Good Governance & Fragile States

There are many countries where people are faced with the serious effects of weak governance, limited administrative capacity, chronic humanitarian crisis, persistent social tensions, violence, or the legacy of civil war. Poverty reduction and basic human security are extremely difficult to achieve and sustain.

Identifying “fragility” in these countries is the first item to analyse and one should clearly focus on the factors which cause and perpetuate fragility. In fragile situations, causes and symptoms often become mutually reinforcing. In different settings to varying degrees, they include unjust power structures; economic domination by an ethnic, caste or religious elite; and the exclusion and/or oppression of certain groups.

Fragility involves a variable degree of regional, national, or local instability, which is rooted in a mix of political, institutional, economic, social, cultural, and/or environmental factors. It refers to weak or failing structures and institutions but also to situations where the social contract is broken due to a states' incapacity and/or unwillingness to deal with its basic functions and meet its obligations in terms of public service, service delivery, and its responsibilities regarding the rule of law. Fragility, as a highly complex and overlapping set of factors, can be prevented. Fragility cannot be prevented by external agencies only.

One of the key components of a society not affected by fragility is the conflict resilience of citizens and institutions. Democracy and its practices are foundational to the work of Pax Christi as a member-driven, grassroots organisation. Every democracy must be participative.

Pax Christi International recognises that as such, the struggle for human rights relies strongly upon citizens of nations and of the world. It is their responsibility to actively, consciously, and without fear of retribution or recrimination play their role within the political sphere. In situations where institutions of democracy are repressed or outlawed, we must campaign for their introduction; in situations where these institutions are subverted or ignored, they must be restored; in situations where the establishment of these institutions is in its infancy, they must be encouraged and supported. This is a broad task, which varies greatly based on local conditions and factors.