Global Governance, Expert Networks, and "Fragile States"

Leonard Seabrooke, Ole Jacob Sending

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This chapter explores the evolution of the governance of so-called “fragile states” as a case of change in the architecture of global governance. Reduced funding from states and broader ideational trends about managerialism and effectiveness have rendered international organizations (IOs) less important in defining policy responses and assigning roles to other actors. This change in the governance architecture has engendered more networked and market-based forms of governance, with different stripes of professional networks becoming more important. The chapter argues that this transformation helps explain substantive changes in how fragile states are governed: in the 1990s and into the early 2000s, the treatment of fragile states was dominated by a “peacebuilding” approach focused on building institutions to support the rule of law and democracy, and with IOs such as the UN and the World Bank in authoritative roles. Gradually, over the course of the 2000s and 2010s, this approach became bifurcated, which reflects the prominence of professional networks and the reduced authority of IOs to define an overarching framework: military professionals in states advanced “stabilization” and counterterrorism – focused on fighting insurgents and conducting anti-terrorism operations – while networks consisting of humanitarian and human rights professionals advanced a focus on protection of civilians.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Governance in a World of Change
EditorsMichael N. Barnett, Jon C. Pevehouse, Kal Raustiala
Number of pages28
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9781108915199
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Fragile states
  • International organizations
  • Non-state actors
  • Professionals
  • Networks
  • Military
  • Counterterrorism
  • Humanitarian
  • Development
  • Peacebuilding

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