From Saving Failed States to Managing Risks: Reinterpreting Fragility through Resilience

Governance and Political Adaptation in Fragile States

Author/s (editor/s):

Nicolas Lemay-Hébert

Publication year:


Publication type:

Book chapter

Find this publication at:
Palgrave Macmillan

Nicolas Lemay-Hébert, ‘From Saving Failed States to Managing Risks: Reinterpreting Fragility through Resilience’, in John Idriss Lahai, Karin von Strokirch, Howard Brasted, and Helen Ware, eds, Governance and Political Adaptation in Fragile States, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

The ‘state fragility’ lens is going through a major existential crisis at the moment. Traditional state fragility indexes are increasingly seen as the extension of the privileged few’s willingness to regulate societies outside of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) area, and the results are being increasingly questioned and rejected by both scholars and practitioners. This has led to a new interest in the resilience and risk management discussion by numerous actors involved in the business of ranking states’ performance. This turn to resilience can be interpreted as both an understanding by many actors of the limits of traditional governance and capacity-building but also as recognition of the new opportunities for the governance of war-torn states. As such, I argue that the ‘fragility as resilience’ framework operates through a twin conception of securitisation: securitisation of the other—pathologising specific states and societies while legitimising international interventions—and securitisation of the self—moving towards new risk mitigation strategies. This chapter concludes on a case study of Haiti, analysing the logics at play behind the ‘fragility as resilience’ framework.

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