Fixing Fragility: The Role of the Private Sector and Local Institutions

The report argues that fragility is a syndrome of characteristics: fractured identities, a lack of state legitimacy and capacity, insecurity, a dearth of formal enterprises, and proneness to shocks. These reinforce each other, creating a trap. That fragility is a syndrome, challenges both the conventional diagnosis of a “root cause” (typically some presumed past injustice) and the conventional “solution,” which starts from some future vision of an OECD-style society and deduces an agenda from the differences between that vision and current reality. Foreign troops keep the peace; an election "solves” the legitimacy problem; and in return for aid, the new government “agrees” to a donor wish list of reforms. This approach denies the condition from which the society starts. Foreign troops rapidly become intrusive; an election further divides the society rather than solving the lack of legitimacy; an ambitious reform package cannot be implemented by a state with little capacity. The society is hit by adverse shocks before anything has time to work.