Nehal Bhuta (EUI), Predicting disorder: « Early Warning » and Indexes of State Failure
The term “failed state” appears to have emerged in the early 1990s, and was used in reference to dramatic cases of state collapse, generally occasioned by severe internal conflict. After September 11, the security threats associated with state failure triggered an interest in understanding the correlates and preconditions for such situations. Attempts to develop measures of failure and fragility proliferated, and were sought out as « early warning » mechanisms which would allow governments to have some foreknowledge of risks of conflict and instability and so develop policy interventions. The ambition of these measures was to foresee crises of political order before they materialized and thus help forestall them, and to provide diagnostic tools to better address the « causes of instability. » This paper will examine the rise of interest in « early warning » mechanisms for state fragility, and one specific effort to quantify « state fragility » by the United States Agency for International Development.