State Building State Fragility Monitor




Nuno Canas Mendes



Tiago Ferreira Lopes


Research Team


Nuno Canas Mendes

Tiago Ferreira Lopes

Moisés Silva Fernandes

Monica Ferro

Pedro Nuno Parreira

Associated Researchers

Reinaldo Saraiva Hermenegildo,

Francisco Pereira Coutinho

Francisco José Serra Briosa e Gala

Junior Researchers

André Saramago

Marco Andrea Vallino


Nuno Ferreira


Armando Serra Marques Guedes

Gudmund Jannisa

Jarat Chopra

Luis Manuel André Elias

Tanja Hohe


Research group

Southeast Asia and South Asia


In the last couple of years there has been a growing interest on the subjects of State building and State fragility; also, the expanding tribe of scholars, practitioners, experts and otherwise interested people in the subject has prompted the appearance of several resources that most of the time are scattered around in research centers, networks, academia, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and think tanks.

Since its inception the “State Building and State Failure Debate in International Relations: The Case of East Timor” research project PTDC/CPO/71659/2006 founded by FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia) and hosted by the Orient Institute has aimed to be both a hub and a meeting point for researchers, teachers, specialists and the general public on State building and State fragility related matters.

We come now as a Monitor in order to fulfill the core tasks we committed ourselves to in the R&D Project: to contribute to the study of these themes; to facilitate the sharing of experiences and knowledge amongst the community of scholars and practitioners; to disseminate the knowledge products produced by us but also the ones we’ve identified throughout this project’s tenure; and also to promote a wider understanding and interest on the ongoing debate on State building and State fragility.

To these tasks we add now the aim of becoming a hub for further production: connecting people, facilitating knowledge-sharing-experiences and also engaging the general public in the debate, modestly hoping to make a contribution to this field of study.

On conceptual clarity, OECD gives us a hand: taking State building as an ‘endogenous process to enhance capacity, institutions and legitimacy of the State driven by State-society relations’;

State fragility we define as a stadium when ‘State structures lack political will and/or capacity to provide the basic functions needed for poverty reduction, development and to safeguard the security and human rights of their populations’.

In what concerns the concept of ‘State failure’ or ‘Failed States’ we adopt our own definition, according to which, a failed State is a State that has reached an extreme situation of degradation of its internal order. In these cases, the institutional expression of the State itself is found lacking. All of the State’s territory is fragmented between private actors, and all provision of political goods is also private. There isn’t any public order, and the power in society belongs to those that are stronger in any given moment.

The population is a victim of constant abuses and violations of its human rights, the provision of security depends of the favour of the warlords and the economy is nothing more than an informal and private structure, dominated by criminality. We have chosen to apply this concept only to those extreme cases, such as Somalia, in which the State does not possess anymore any practical existence and it continues to be a reality only from a formal point of view thanks to the will of the rest of the rest of the international community.

Please notice that according to our particular conception, there isn’t a relation of linearity between the classification of ‘Fragile States’ and that of ‘Failed State’. These aren’t two stages in a single sequence of linearity in fragility. We instead argue that these are two different phenomena that should not be confused with one another, and that have their own characteristics, that produce different effects to their societies and that imply different responses from the international society.

The Monitor explores different analytical perspectives ranging from crisis prevention to early recovery, to disaster risk reduction and management, to rebuilding without forgetting the contribution of international and regional organizations.

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Daxiyangguo – Portuguese Journal of Asian Studies

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