers a historical overview of four generations of responses, examines how state fragility has been defined and measured, discusses the politics of the fragile states label, and summarizes current understandings of how states cycle in and out of fragility. The analysis identifies transnational and country-specific factors that place states at risk. The paper considers pathways that can reduce fragility, noting the limitations of liberal state-building blueprints, and examines the promise of politically informed policy frames that incorporate country context and the agency of local actors. Given the complexity and uncertainty associated with state fragility, coherent global policy responses will remain difficult to achieve.


Brinkerhoff, D. (2016). State Fragility, International Development Policy, and Global Responses. (International Development Working Paper; No. 2016-03). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International.