Western governments and multilateral agencies are preoccupied with the ways that insecurity, underdevelopment and poor governance in low-income settings are giving rise to fragile states, cities and frontier regions in the South. Yet they are also optimistic that the symptoms and possibly even the causes of fragility can be reversed. Member states of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), for instance, are adamant that comprehensive diplomatic, defensive and developmental approaches can make a positive difference on the ground. Governments from Australia to Sweden have established policies and institutions to leverage stability in faraway places. For its part, the United Nations (UN) has also launched stability operations and so-called active protection in some of its more complex missions including Haiti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Mali. Other countries are likewise experimenting with analogous approaches, such as the Brazilian authorities’ ‘pacification’ campaigns in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas or even the Lebanese government’s Roadmap for Priority Interventions for Stabilization as a means of responding to the crisis in neighbouring Syria. Although widely deployed, the concepts of stability and stabilization are comparatively new additions to the security and development lexicon. Yet they are rapidly gaining traction in policy and programming circles. And whilst variously defined, a full-blown ‘stabilization agenda’ has emerged to confront a wide range of armed conflicts and other situations of violence where ‘sovereignty gaps’ are manifest (Ghani and Lockhart 2009).
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