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Project: Making States Work: State Failure and the Crisis of Governance

This joint project of UNU, the International Peace Academy (New York) and Harvard University's Carr Center (Cambridge) builds on the report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), The Responsibility to Protect, which focuses on the roles and responsibilities of states vis--vis their own populations and the international community. Central to the project is the question of how political power defined through territorial boundaries is changing and what this means for the international security system. The interdisciplinary project aims at advancing research and policy debate on the changing nature of states.

The main product from this project will be an edited volume, published through the United Nations University Press. The book will focus on addressing situations where the weakness of state institutions become a matter of international concern. This encompasses a range of crises, from states in which basic public services are neglected to the total collapse of governance. What will distinguish the book from the many other accounts of state failure is firstly its focus on constructive engagement, rather than an autopsy of failure. It raises in turn questions of the nature of the state, the forms of strategies by internal and external actors that have worked (and those that have not worked). Secondly, the volume will provide a close examination of the role of power and how to encourage global actors, especially the United States, in such a way that they are constructively engaged in solving these problems.

In preparation of the volume, UNU, IPA and the Carr Center jointly organized two authors' workshops. The first was held on the weekend of November 22-24, 2002, at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in Tarrytown, New York. A second authors meeeting will take place on May 16-18, 2003 and will be held at UNU in Tokyo. The volume is likely to be published by early 2004.

A third meeting, involving some authors and a group of distinguished experts in the field will gather at Magdalen College, Oxford, in September 2003 to discuss dissemination and implementation strategies. Here the focus will be on the distillation of a policy brief for dissemination among the UN community in New York in late 2003.

The project is generously funded by the Government of Australia, the Government of Germany, the Government of Sweden and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The meeting at Magdalen College is generously supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.