The euphoria that came with the end of the Cold War has been dampened by the continuing outbreak of deadly conflict throughout the world. Some of these conflicts have resulted in the complete breakdown of governments, leading to what has been dubbed “failed states.” As Michael Ignatieff argued in 1993, “huge sections of the world’s population have won the right of self determination on the cruelest possible terms: they have been simply left to fend for themselves. Not surprisingly, their nation-states are collapsing”. ┬áRobert Kaplan’s highly influential 1994 Atlantic Monthly article on the “The Coming Anarchy” offered a more bleak assessment of state failure in Africa. In this neo-Malthusian perspective – the world – especially the South – is beset by increasing crises generated by fast-growing populations, demographic changes and weakening state capacity to regulate conflict.

Anticipating State Failure