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Great Power Responsibility And Failed States: Strengthening Sovereignty?

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Chapter Summary

In the dominant discourses surrounding state-building practices, the issue of the Failed State is commonly held to be the most pressing problem facing global security. This chapter examines the development, content and consequences of the state-building discourse and the treatment of Great Power responsibility within it, and engages with changing theoretical approaches to state sovereignty. It questions the visions of Great Power responsibility and of the non-Western state which are at the centre of international policy-making. The chapter puts the state-building discussion in the context of current problems in conceptualising the role of states and in response to the 1990s decade of humanitarian intervention. It lays out specific problems which highlight the corrosive nature of current policy practices in this area, noting how the redefinition of sovereignty, central to the state-building framework, facilitates the erosion of ties linking power and accountability, enabling Great Power interveners to evade political responsibility.

Keywords: failed state; Great Power responsibility; humanitarian intervention; state sovereignty; state-building



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