The Dilemma of Sovereignty of Failed States in International Law: From the Obligation to Abstain to Intervention

The Dilemma of Sovereignty of Failed States in International Law: From the Obligation to Abstain to Intervention
Prepared By: Professor Georges Labaki
Chairman of the National School of Administration


In recent decades, the international community has been witnessing a broad phenomenon known as “State failure” or “State collapse”[1]. A failed state is a state that is unable to carry out its responsibilities of a sovereign nation-state according to the current international order in defending its borders, providing basic public service to its citizens, and exercising its sovereign authority over its territory in conjunction with protracted internal armed conflicts, and probable infringements of human rights. Furthermore, a failed state that has no effective government could pose a threat to other nations. As such, questions arise about the need for international community intervention in such failed states according to chapter 7 of the UN Charter or the Responsibility to Protect to circumvent the potential threats to international order and security notwithstanding states’ sovereignty.


The concept of state in modern international law

According to modern international law, a state is the stable legal organization of a territorial political community in a structure that allows it to be a person of international law and part of the international community of states that are the fundamental and foundational elements of the United Nations.

In order to be considered a state under modern international law and a person of international law: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory under its control; (c) a functioning government; (d) the capacity to enter in diplomatic relations with other states; and its recognition as a member of the community of nations[2].



The most important and distinctive characteristic of the modern state is its sovereignty. As a matter of fact, only sovereign states have a full international legal personality. State duties are naturally carried out by state institutions at both the internal and external levels.  Internally, sovereignty refers to the state’s exclusive right to exercise power within its borders. A government must be able to exert effective control over the state’s population and territory.

From an international law perspective, collaboration between states is based on the principle of sovereignty of the state that must be respected. Article 2, paragraph 1 of the UN Charter stipulates that:” The Organization is based on the principle of sovereign equality of states.” Thus, the notion of sovereign equality serves as the foundation for states’ collaboration within the international community. This notion of state sovereignty entails that all individuals and property found within a state’s borders are under its sole control.


The concept of failed states

The concept of “failed” States rose to prominence in 1993 with the publication of Helman and Ratner’s paper, “Saving Failed States.” Since then, this paradigm has been widely used to define the phenomena of governments that are unable to retain themselves as members of the international community[3].They are in a status of an implosion of the structures of power and authority, disintegration, and deconstruction of the state. Failed states are unable to fulfill the basic responsibilities of a sovereign state.

There is no clear definition of failed states. A broad definition could be the loss or lack of effective government due to the collapse or disintegration of the state[4]. A failed state is generally a state that does not meet basic responsibilities such as the implementation of the rule of law as well as providing basic public services.  DanielThürer claims that” state failure involves the implosion of structures of power and authority, the collapse of law and order, the selective application of laws, corruption, and the absence of institutions capable of representing the state. Thus, failed states do not cease to exist but cease to function[5] ”.

On the other hand, the former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali defined the condition of the situation of these kinds of states: “A feature of such conflicts is the collapse of state institutions, especially the police and judiciary, with resulting paralysis of governance, a breakdown of law and order, and general banditry and chaos. Not only are the functions of government suspended, but its assets are destroyed or looted and experienced officials are killed or flee the country. This is rarely the case in interstate wars. It means that international intervention must extend beyond military and humanitarian tasks and must include the promotion of international reconciliation and the re-establishment of effective government[6].”

Other common characteristics of failed states are: the weak or ineffective central government having little control over its territory or no control at all, the widespread corruption,  nepotism,  the involuntary movement of populations, who seeks to leave their country with the hope of a better life, the sharp economic decline,  the disproportion of wealth between the developing and the under-developed countries, terrorism, the high crime rate, the judicial incompetence,illiteracy, the lack of protection of civil liberties and human rights, the government’s inability to implement public policies and the lack of physical security for citizens.


