State fragility and international recognition

Authored by: Nicolas Lemay-Hébert

Routledge Handbook of State Recognition

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815354871
eBook ISBN: 9781351131759
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter considers how the evolving norms and practices of international recognition relate to the ‘state fragility’ policy agenda. First, the chapter discusses contemporary state failure and state fragility discussion, introducing the ‘consensual’ definition of state fragility and its origins. Second, it directly links the (modern) state fragility discussion with international recognition and statebuilding issues. The chapter shows that the conventional criteria for statehood do not include standards relating to the capacity of state institutions and contain no formal provisions for withdrawing statehood in the event of failure to meet objective standards of state capacity or performance. Nevertheless, there have been academic debates about the possibility of the ‘decertification’ of statehood when states do not meet normative standards set by the ‘international community’. Finally, the chapter closes on the very recent discussion of state fragility, tying the concept with resilience and risk.

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