Many of the world’s poorest countries can be described as “fragile states” wherein governments cannot or will not provide an environment for households to reduce, mitigate or cope with poverty and other risks to well-being. Many of these states are in conflict or just emerging from conflict. The UNU-WIDER project “Fragility and Development” explored state fragility and its relationship to household vulnerability, noting that there is a lack of research on the economic dimensions of conflict, aid and development in fragile states.
This research brief provides a summary of the various contributions made by this project, including case studies on Iraq, Kosovo, Palestine and Somalia. It also addresses a number of pertinent questions. When are states fragile? What are the costs that fragile states impose on their people and the international community? Should the sovereignty of fragile states be reconsidered? And how can aid flows to fragile states be made more effective?