Origin of failed states

The causes of the emergence of failed states are often attributed to the decolonization of the 1960s according to the concept of peoples’ self-determination rights according to the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 14 December 1960[7]. At that time, the idea of full independence was prevailing along with the belief that those new states can govern themselves successfully. This trend resulted in the formation of an important number of states, most of them unprepared for self-governing themselves. As a matter of fact, they should have been better prepared to independence. Later on, the Cold War created a dichotomy in international relations whereas some countries such as the Philippines, Zaire, South Vietnam, Somalia received military and economic assistance from the US while other countries such as most African States, and some Asian ones received the Soviet Union support on an ideological basis. A huge human rights abuse resulted from such policies that underdevelopment and bloody dictators for decades. As a result, the finance of developing countries was exhausted and underdevelopment loomed over time.

Finally, globalization hit hard some developing countries economically and had a negative effect on others and on the level of living of their population and as a result, increased the number of failed states.


International legal consequences of the continuity of failed states

Failed states remain subjects of international law even the absence of a government able to ensure the continuity of the states’ functions. In addition, the treaties which the failed state has ratified remain in force.

a-The absence of an effective government

From an international law perspective, the main characteristic of failed sates is the absence of an effective government having the ability to maintain law and order across their territory as a result of anarchy and to restore security. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has identified the characteristics of such failed states as such:

“the disintegration of the organs of the central government, which is no longer able to exercise its rights or perform its duties in relation to the territory and the population;

the presence of many armed factions;

divided control of the national territory, and;

the breakdown of the chain of command within the various factions and their militias[8].”

b-Continuity of states with no effective government

The international repercussions of a breakdown of a failed state are limited. Thus, the legal personality of the state and all rights derived from are preserved.  As a result, the state maintains by law its territorial integrity and is protected by the prohibition of interference in its internal affairs or through military aggression. In fact, international law maintains firmly that, even in the absence of fundamental components of statehood, failed states continue to be recognized as sovereign states under international law.

The UN has regularly reminded the international community of the need to respect the geographical integrity and sovereignty of states whose governments have fallen.  Therefore, the UN have permanently stressed that even if failed states lack an effective government such as Somalia they continue to be members of the UN, and that states without an effective government continue to exist and enjoy the international legal personality. Moreover, in case failed states lack the existence of a functioning government, the principle of continuity of the state is preserved. Thus, according to Article 3(1) of Additional Protocol II to the 1949 Geneva Conventions[9]:“Nothing in this Protocol shall be invoked for the purpose of affecting the sovereignty of a state or the responsibility of the government, by all legitimate means, to maintain or re-establish law and order in the state or to defend the national unity and territorial integrity of the state.” Likewise, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) also states in Article 8(3) [10] that “Nothing in paragraph 2(c) and (e) shall affect the responsibility of a Government to maintain or re-establish law and order in the State or to defend the unity and territorial integrity of the State, by all legitimate means.” Thus, international law prohibits the extinction of states that have lost their effective governments as a result of state failure. However, this situation poses a number of effective problems and difficulties for international stability and security.

c-The incapacity to interact with other subjects of international law

States function through their constitutional institutions and public administration. Therefore, a state deprived of a government is unable to conclude international treaties. For instance, Somalia was unable to ratify the Lomé IV Convention or the Cotonou agreement, thus, preventing it from receiving international assistance. Likewise, no agreements could be reached between Somalia and the World Bank to allow this country to profit from the international organization programs. The same rule does not apply to governments that experience a brief period of ineffectiveness for domestic reasons.

d- The accountability of failed states under international law

Failed states that are experiencing the collapse of their governmental institutions continue to have rights and obligations whether they originate from conventional or customary international law. Indeed, through their institutions and agents, states uphold their obligations to the international community, and such absence gravely jeopardizes the accomplishment of these tasks. In addition, a state is responsible for violations attributable to that state in  the case for example its armed forces exercise its control over those who committed the violation. Thürer makes the point that a state that lacks structures or agents that can act on its behalf is not held accountable on the world stage for violations of international law perpetrated by persons it does not control  on its soil[11].


Identifying failed states

Failed states are a challenge to the Western model of the international order.  Several approaches were developed to determine failed states mainly the Fragile State Index which is based on CAST framework (the Conflict Assessment System Tool) of the Fund for Peace[12] . Both use the following indicators based on  the study of 4 social indicators (Demographic pressures, Refugees or internally displaced people, Group grievance, Human flight and brain drain), 2 economic indicators (uneven economic development poverty and economic decline) , and six political, and military indicators (state legitimacy, public services, human rights and rule of law, security apparatus, factionalized elites, external intervention[13]). 

