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New book explores the fragility of nations


State Fragility: Case Studies and Comparisons by Nematullah Bizhan (ed), Routledge, London, 2022. ISBN 9781003297697. eBook can be downloaded free here

CANBERRA – ‘State Fragility: Case Studies and Comparisons, edited by Dr Nematullah Bizhan, presents seven case studies that both address key questions on state fragility and examine the policies adopted to mitigate such brittleness in states.

Dr Bizhan is a visiting fellow and lecturer in public policy at the Australian National University and a senior research associate at Oxford University.

The case studies describe and compare policies and outcomes in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Burundi, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea and Rwanda within the context of their different local circumstances.

For each country, the case studies examine the distinct but interdependent dimensions of state fragility and assess the outcomes of policies that have been developed to address it.

The book focuses on questions of state legitimacy, capacity and authority, and also looks at the economy of each state and assesses its resilience to political and economic shocks.

By using this methodology, Bizhan and his co-authors are able to identify the key drivers and dominant features that play a part in state fragility.

He also joined Emanuel Guba Gorea in co-writing the chapter on Papua New Guinea.

Titled ‘A weak state and strong microsocieties…’, it argues that PNG has difficulties forging a national identity.

Instead it has created institutions where state weakness and societal fragmentation are dominant.

(They conclude that the archipelagic nature of PNG plays a prominent role in societal fragmentation.)

They write that the prevalence of violence, crime and high political contestation has imposed major human and economic costs on the country.

Corruption remains a major problem and has eroded the people’s trust in government.

Added to this is ‘the Bougainville transition’ which may take years and have many ramifications.

State Fragility’ is a book that will be of key interest to scholars and students of state fragility and more broadly of global development, politics and international relations.


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Lindsay F Bond

Quite some time back, a writer contributed to PNG Attitude the idea that PNG was likely to benefit from a very strong (single minded) leadership in the form of a dictator. (Please advise if that idea did not appear.)

Right now, there are persons in leadership, yes, right now, who have the knowledge, the right of law to speak and to lead and to take charge.

How can it be that a chap or two from Oro can be saying what is needed for the nation and how can it be that folk from other provinces are not articulating equally the obvious?

For example, Mr Masere MP is quoted saying: “It is long overdue for government to take appropriate action against those in charge of state agencies, in accordance with the recommendations made in the report.”

Now this comment is advocating that PNG leaders "put their eyes on" the words and the idea.

But, be fair! This comment is not saying that any one province is leading or not leading. The health of the whole nation of PNG is at stake.

Earthquake events as in Türkiye and Syria bring evidence of reasons for nations to be strong and focused on all citizens.

That type of calamity and more of violent expressions from an eruptive earth in PNG call for national integrity and preparedness.

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