Handbook Dialogue No. 8
In the context of fragile or failing states, external assistance needs to review its principles and methods. Berghof Handbook Dialogue 8 vividly illustrates the need to shift from a state-centric view, yet without entirely rejecting the notion of state. At the same time, it shows the difficulties of integrating concepts of political order that do not correspond with the western-style Weberian/Westphalian state. Instead of advocating ideal-type, off-the-shelf models and blue-prints, the contributors to this dialogue argue that historically well-informed analysis, which leads to a deeper contextualized understanding of the local and regional situation on the ground, has to be the bedrock of any attempts for external assistance aimed at peace and development. Evidence and counter-examples come from Somaliland, Afghanistan, Liberia through to the Balkans and East Timor.