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    Fragile states expose their societies to the risk of meltdown or collapse, endangering the lives of their citizens and leaving them unable to sustain ordinary life. When this happens, famine, violent disorder and economic distress can displace many millions of people, with consequent impacts on surrounding regions. State fragility can also threaten global security by providing safe havens for terrorist groups and for drug and human traffickers, and by increasing the threat of disease pandemics and mass migrations. Fragile state as a concept has gained currency since the 1990s, characterised as distressed states that generally have weak capacity to perform state functions and drive development.1 International institutions apply various approaches in defining state fragility. The World Bank uses an institutional approach. Accordingly, fragile states are those that suffer from weak policies, institutions and governance.2 Others, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), also emphasise legitimacy.3 However, the precedence of the institutional approach in assessing state fragility has been criticised for underestimating the role of (local) perceptions of the legitimacy or the state and society relations.4 Some scholars, such as Migdal, Brinkerhoff and Ikpe,5 emphasise state– society relations in understanding state resilience and weaknesses. This calls for a holistic approach in studying state fragility, which can account both for state capacity and authority as well as legitimacy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationState Fragility : Case Studies and Comparisons
    Editors Nematullah Bizhan State Fragility : Case Studies and Comparisons, edited by Nema
    Place of PublicationNew York
    ISBN (Print)9781003297697
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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