The Failure of International Intervention
Expectations of what can be achieved by outside interventions in ‘governance’ remain high. But expectations do not seem to have taken account of many years of disappointing experience. The quality of government in Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia remains desperately low despite years of aidfunded efforts to improve it. Incompetence, corruption and autocratic behaviour are rife. So too, partly as a result, are poverty, low life expectancy, poor education and civil strife. In recent years interest in ‘nationbuilding’ has increased, and there have been a small number of high-profile episodes under this label. Nationbuilding raises many of the same issues as attempts to improve government, and has encountered similar disappointments. Throughout the world, the process of reforming government, as the experience of most countries demonstrates, is unpopular. The idea of reform is usually popular; it is the process of doing it which causes the trouble. This is also a task which can never be said to be complete. Few projects are completed as planned and many are never finished at all; the pressure of events is as likely to derail attempts to reform as internal opposition or simple incompetence. In this book ‘governance’ has been interpreted quite narrowly, to cover the activities of governments and the public sector, rather than the total complex of institutions, processes and relationships through which societies manage their internal affairs. This book has therefore referred to ‘government’ or ‘public sector’ reform. WHAT HAS GONE WRONG? There are many reasons for the failure to...
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