By the end of this chapter the reader should be able to:
- Critique how the literature conceptualises fragile post-colonial states.
- Understand how colonialism fractured indigenous sources of legitimacy and did not replace these with meaningful systems that made sense to local peoples.
- Think about what hybrid political institutions might look like, using case examples.
- Locate the arguments for and against the hybrid approach in the context of the human security debate.
Big ideas gained from this chapter include:
- Political hybridity is a combination of modern and customary-traditional norms, values and institutions, as well as international regimes.
- Fragile states are characterized by a sovereignty gap that results in large portions of the population remaining insecure, ungoverned, and ungovernable.
- In some regions with fragile states human security is best ensured through hybrid political systems.
- An important component of sustainable development is ensuring that governing structures are considered legitimate by the governed.
- Many developing countries are hampered by limitations in the capacity, the effectiveness, and the legitimacy of the state.
- In those cases, rational legal sources of power and authority should be balanced by traditional sources in order to maximise human security.
Kevin P. Clements
This chapter is based on collaborations with colleagues at the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland with an AUSAID research grant. I wish to acknowledge my debt to the whole fragile state team at the University of Queensland namely, Drs Volker Boege, Anne Brown and Anna Nolan for all their work on these issues with me in 2007-2008. In particular see Boege et al. (2009).
One of the cornerstones of development aid to developing countries consists of efforts to strengthen central government authority. These efforts are not often as successful as their designers envision. Apart from structural explanations, the reasons lie in the lack of legitimacy that compromises the ability of state authorities to govern outlying areas. Legitimacy is lacking in the eyes of the populace because the central state authority is usually modelled after the Western Weberian pattern and thus foreign to many cultures, whereas traditional sources of authority and customary norms receive much greater respect. The result is often a fragile state in danger of ‘failing’ and poor human security. The most promising way to mitigate this situation is to aim for a ‘hybrid’ approach to governance that makes use of both sources of authority.