The index is based on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of 12 indicators each of them based on a scale of 0 to 10, with the 0 being the most stable and 10 being least stable[14]. The higher a state is ranked on the list, the more vulnerable it is[15].

Although the FSI report provides an effective tool of measurement of fragile states that helps to address threats on the domestic and international scale, it measures a state’s failure or success with only the 12 aspects already mentioned, thus excluding several important characteristics such as the decline in mortality rates, or increased access to clean water sources and does not include the Human Development Index even it focuses on institutions to measure what is seen as the human dimension for development.  In addition, it assumes that developed states are stable and sustainable while failed states are powerless.


Failed states and the right 2 protect

The argument for military intervention in failed states is based on the fact that those states have a very poor human rights record, fail in providing their citizens with adequate welfare and the capacity to control their territory, and as result cannot deal efficiently with the threats that originate within their borders like terrorism and different types of trafficking. In light of this situation, the dilemma is: Could the international community resort to the Right to protect or the humanitarian to intervene in failed states by infringing their sovereignty?

In 1992, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Ghali, published his report after the, entitled, “An agenda for peace: preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping.” his report marks  an important evolution in international relations, as the Security Council approved a fundamental shift in allowing intervention and breaching a state’s sovereignty, in cases of severe human rights exploitation[16]. The Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali proposed his concept of “post-conflict peace-building”  that the United Nations must adopt a new political, economic, and social  approach in order to  prevent future conflicts and assist countries  torn apart by war[17].

This intervention purpose is the strengthening of governmental institutions, the protection of human rights through UN agencies assistance and international financial assistance.

Later, Francis Deng, South Sudan’s first independent ambassador to the UN, came up with the concept of “the right to protect”, also known as “R2P.” Subsequently, the Canadian Government set up an International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). The Commission issued a report in 2001, entitled “The Responsibility to Protect”, which was based on Deng’s concept. Accordingly, the 2005 World Summit that took place September 14 to 16 at the UN Headquarters in New York and brought together more than 170 heads of state and government approved the Responsibility to Protect report.  Moreover, the UN Security Council issued Resolution 1674 in its 5430 meeting on the 28th of April 2006, reaffirming its dedication to the “Responsibility to Protect” and its commitment to its implementation[18]. Articles 138 and 139 focused mainly on the right to Protect”, whereas article 138 emphasized on each state’s responsibility to protect its population from genocide and crimes against humanity. On the other hand, article 139, focused on the responsibility of the international community through the United Nations to use all the appropriate means, whether diplomatic, humanitarian, or peaceful means in line with chapters VI and VII of the Charter of the United Nations through the UN Security Council on a case-by-case basis.

In January 2009, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon broadened the interpretation of articles 138 and 139 in his report entitled “Implementing the Responsibility to Protect.” He proposed a three-pillar strategy based on: The protection responsibilities of the state, international assistance and capacity building, and timely and decisive response.

Yet, even when the need for military intervention is evident, there should be well-defined rules for carrying out the operation by the international community.  The following crucial issues must be addressed before carrying out the mission: Just cause, the proportional means of intervention, and who should be authorized to do so. It should also go through the Security Council to get the approval for the military intervention. But there is skepticism concerning getting always the authorization of the Security Council because some states such as the US do not always resort to the Security Council to get the approval to interfere, but rather do it on their own terms.


The practice of the Security Council

In recent times, the Security Council has frequently used Chapter VII of the Charter by the Security Council such as in the case of Somalia (Resolution 794 of 3 December 1992) This was the first time that Chapter VII powers had officially been employed out of purely humanitarian motivations and despite the absence of any external aggression, a situation that occurred again two years later, when the Council adopted Resolution 940 on Haiti. In the case of Haiti, the Security Council noticed that despite the efforts of the international community, constitutional order was not reestablished by the de facto authorities[19]. Therefore, the Security Council’s recent resolutions,  considered that the existence of serious violations of human rights or clear violations of democracy by a state is a threat to peace and is sufficient to justify the Security Council’s use of force to intervene in the internal affairs of a state under article 39 of the UN Charter.

