Political turmoil, corruption, and extremist violence often originate in fragile states, those where government lacks either the capability or the legitimacy to provide for its people. On June 6, the Conflict Resolution and Prevention Forum held a discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace on select factors that undermine the ability of countries to withstand shocks, and a review of case studies that can guide policy in addressing key weaknesses.

The annual Fragile States Index, released in May by the Fund for Peace, documented the trend of worsening fragility. USIP in 2016 drew a spotlight to the links among state fragility, violent conflict and sustainable peace, with the release of a report by the Fragility Study Group. This event represents USIP’s continuing research and analysis on fragile states. 

The panelists discussed strategies and successes in the drive to turn the tide. The experts explored structural fragilities in the Sahel; civil society and gender in fragile states; the connection between fragility and violence; and how development, diplomacy and defense officials and their organizations intersect, in case studies from the Lake Chad Region, Burma and Jordan. 

This discussion is part of the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum, a consortium of seven Washington-area organizations, including USIP. They have worked since 1999 to share ideas from across disciplines that can improve the ability to manage conflicts and prevent violence.

A recording of this event is available on this event page. 

Speakers

Madeline Rose
Senior Policy Advisor, Mercy Corps 

Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini
Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network 

Vivian Lowery Derryck 
President and CEO, The Bridges Institute 

Beth Cole
Special Advisor, Violent Extremism, Conflict and Fragility, USIP

Patricia Taft, Moderator
Programs Director, Fund for Peace

Related Publications

Why Burma’s Peace Efforts Have Failed to End Its Internal Wars

Why Burma’s Peace Efforts Have Failed to End Its Internal Wars

Friday, October 2, 2020

By: Bertil Lintner

After seven decades of civil war and five failed peace efforts, Burma is no closer than before to reaching an agreement that would bring an end to its many conflicts. Analysis of those previous attempts shows that they all foundered on immutable attitudes on both sides. This report suggests that the peace process needs a fresh start, learning from the past and seeking to resolve underlying political disparities while prioritizing community interests and sustainable development.

Type: Peaceworks

Peace Processes

Nonviolent Action in Myanmar: Challenges and Lessons for Civil Society and Donors

Nonviolent Action in Myanmar: Challenges and Lessons for Civil Society and Donors

Friday, September 18, 2020

By: La Ring; Khin Sandar Nyunt; Nist Pianchupat; Shaazka Beyerle

The National League for Democracy’s decisive victory in Myanmar’s 2015 elections inspired hopes of a full transition from military rule and an opening of civil space. Neither has materialized, and the groups working to advance social, political, and economic change in Myanmar continue to face significant challenges. Focusing on three cases of organized nonviolent action in Kachin, Mandalay, and Yangon, this report explores the divide that has opened between civil society and the NLD government and the rifts emerging within civil society itself.

Type: Special Report

Nonviolent Action

The Dangers of Myanmar’s Ungoverned Casino Cities

The Dangers of Myanmar’s Ungoverned Casino Cities

Thursday, August 6, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

As a struggling, incomplete democracy, Myanmar and its elected leaders face challenges that would confound any country. The best-known involve the military’s uneven loosening of a 50-year dictatorship; ethnic tensions and armed conflicts; the lack of a common national identity; entrenched poverty; and the complications of borders with five nations, including China. Less well known is an emerging threat that touches each of these vital concerns. Over the past three years, transnational networks with links to organized crime have partnered with local armed groups, carving out autonomous enclaves and building so-called “smart cities” to tap into the huge, but illegal, Chinese online gambling market. Myanmar’s leaders at every level and in every sector should pay serious attention to the alarming national implications of these developments.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment; Democracy & Governance

Myanmar: Casino Cities Run on Blockchain Threaten Nation’s Sovereignty

Myanmar: Casino Cities Run on Blockchain Threaten Nation’s Sovereignty

Thursday, July 30, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

On January 20, a young venture capitalist named Douglas Gan sat down in a Philippine television studio to discuss, in part, an exciting new “Smart City” project his firm had become involved in. Sporting a black hoodie over a white tee-shirt, Gan described how one of his companies, Building Cities Beyond Blockchain, was already at work in Myanmar’s Yatai New City, recording instantaneous property transfers and showing the potential of blockchain technology. It’s a start, the anchor said. Gan agreed.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment

View All Publications