The United Nations and the Reconstruction of Collapsed States in Africa

Both internal and external factors have led to the existence in Africa of weak or collapsed States. There is a gap between the reality of many African States and their ability to function empirically as a State, on the one hand, and the juridical criteria of statehood, on the other. In view of the potential threat posed by weak or collapsed States to international peace and security, the international community may choose to intervene (thereby compromising the legal principles of self-determination, independence, territorial integrity and noninterference) or to neglect the situation and hope that the State will pull itself together again. In the post-Cold War period, there are increased possibilities for the United Nations to take active action, and there is a trend towards the development of a ‘droit et devoir d’ingrence’. However, intervention in a collapsed State without the country’s consent must be justifiable, whether the criteria be ‘hard’ (necessity, ultimate means, broad support and duty to report) or ‘soft’ (proportionality, perspective and time schedule). The cases of Liberia and Somalia also indicate that military intervention requires certain guarantees and conditions in order to be successful. However problematic, it would appear preferable to prevent the collapse of a State rather than to (have to) react to it. Notes, ref.

Title: The United Nations and the Reconstruction of Collapsed States in Africa
Author: Van Eijk, Ryan
Year: 1997
Periodical: African Journal of International and Comparative Law
Volume: 9
Issue: 3
Period: September
Pages: 573-599
Language: English
Geographic term: Africa
External link: http://www.heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/afjincol9&id=587&collection=journals&index=journals/afjincol
Abstract: Both internal and external factors have led to the existence in Africa of weak or collapsed States. There is a gap between the reality of many African States and their ability to function empirically as a State, on the one hand, and the juridical criteria of statehood, on the other. In view of the potential threat posed by weak or collapsed States to international peace and security, the international community may choose to intervene (thereby compromising the legal principles of self-determination, independence, territorial integrity and noninterference) or to neglect the situation and hope that the State will pull itself together again. In the post-Cold War period, there are increased possibilities for the United Nations to take active action, and there is a trend towards the development of a ‘droit et devoir d’ingrence’. However, intervention in a collapsed State without the country’s consent must be justifiable, whether the criteria be ‘hard’ (necessity, ultimate means, broad support and duty to report) or ‘soft’ (proportionality, perspective and time schedule). The cases of Liberia and Somalia also indicate that military intervention requires certain guarantees and conditions in order to be successful. However problematic, it would appear preferable to prevent the collapse of a State rather than to (have to) react to it. Notes, ref.