Previously, in a landmark decision concerning the Kurds of Iraq (Resolution 688, 1991) the Security Council declared that serious violations of human rights committed by a state against its own citizens constituted a threat to peace. The Security Council requested the immediate end of this repression and expresses hope in the same context that an open dialogue will take place to ensure that the human and political rights of all Iraqi citizens are respected. Moreover, the Security Council insisted that Iraq allow immediate access by international humanitarian organizations to all those in need of assistance in all parts of Iraq and make available all facilities. The Security Council has significantly allowed peacekeeping forces or nongovernmental organizations to conduct humanitarian operations or to maintain safe zones that it has established for the civilian population, and while doing so it bypassed if needed simple police-keeping operations.

Based on Chapter 7, the Security Council authorized intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina allowing the use of force if necessary in the absence of foreign aggression (Security Council decision 819, 1993). This means that the Security Council can intervene to restore internal order in a failed state under Article 39 of the Charter without obtaining the consent of the concerned state in the name of the need to protect the civilian population.

Thus, the Security Council has profoundly changed the role it was intended to exercise according to the UN Charter by enlarging its interpretation of threat to peace in Chapter 7 to include failed states. Overall, it is evident that the Security Council’s most recent practice regarding “failed State” has developed a broader policy aiming at replacing a failed system of government through initiating longer-term institution and capacity-building efforts, restoration and extension of state authority, and implementing, for example, the promotion of socio-economic recovery and development, strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights,  supporting the emergence of legitimate political institutions and participatory processes, assisting in elections and promoting democracy. Quick Impact Projects (QIPs), which are small-scale projects, designed to benefit the population. QIPs may take a number of forms, including infrastructure assistance or short-term employment generation activities[20].


Rebuilding failed states

The experience of statehood in the post-colonial states reflects the failure of the nation-state model and its inability to ensure political, economic, and social stability. In addition, the Weberian model of modern public administration has proven to be inefficient in most third-world states.   

Therefore, while military intervention can play an effective role in addressing cases of large human rights violations it is important to identify the underlying causes of the conflict and to resort to conflict resolution and peace-building strategies before setting processes of reconstruction and capacity-building of the failed or weak state. Such interventions should aim first to improve the rule of law and reform the justice and security sectors in order to rebuild the trust of the population in its government.

Several strategies that have been attempted to reshape failed states and bring them back to stability and prosperity. Some of these strategies include:

-Peacekeeping and conflict resolution approach: The United Nations and regional organizations often deploy peacekeeping forces to failed states to help manage conflicts and establish peace. These efforts can involve mediation between opposing parties, providing security for civilians, and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid. Yet, these operations can last for decades without contributing to a lasting solution to the conflict.

-State-building and governance reform: Failed states often have weak government institutions, which contribute to instability and chaos. There is a need to restructure government institutions and stimulate good governance through Training and capacity-building for civil servants, supporting democratic elections, and developing and implementing policies that address the expectations of the population.

-Economic development and reconstruction: Failed states often suffer from extreme poverty and lack of economic opportunities, which can contribute to conflict and instability. Therefore, there is a need to stimulate economic growth and create jobs through infrastructure modernization, develop small businesses, and empower women.

-Humanitarian assistance: Failed states often have large populations in need of basic necessities such as food, housing, education, and medical care. International assistance can help ease population suffering.

-Increase developed states’ financial, and technical assistance, support reconstruction and development efforts, funding for infrastructure projects, reform of justice, providing training and capacity-building for local officials and civil servants, as well as providing expertise and resources to help implement structural reform programs.

-Peacebuilding: developed world countries can provide political support to failed states by working with international organizations and regional bodies to help promote stability and conflict resolution. This can involve working with local leaders to develop and implement policies that address the needs of the population and rebuild their trust in their government, as well as supporting democratic elections and initiatives to strengthen the rule of law,

- Preemptive intervention before the economic, political, and security situation collapse. This option is rarely applied as the experience with failed states has clearly warning rated. The Rwanda tragedy is a good example of the failure of the international community. In fact, early calls to introduce reforms in failed states face internal resistance to change as well as international legal challenges linked to sovereignty.


