IAP 9W (May 2012) Rethinking the Interagency Role in Preventing Conflict in Dealing with Failing or Failed States

Thursday, May 31, 2012

by Rumu Sarkar

Contingency operations are currently taking place in dangerous, unpredictable, and highly volatile environments where local government institutions have weakened or collapsed. In view of these conflict situations, it is recognized that the initial task of the military (whether national or multilateral) is to provide security.

While the pivotal importance of the military’s role in peacekeeping is acknowledged, it is also recognized that this role must be fully integrated with the political, diplomatic, and economic efforts of the groups in conflict, international organizations, nongovernment organizations, the media, and other non-state actors. The question is how to coordinate the different institutional actors carrying out these complex and interrelated functions with their varying objectives, timelines, and mandates.

The initial question is: Where are such “failing or failed states” located, and what causes such states to fail in the first instance? Second, why should the U.S. government take on the task of preventing conflict in such conflict or post-conflict zones? Finally, will intervention reduce the conflict and move the failed or failing state toward the path of stabilization and reconstruction? Or, in other words, what should be the government’s short- and long-term political objectives in undertaking conflict prevention?

This paper examines these questions, reviews the obstacles and roadblocks to achieving interagency cooperation and proposes a practical, solutions-based approach to achieving interagency cooperation.


Download the full text of IAP No. 9W, May 2012 (right click to save)

Rumu Sarkar is a senior legal advisor to Millennium Partners, an international development consulting group based in Charlottesville, Va. Sarker’s “Rethinking the Interagency Role in Preventing Conflict in Dealing with Failing or Failed States” won third place in the Simons Center Public Writing Competition conducted from September 2011 through March 2012. This IAP and the other two winning entries are also available in a special issue IAP which contains all three papers– download the IAP Special Issue here.

IAP Special Edition 2012 cover image

Download the IAP Special Issue 2012 which contains all three winning entries of the Simons Center Public Writing competition.


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