The UN approach: From sovereignty to intervention

From a legal perspective, Article 2(7) of the U.N. Charter states clearly that the organization is not authorized to intervene “in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state,” except when the Security Council is applying sanctions under Chapter VII that was relied upon for sanctions against Iraq, Libya, and Serbia. In other words, the principle of sovereignty stipulates that all the internal affairs of a state are outside the control or authority of the international community. Yet, the need to preserve international peace and security led to the U.N.’s increased involvement in the internal affairs of failed states.

The Security Council SC has broadened its field of activity, notably with regard to the authority given to it in Chapter VII through creating new precedence for the use of force, and by constantly redefining the conditions a situation must meet in order to be perceived as a threat to the peace. Thus, the United Nations has increasingly interfered in areas that previously had been considered as exclusively domestic matters.

In fact, there is an increasing belief in the international community of the need for some limitations on absolute sovereignty by the international community especially when there is a need to provide humanitarian assistance to countries’ populations in distress.  Moreover, state sovereignty was never really exercised for political and economic reasons.

More broadly, governance assistance and delegation of governmental authority for a limited time could be entrusted to the UN to entrust for dealing with the growing number of failed states and their threat to international security, the increasing number of refugees and “boat people”, and the increasing economic discrepancies between the well-being of developed countries and developing ones.

a-Governance assistance

The current practice of economic assistance programs provided by international organizations requires the recipient state to embark on adjustments policies of domestic nature. Such “conditionality” is to be accepted by states to get aid and to control how it is spent. More often, the assistance is linked to the respect of human rights, democratization, the reform of public administration, procurement laws, and fighting corruption. Thus, the World Bank and the IMF require recipient states to restructure their economy, adopt market rules, let the currency float, cut the budget deficit, and decrease the size of the public sector as a condition to get badly needed assistance. Failed states have little choice but to comply because they risk to collapse totally. Under such circumstances, sovereignty is being severely eroded by the limitations over domestic policies. 

c-Direct intervention

The international community’s responded to the situation of the failed states through direct intervention. For example, the U.N. Charter created a system of trusteeship entrusting to the international organization the direct governing of non-self-governing territories or states[21]. Thus, in 1962 and 1963, at the request of the Netherlands and Indonesia, the United Nations governed Irian Jaya -the western half of the island of New Guinea- during that territory’s brief transition from Dutch to Indonesian rule. In 1966, the UN General Assembly placed West Africa –currently Namibia- under the direct responsibility of the United Nations. In 1967, the Assembly established the United Nations Council for South West Africa to administer the Territory until independence. In 1968, the Council was renamed the United Nations Council for Namibia. In 1978, Canada, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States submitted to the Security Council a project to organize, elections for a Constituent Assembly that would be held under United Nations Special Representative for Namibia. appointed by the Secretary-General. The elections, were held from 7 to 11 November 1989. Namibia became independent on 21 March 1990.

In many other instances, the United Nations promoted democratic institutions, helped draft constitutions, and monitored free elections. For example, in Central America, the UN monitored elections in Nicaragua and the democratic process in El Salvador.

In other cases, the UN created for failed states another form of conservatorship through the delegation of certain governmental functions to the U.N. A good example of such a process was applied in Cambodia, which clearly qualifies as a failed state. In fact, a protracted conflict, a bloody civil war, invasions, foreign arms supplies, terrible violations of human rights, huge displacement of its population, and the destruction of its infrastructure have made the country incapable of governing itself amidst attempts to bring peace between warring factions.  As a result, the five permanent members of the Security Council created the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC entrusted with running Cambodia until the organization of elections. The UN became in charge of civil administration and was given the control of five ministries and the supervision of others, had access to all official documents, the right to issue binding directives, and replace personnel in order to create a neutral environment for elections.

In addition, the Cambodians agreed to create a Supreme National Council (SNC), composed of representatives of the four warring factions which acted as unique source of authority, and embodied Cambodian sovereignty. Under the 1991 Paris Agreement, the SNC delegated to the United Nations the full authority needed to ensure that the accords would be successfully implemented.

In fact, the U.N. and the concerned failing state may negotiate a trusteeship agreement, which would contain the essential elements upon which the failing state authorities accept. This requires a carefully negotiated international and international political consensus.

However, this direct administration should not last for a long time because it could raise suspicions in the population of a return of a new kind of colonialism. Such agreements shall be assessed after a maximum period of 3 years to make an appropriate decision to keep or to suspend them.


Challenges of Rebuilding failed states

Post-conflict reconstruction of failed states requires financial stabilization, rehabilitation of infrastructure, development, decreasing public deficits, managing monetary policy, suspending debt repayments, liberalization of the economy, invigorating medical and educational service delivery systems, rebuilding public institutions,  capacity building, financial and economic policymaking, the creation of a policy framework to encourage the private sector to contribute to growth and prosperity, and removing regulations and practices that impede rapid growth. Free elections have to come next because they mean to end conflicts such as in Liberia, East Timor, and Sierra Leone. In fact, elections are always indispensable to the launching of post-conflict democracies, although they polarize already fractured societies, and institutionalize existing de facto forces. 

Although many countries have contributed a large amount of money to failing, weak, and collapsed states the results are mitigated and the number of failed states is still on the rise. Unfortunately, those methods of assistance were often inadequate and require a more systematic and well-planned approach.

In fact, the saving of failed states raises multiple challenges. Although good intentions are obvious, the international community did not adopt a comprehensive policy to deal with states at risk back and intervened on an ad hoc basis. As a matter of fact, the challenges faced by these states are not only economic. They are often identity, ethnically, culturally, or security related.

Moreover, often people have a suspicion that international intervention is a colonial conspiracy with the intent of destroying their sovereignty[22]. For example, the attempt to introduce democracy by force in countries such as  Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya failed and lead to the rise of violence and Islamic fundamentalism. One of the reasons is the fact that donors and UN agencies, focused above all on building a central leadership and a central hierarchy of power. Yet, this is insufficient to solve the problems of states at risk of collapse. On the contrary, interventions to keep at-risk states from failing should concentrate on comprehensive transitional justice, the rule of law, justice reform, security forces rehabilitation, and social, economic, cultural, and political reforms to avoid failure.

Furthermore, unless demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration occur at the end of hostilities, reconstruction effort will fail. Other policies include: The revival of civil society that is always destroyed in failing states; rebuilding the social capital; The implementation of democracy, the freedom of speech, and the accountability and transparency of public officials; And the need for create independent anti-corruption commissions to monitor and sanction corrupt officials and promote transparency.


Conclusion: The failure of nation-states

Failed states pose a serious threat to and the welfare of their citizens and to regional and global stability because they are a potential sanctuary for terrorism, trafficking of drugs and weapons, human trafficking especially in their stateless regions, a situation that is a matter of big concern for the international community. Thus, the spread of the phenomenon of failed states and especially their abuse of human rights requires a new approach in the intervention of the international community. As a matter of fact, attempts to save failed states often face fierce opposition from corrupt local elites, government officials, various interest and rebel groups, and difficulties of reforming state’s institutions, rebuilding infrastructures, the judiciary, the police, and the welfare of their inhabitants and reestablishing trust between people and their government. The international legal community has the obligation to assist in restoring the effective governments of failed states while ensuring the rights of their population to continuous independence, and the integrity of the international legal order.  In fact, foreign intervention has been based on an ad hoc basis, and triggered often by states interests, or when the situation of failed states has reached a critical point threatening international security, But the tide is slowly changing, and the assumption of absolute and exclusive sovereign has passed because in reality the number of state in need for political, security, and economic assistance in on the rise and is depending more and more on foreign assistance. In fact, the exercise of state sovereignty was never matched by reality, especially in ways that the world community has aided states in distress through capacity building, institutional reforms, and all kinds of interference in domestic issues. In fact, there is a need to balance between the needs of sovereignty and the requirements of an increasingly more interdependent world and avoid the return to a new type of colonialism that may fire back on the attempts to reform failed states. Moreover, this new type of direct intervention shall not last for long and has to reestablish democracy and free elections to allow populations to choose their future.



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[1]-   Weaktates are states that still have a legitimate national government largely recognized within the country and by the international community, a situation that failed states lack.   On the other hand, collapsed states designate states suffering from a complete breakdown of government authority in maintaining law and order. It is often an extreme situation whereas state institutions are no longer able to function.

[2]-, accessed on December 21, 2022. Accessed on December 12, 2022.

[3]-   Helman, G. B. and S. R. Ratner ‘Saving Failed States’. 89 Foreign Policy, 1992-3, pp. 3-20.

[4]-   A Collapsed State is the final stage of a failed state.

[5]-   Daniel Thurer,  The Failed State and International Law,,  Accessed on December 3, 2022.

[6]-   Ibid.

[7]-, Accessed on December 12, 2022.

[8]-, Accessed on December 15, 2022.

[9]-, Accessed on December 9, 2023,

[10]-, Accessed on January 15, 2023.

[11]-, Accessed on December 9, 2022.

[12]-  The first Fragile States Index was released in 2005. The score, which is compiled by the publication Foreign Policy, analyses nations using data from the CAST.

[13]-  The OECD publishes an annual Fragile State Report now named State Fragility; also the World Bank publishes its own list of fragile states.

[14]-  Quantitative measurement of state failure involves the creation of indexes and rankings, while the qualitative measurement of a state requires a theoretical framework. This type of measurement displays state failure in three to five stages and is regarded as a process.

[15]-  The twelve CAST indicators, upon which the Fragile States Index is based, cover a wide range of state failure such as corruption, economic decline, inequality, institutionalized persecution, brain drain. https://, What does state fragility means, Fragile State Index, accessed on January 7, 2023.

[16]-  Labaki, D. G. (2013, November ). Intervention and State Sovereignty: The Dilemma of Armed Humaitarian Intervention . ainternational Journal of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, p. 12.

[17]-  An agenda for peace: preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping: report of the Secretary-General pursuant to the statement adopted by the Summit Meeting of the Security Council on 31 January 1992 / Boutros Boutros-Ghali

[18]-  UN Security Council Resolution 1674 (2006): Affirming the Right to Protect Civilians

[19]-  Decision of 16 June 1993 (3238th meeting): resolution 841 (1993) By a letter1 dated 7 June 1993, addressed to the President of the Security Council, the representative of Haiti stated that, despite the international community’s efforts, constitutional order had not been re-established in Haiti because the de facto authorities continued to obstruct all the initiatives that had so far been proposed.

[20]-  United Nations Keeping Operations, (2008 ) › capstone_eng_0, Accessed on January 9, 2023.

[21]-  The UN Trusteeship Council has been inactive since the last trust territory, Palau, became independent in 1994. In such a situation, the UN Charter stipulation that “the trusteeship system shall not apply to territories which have become Members of the United Nations, the relationship among which shall be based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality.” 

[22]-  Lemay-Hébert, N. (2018). From Saving Failed States to Managing Risks: Reinterpreting Fragility Through Resilience. Governance and Political Adaptation in Fragile States, 75-101.

إشكالية الدول المارقة في القانون الدولي

البروفيسور جورج لبكي


يشكل موضوع الدول المارقة أحد أبرز تداعيات النظام العالمي المنبثق عن الأمم المتحدة وبعد حصول معظم بلدان العالم الثالث على استقلالها منذ منتصف القرن الماضي. ويُقصد بالدول الفاشلة تلك التي تخلّفت عن ركب التقدم الاقتصادي والتي ينعدم وجود المؤسسات العامة فيها بشكلٍ كبير وكذلك عدم سيطرتها على كل أراضيها. أما الحل فهو يصطدم بمبدأ سيادة هذه الدول كما هو منصوص عليه في ميثاق الأمم المتحدة. وينتج عن كل ذلك، خلل كبير بين دول الشمال ودول الجنوب وكذلك حركة محفوفة بالمخاطر باتجاه الدول المتقدمة.

وبالنهاية فإن فشل هذه الدول يعود إلى انعدام بناء هوية وطنية جامعة لا بد من توافرها كشرطٍ أساسي لتقدّمها.

إن مجالات الإصلاح كثيرة من النظر بإعادة هيكلة القطاع إلى تطبيق إجراءات خاصة بترشيد الإنفاق والتخصيص المناسب للموارد. ومن أجل المضي في هذه الإصلاحات، يجب أن يكون التركيز دائمًا على أهمية صنع السياسات القائمة على الأدلة، والحكم الرشيد، وثقافة الانفتاح والشفافية.